Translation musings: Sisu, the embodiment of Finnishness

Nov 10, 2015 | Language, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

If you ask a Finnish person (for example my colleague Tytti), they’ll tell you that there are three things that are “most Finnish”: sisu, sauna and Sibelius.

Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius in his early twenties (1890)

Well, everyone is familiar with sauna where one can relax both physically and mentally, and you might also know Sibelius, the great Finnish composer who lived in the 19th century. But have you ever heard about sisu?

Sisu is an untranslatable that describes the most important Finnish virtue of all: a kind of determination and perseverance that drives one to reach a goal despite all the obstacles that might come one’s way, spiced with some extra stubbornness. A person who has sisu will definitely achieve anything they want!

So, next time you meet a hard-working Finn, you can compliment them by saying how much sisu they have!

Oh, and Sisu is also a much-loved Finnish candy… 🙂

Source of image: Wikimedia Commons