esmaspäev, jaanuar 07, 2008

sisuliselt sisu

Minu kallis naine was recently on the phone with a friend when she used a word I hadn't heard before: sisuliselt.

Estonians like to pepper their sentences with lots of tegelikult (actually), üldiselt (generally), põhiliselt (basically), põhimõtteliselt (principally), and tavaliselt (regularly). Sometimes I feel that every other word out of our niece's mouth is tegelikult, it's like the Estonian 'like' -- unapologetically overused.

But sisuliselt caught my attention because it contained the magic Finnish word 'sisu' which means something like 'determined' or 'resilient' or 'having guts'. The Finnish blogs are often chattering on and on about sisu, like it was the magic ingredient in life.

The Estonian meaning of sisu, though, is no easier to define. Aare.pri.ee, the väga kasulik eesti-inglise-eesti sõnaraamat defines sisu as 'content' -- the stuff that's inside stuff. The same online dictionary defines sisuliselt as 'in essence' or, as I would put it, 'essentially.' So, sisuliselt, the meaning of suomen sisu and eesti sisu are not that far apart.

The real divide, other than the Gulf of Finland, seems to be how they use the words. For Finns, it's the word. For Estonians, it arouses similar emotions to the word värk, which literally means 'stuff': ie. no emotions whatsoever.

Anyway, in either sense of the word, who do you think has more sisu -- Tarja or Sauli? And if anybody can better explain what these words mean, well, that's what the comment section is for.

13 kommentaari:

Toivo ütles ...

Nice observation. I guess you have read this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisu

Kristopher ütles ...

Ah, parasiitsõnad... words with as little content as most heads of state have actual power.

What's incredible to me is that for words with so little sisu they are so long -- even when shortened in speech to põhimõt'selt that's a mouthful.

CW is that Finns may have guts but Estonians have jonn - the quality of not quitting.

keelek6rv ütles ...

it seems that sometimes people use "sisuliselt" instead of "tegelikult". so these can be synonyms also.

plasma-jack ütles ...

http://www.eki.ee/dict/inglise/
Another great dictionary by the Institute of the Estonian Language.

Andres ütles ...

I tend to shorten "põhimõtteliselt" to some muttering. Kind of sounds like "põmõst". I always get annoyed when I say that without noticing, because it's the worst abbreviation ever, but saying 'põhimõtteliselt' out loud in informal speech seems pretty much just as weird ;) Ah yes, parasite words.. my personal favourite is 'nagu' which probably translates to "kind of" or smth.

Mari ütles ...

Ah, the nice "põhimõtteliselt".

One of my lecturers once abbreviated it into "põmst" in an email. Took me a few moments to figure out what it was there in the middle of the sentence.

alexDpg ütles ...

'sisuliselt' means 'in practical terms'.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Hmm, I must confess that I'm not a big user of that word. I'm sure there is a special kind of Finnish bloodymindedness that can translate both positively or negatively but "sisu" has had such overuse in its time that it has lost much of its meaning. I would see it connotating a certain tongue tied stubborness regardless of the odds of the situation - but one wonders how much it is in evidence in this comfortable, urbane, ultra-modern welfare society...

frost ütles ...

A(nother?) comment from the other side of the gulf.
The closest translation of 'sisu' (from those you pointed out) would be resilience.

My Fin-Eng dictionary suggests these: stick-it-with-ness, guts, and: balls ;)
Often, in my opinion, it means stubborness as well.

nipi ütles ...

Answer: Sauli.

Leo Labidas ütles ...

Estonian like is, for many people I know, nagu.

See nagu on nagu uuemal ajal selline parasiitsõna, mida nagu paljud kasutavad. Ise nagu tahaks seda juba hakata vältima: alguses nagu oli naljakas, kui nagu professorit kuulda nii rääkimas, aga sisuliselt ei ole nagu mõtet mingi pool juttu selle peale nagu raisata.

Jüri ütles ...

I myself use an online dictionary at http://www.tomahook.net/ and it translates 'sisuliselt' as 'substantially'

KRISTIN ütles ...

We use those words because Estonian language is very flat. Using those "parasiitsõnu" we can make it sound a little more dramatic (like in Mexican soap operas or Vaprates ja ilusates ;))