Studying a language also includes learning about another culture. So here’s a good word that might come in handy in Finland, although it’s not necessarily the first thing they teach you in Finnish class: kalsarikännit.
A combination of kalsari (underwear) and kännit (drunkenness), kalsarikännit refers to those times when you can’t be bothered to go out so you just have a drink at home – in your underwear, because why dress up if you’re not going anywhere? We’d call kalsarikännit a typical example of dry Finnish humour, if liquid wasn’t involved.
The Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, Vogue and other major publications have remarked upon this useful, uniquely Finnish word (@chicagotribune: for the record, it’s a noun). They found it in our collection of Finland emojis; Finland is the first country to release its own set of official national emojis.
We love it when refined Finnish customs find new devotees all over the globe. However, the international media’s attempts to phoneticise kalsarikännit for English speakers were ultimately doomed. Kalsarikännit is, well, a mouthful for anyone not of the Finnish persuasion.
For all true connoisseurs of Finnish culture everywhere, including Finland fans who find something in kalsarikännit that rings true for them, we’re posting a pronunciation video. It comes with a guarantee that you’ll learn Finnish – or at least this one Finnish word – in 30 seconds or less.
When you decide it’s time for an evening of kalsarikännit – and based on our experience, we believe that day will arrive sooner rather than later – you want to be able to say it right, so you can get the best possible results.
The Parisians may have their joie de vivre, but we’ll always have kalsarikännit.
Cheers! Real Helsinkians show you how to pronounce “kalsarikännit.”
By Peter Marten, February 2017