A daily bulletin of news & opinion

19 September 2013

Don’t you just find self-confidence so attractive? And how is it that the ones who are most self-confident often seem to go further?

I could be talking about the challenges faced by high-school kids in their love lives or career ambitions but instead I would like to take a slightly more international view and talk about individual countries.

The Finns often seem to worry about what the rest of the world thinks of them. The latest worry now is over the Finnish accent when Finns speak in English.

The discussion started when videos of a few famous Finns speaking English with thick accents started spreading on the internet. Watching them nearly became a national pastime for many. In my view this reflects what’s going on deep down in the Finnish mentality – feeling constantly inferior just because the population is small and our language is not internationally known.

We know what the bigger countries are like. They don’t lack self-esteem, they do whatever they think is best for them and at the same time they are keenly followed and buttered-up by smaller nations. The same applies with accents. French poeple don’t often seem to mind their accents, neither do Italians or Spaniards. In fact, their attitudes are almost celebrated by the wider world and seen as giving the individual nations each a unique character.

But when I say that self confidence is attractive, I also think of my nation. Maybe it would be a good idea not to waste time trying to hide the Finnishness from our speech. Instead, I would recommend my fellow Finns go abroad, speak proudly, get their karjalanpiirakka pastry kits out, and show their hosts how you do the sauna – in the way only the Finns can.

At least our nation would then get more attention – and a few raised eyebrows – if nothing else.

Markus Hippi is a producer for Monocle 24


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