Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

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Jukka Aho
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Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by Jukka Aho » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:38 pm

It just caught my attention that one of the nominees for this year’s Finlandia literary award was a non-native speaker, Alexandra Salmela (born 1980 in Bratislava, former Czechoslovakia; now the capital of Slovakia), who only started studying Finnish in her 20s.

Mrs. Salmela has now been living in Finland for four years. She’s married to a Finn with children. The work with which she entered the competition, 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan, is a novel about a young woman living in Prague, aspiring to be an artist and die at the age of 27, like Jim Morrison. Coincidentally, the protagonist then packs her backpack and goes to visit the cottage of her literary teacher in Finland, where the story unfolds. (I haven’t read the novel myself but that’s how the plot is described in news stories.)

Mrs. Salmela didn’t win the Finlandia prize but she was awarded another literary prize by Helsingin Sanomat, worth €15,000. Literary critics have complimented her on her effortless and eloquent command of the language and her sarcastic/ironic style of narration. (See here, here and here.) She also made the board of Suomen Kustannusyhdistys ry. (or “The Finnish Book Foundation” as they call themselves in English) change the rules of eligibility for the Finlandia prize to allow nominees who are not Finnish citizens... which was something they had never before had to consider for the lack of published Finnish language material from such persons.

Salmela is being interviewed in this YLE news story and also in this segment taken from YLE’s Aamu-tv morning show.


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Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

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mrjimsfc
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Re: Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by mrjimsfc » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:59 pm

I guess this article proves the point that if you've lived in Finland for four years and you can't speak the language, you're just being lazy. It's obvious that Mrs. Salmela does more than just muddle through at a fourth grade (elementary school) level. :lightbulb:
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sammy
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Re: Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by sammy » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:30 am

mrjimsfc wrote:I guess this article proves the point that if you've lived in Finland for four years and you can't speak the language, you're just being lazy. It's obvious that Mrs. Salmela does more than just muddle through at a fourth grade (elementary school) level. :lightbulb:
There's also a degree of truth in the old problem English-speakers may face - that of motivation. Why bother learning Finnish when you can communicate with most of the natives in English? Of course, there are exceptions but it seems those immigrants whose native language is other than English are generally speaking a bit quicker to pick up Finnish. I don't think it's got anything to do with learning abilities as such, there's just more motivation to learn since practically no-one here speaks Czech, Slovak, etc.

Did you watch the video of her? She has a slight accent, from certain vowels and l's you can tell she's not a "native" but yes she has learnt the language very well indeed.


Upphew
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Re: Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by Upphew » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:49 am

Salmela studied theatre dramaturgy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, and obtained an MA in Finnish Language and Literature at Charles University in Prague.
She seems to have the motivation and done some studying before coming here.
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sammy
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Re: Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by sammy » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:19 am

Upphew wrote:
Salmela studied theatre dramaturgy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, and obtained an MA in Finnish Language and Literature at Charles University in Prague.
She seems to have the motivation and done some studying before coming here.
Ah, yes. How did I miss that :oops: But the motivation thingy probably does still hold true, even if her story is a bit different.

I've actually met someone else from that university who speaks perfect Finnish. They seem to have a popular -and effective- department of Fenno-Ugric languages :)


Rob A.
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Re: Alexandra Salmela: 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Post by Rob A. » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:12 pm

sammy wrote:
Upphew wrote:
Salmela studied theatre dramaturgy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, and obtained an MA in Finnish Language and Literature at Charles University in Prague.
She seems to have the motivation and done some studying before coming here.
Ah, yes. How did I miss that :oops: But the motivation thingy probably does still hold true, even if her story is a bit different.

I've actually met someone else from that university who speaks perfect Finnish. They seem to have a popular -and effective- department of Fenno-Ugric languages :)
I watched that and followed it as best as I could.....which basically meant inferring a lot of what was being said from the context.... :) But I would say that besides motivation and energy, she seems to be unusually intelligent.... All this helps....

And how many native speakers...let alone an ulkomaalainen...would have the initiative to actually write a novel?!? ....And one that apparently has impressed the "literary critics"... It made me think of the great Joseph Conrad....i.e., "Heart of Darkness"...who hadn't learnt English until he was an adult..and, according to "wiki"....he never lost his Polish accent... .:D


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