Finnish to English translation

The Finnish education system, with its smashing results in the Pisa study, has been ranked as best in the world many times in recent years. In Finland, children learn English from the age of 10, and the quality of English language education is very high. This means that many Finns have excellent English language skills by the time they finish compulsory education at the age of 16.

The English proficiency of younger Finns in particular can easily tempt Finnish business owners to put their Finnish to English translation tasks in the hands of a friend or colleague. After all, this is cheaper than sending off websites and other marketing and merchandising materials to be translated by a professional, mother-tongue translator.

But unfortunately it's at this initial and crucial step where companies can either make a good first impression and set themselves on a course for success in the foreign market, or get downright rejected by the native English target audience. A small number of odd-sounding Finnish structures or expressions is enough to downgrade the credibility of an otherwise serious and professional business. This means that when Finnish to English translation is done on the fly, the company behind the text can easily risk being  perceived as amateur, and lacking the spirit of excellence.

Despite its small population of 5.5 million people and its late industrial revolution, Finland is an important player on the international market. Traditionally, the Finnish economy is based on the wood and paper industry. Pulp and paper machines were among the most important export products for several decades, and they are still an important part of the country’s international trade today. With time, more modern and innovative businesses have begun to develop in Finland, which has also changed the nature of foreign trade. Some examples include brands such as Nokia, Angry Birds, Kone, and Lappset. Most recently, Finns have been achieving success in cutting-edge cloud solutions for information sharing and storage.

The cultures and styles of the Finnish and English speaking worlds are quite different, which is something that must be taken into account when performing Finnish to English translation. The Finnish style of expression is quite bald and direct, and overstatements are kept to a minimum. In English, however, the style is politer and lengthier, and often includes more puffery without sounding exaggerating or unnatural. The word “please” is often and widely used in different contexts in English, while in Finnish there is no direct translation for this word whatsoever. Instead, Finns use the conditional form to express politeness; but overusing this structure can sound artificial and unnatural.

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