Finland got its name from seafaring people who caught and ate fish (codfish being their main diet), and they relished every part except the fins, which they considered inedible for some reason. Consequently, over the centuries fish fins accumulated in the land until there grew to be huge, unsightly piles of them everywhere.

Rude foreign visitors from America often enough remarked about the unsightly, rather smelly piles of fins lying everywhere, so eventually the whole country became known, far and wide, as "Finland," which at the start made most people hold their noses when they said it.

Not only that, the local residents became known as, you probably guessed it, Finns! It is not known where they smelled better or worse because of the name change, since nothing was recorded concerning this question. The double "n" was added by a misprint in a local paper, the FINNEKEY TIMES, but like all misprints soon caught on and became established in Finland's Constitution, which was not written on paper but set in concrete to make sure it wouldn't ever blow away (such as happened many times with the Finns' Parliament).

That Constitution, by the way, is remarkable, in that there isn't one word in it that is spelled correctly--quite an achievement for this ancient culture that lacked computer spell checkers which can insert all sorts of errors in your text with the best intentions.

In the everyday spoken language of Finland, for example, the definite article, which stands for the English "the," consists of forty letters with a couple #'s and &*@'s mixed in for good measure that stand for throat clearings and coughs and swallows.

Well, in the more formal literary language of the Finnish Constitution the Finnish definite article "the" is spelled with sixty-five--quite a feat! To pronounce "the," then, in Finnish, it takes as long as four or five minutes, as the easy-going Finns tend to draw out their words between deep swallows of sardine-flavored soda pop and are also given to other rather long pauses during which they often go and inspect their fish lines.

No one, consequently, has ever finished reading the Constitution of Finland in one sitting, though one brave Finn (a professor of Early Viking Cod Fishing Culture at the University of Helsinki) spent sixteen hours nonstop at it, until he collapsed right in the middle of a "the", vainly hoping to get in the Guinness Book of Records, by reading it straight through!

So much for his noble attempt! Other Scandinavians, however, shook their heads, wondering why he even bothered. They certainly had more sense! Nobody in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland--Finland's more sober-minded siblings--had ever attempted to read their own Constitutions! The very idea to them seemed somewhat unScandinavian, since it would take valuable time out of cod fishing, their only reason for living as they saw it.

Links to other sites on the Web, and please link to Finland's Toons now that you have Finland's history well in mind

Finland: Scandinavia's Duck Heaven Toons
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