Scandi Words and Phrases of Beauty Pt 2 – pöllö

There’s something a little too harsh about the phonetics of the English word owl. At the end of the day, the owl is a rounded creature with a good deal of fluffiness and softness about it. The ow part of owl (ouch) doesn’t do it justice. As such, I find the Finnish equivalent, pöllö, rather satisfying on at least one level. It looks far more soft and rounded. It sounds far more soft and rounded. And if this sounds dopily sentimental and on the same tangent as the ‘hello clouds hello sky’ sentiments of the famous Fotherington-Thomas character (below) in the Molesworth books, there is a sting in in the (owl’s) tail.

hello clouds hello sky hello fluffy owls

The word fulfils its definition on another level courtesy of its second syllable. The part gives the word enough of a finishing touch to make the whole noun sound enigmatic, potent and evocative – appropriately for a creature of the night that is both soft and fluffy and an adventurer and a hunter at the same time.

Overly analytical? Throw the charge at me if you wish. I just think Finnish may be one of the natural linguistic homes of concise and poetic expression. And there’s a lot going on in five letters and two accents here.

where Finnish noun borders on adjective?


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