is a common Finnish
term for Finns who speak English
with a really bad
, or worse yet, write English using Finnish grammar
This pseudo-English is consequently also known as "tankero-English".
(In case you've never heard a really bad Finnish accent, recall
your favorite Hollywood movie featuring sadistic Nazi
things like "Ve haff veys to make you talk", and make the accent
ten times worse.) The word comes from the following story:
Foreign minister Ahti Karjalainen was visiting a small African
country, and naturally his hosts took him on a safari. They drove
for miles on a rattling jeep, and finally encountered an
elephant. Ahti pointed at it with his finger, and remarked:
'Tankero!' His main host, the local foreign minister, smiled
heartily, and nodded in agreement not to offend his guest.
They kept on going, and crossed a small river. There were some
hippos bathing in the water, and our honored foreign minister
pointed at them saying again: 'Tankero!'. The local host laughed
a bit, and agreed: 'Yes, yes', but was getting seemingly confused
at the same time.
The sun was getting close to the horizon, and pretty soon they
had to get going back to town. While they were returning on their
tracks, they suddenly noticed a lion laying down in the high
grass. 'Tankero!' was Mr Karjalainen's remark again. Now the
African minister, puzzled, turned to the Finnish minister's
aide, and asked: 'What is he trying to say?' 'You'll see soon'
was the humble reply, and while they were crossing back through
the park's entrance gate they noticed a big sign with a warning:
'All animals are dangerous.'
Based on a translation by Markku Verkkoniemi
It's worth noting that Karjalainen is the Dan Quayle
politics and there are plethora of similar jokes about him. This
one does, however, seem to be fairly well substantiated -- although
in some variants the setting is the London Zoo
The reason Finland has so many tankeros is that
Finnish does not have any voiced ("soft") consonants like b, d or g.
While these letters are (these days) often found in
loanwords, they are usually hardened when pronounced, the end
result being that Finns eat pananas, go to MkTonalts,
and play kolf. Finnish also has a very phonetic writing system,
which makes grappling with English spelling a very tankeros
Put no vörries: Finnish youf are kettink petter änd petter ät Enklish,
so fese tays most no lonker sound like Nazi konsentration kämp kuards
and tankeros häve pecome an entankeret spesies.