Tongue in cheek


I have had the pleasure and good fortune to be a student of excellent Finnish language teachers. Of course, it was made easier by the fact that by the time I had learned to read, I had already raided the bookshop shelves. Newspapers and magazines were never strangers either. So it was reading that honed my writing skills.

Certainly the endless desire to read everything from Jerry Cotton to non-fiction books sowed the seed in the soil from which, against all expectations, I grew as a journalist. Of course, I was a “fake journalist” for a long time, as I only completed my media professional qualification last year. In addition, instead of writing that also aimed at the title of professional photographer…

You learn by doing and having enjoyed the support of excellent mentors, I have had the opportunity to work as an editorial secretary for a few years during my career. Se on jo kohtalaisen kova posti missä tahansa mediassa.

An editor may make mistakes, but an editorial secretary should not. In practice, every grammatical and spelling error in a publication is the fault of the editorial secretary.

From these tasks, I developed an embarrassing case of spell-check disease. I’ve tried to hide the red pencils and highlighters so that I don’t become a language police officer and smear my computer screen when I read the morning papers. At least it used to be better when paper copies of the magazines you ordered still dropped through the letterbox.

Well, a joke’s a joke, I didn’t make corrections to magazine texts before, but somehow they make me sad, regardless of the publication format. Haste or indifference, perhaps both, shine through even in quality publications these days. Magazines and online publications are rushed through, which is reflected in a long list of later corrections and additions in the tail of online articles.

In the name of cost-effectiveness, organizations have been slimmed down so thin that stuff is pushed out unchecked, with all its errors. I know from practice that every writer is blind to his own mistakes. Therefore, articles should always be read by at least one colleague before pressing enter.

On the other hand, it seems that even proofreading doesn’t help anymore. Wormwood and secondaries are created when skills simply start to dwindle.

From this, I thought I’d make a vague aside to the real issue. I feel a pang of sympathy when I read an advertisement, a press release, or a company publication where, for example, the author is a bit lost when it comes to hyphens or punctuation.

The craziest mishaps can end up reposted in a Facebook “A hyphen is a hyphen” group or something similar. With a bit of foolishness, you can get some free, if somewhat dubious, fame for your text by ending up in the legendary “Grains and acorns” column of Suomen Kuvalehti.

Despite the well-known adage that all publicity is good, it would still be quite embarrassing to find your company’s marketing text on a forum where the smart ones are making fun of it. So, people, use professional help, as well as free tips from, for example, the Kotimaisten kielten keskus.

In both texts and photographs, it is often thought that the main thing is to be understood. I’m sorry, that is not true. Even a good product or service may not be bought if the language used to describe it is bad. The saying “when you do it yourself, you get what you get” easily applies to these.

And a few words in conclusion. As I was writing this, I realized once again that even proofreading software should not be trusted uncritically. In word’s opinion, the compound word ”myötähäpeä” should be written separately.

Another thing that someone might now draw attention to is the term Finnish language. In the context of languages, the proper noun is always written in lower case and separately. Instead, for example, “suomenkielinen” is a compound word.

We have a very demanding language, so this is another reason why it’s good to know a bit about written expression. I promise to open up about the photos later. Also in this sector, more poor quality is published than for domestic needs.

For that, too, we can thank both the rush and the media houses’ austerity drive. And there is no lack of indifference in the choice of images either. In this country, the axe, the camera and the keyboard still have a lot of work to do.



Anna tietosi, niin otan yhteyttä niin pian kuin mahdollista.

Kerro viestissä toiveistasi.


Jari Kohonen


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