Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finnish suffixes with product names in translation

Wikipedia says that Finnish has fifteen inflected cases: four grammatical cases, six locative cases, two essive cases (three in some Eastern dialects) and three marginal cases. So I recently asked a Finnish translator to clear up the different ways that I've seen Finnish suffixes appended in translation, particularly with product names that are not being translated. 

Let's use the product name LOG. It rolls down stairs, alone or in pairs, rolls over your neighbor's dog. It's fit for a snack; it fits on your back. It's LOG: it's big; it's heavy; it's wood. It's better than bad; it's good! Everyone wants a LOG, so c'mon and get your LOG. (From Blammmo!)

These are the product name suffixing scenarios:
  • Suffixes are appended right onto the product name when only the product name is used. LOGa
  • When both the product name and a defining word (as in "the LOG device") are used, suffixes are appended with a hyphen. LOG-laite
  • When the product name (with or without a defining word) contains several elements that cannot be written as one word according to Finnish language rules or simply because the product name contains several elements (as in "LOG Plus product"), suffixes are appended with a hyphen and a space. LOG Plus -tuotteen
  • Acronyms get suffixes appended with a colon when a suffix has to be attached directly to a product name (as in "LOG XL:n" where "n" is the genitive suffix) for grammatical reasons. 
  • The colon also appears abbreviations, like with measurement unit abbreviations that require case suffixes: cm:n  because it would be long and awkward to write the whole word ("senttimetrin" where the genitive ending is attached to the word).

Since I'm using this copyrighted example without permission to talk about Finnish in translation, I'll also encourage you to follow the blog of John K., the creator of Ren & Stimpy. Check out his recently funded Kickstarter campaign!