WeWriWa—Where are Emánuel and Adrián?

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet immediately follows last week’s, which closed with 18-year-old Adalbert asking their friend Emánuel if he has any fancy psychological mumbo-jumbo to explain their situation now and saying he has to crack sometime.

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Memorial to 200 Hungarian victims of a death march, Copyright Haeferl

“Mani’s not here,” Ágoston said. “I say good riddance.  I hope he stays far away from us from now on.”

Kálmán looked around, his heart racing faster and faster as he failed to find Emánuel anywhere.  Adrián had also disappeared.

“Why didn’t you tell us!  We could’ve already buried both of them, and didn’t get a chance to say our goodbyes!”

Adalbert grunted. “I grew to hate both of them.  It’s every man for himself now, and long past the time when we could’ve carried on like normal human beings.”

A primer on Finnish names

Finnish is one of the Finno–Ugric languages, among the few non-Indo–European languages widely spoken in Europe. It’s very similar to Estonian, though with some significant differences. Estonian features many German and Russian cognates, due to its long periods of occupation by those powers, whereas Finnish features many Swedish cognates. It might be hard to believe in the modern era, but Sweden was once a major world power.

Finnish, like its sister language Estonian, can be very difficult to learn. It has fifteen noun cases, one more than Estonian and three less than Hungarian. For me, the trick is learning to think of these suffixes as standing in for prepositions.

Some of my Russian characters take State-approved holidays to Finland, and some of them later defect via this route.

Alphabet:

Finnish uses the Roman alphabet, and like many European languages, pronounces the J like a Y. It also features A and O with an umlaut, and rarely Š, Ž, and the Swedish Å. The lattermost letter is used almost exclusively for proper names in Finland–Swedish (i.e., the variety of Swedish spoken in Finland). No native Finnish words contain this letter.

The letters C, X, W, Z, and Q are very rare. Unless they appear in foreign names, they tend to be replaced by Finnish sound equivalents—K or S in place of C; KS in place of X; V in place of W; and K in place of Q. QU is replaced by KV. Z is frequently pronounced TS, like the German Z.

Surnames:

Many Finnish surnames end in -nen, a diminutive suffix meaning “small.” Though this can function like a patronymic, it can also refer to anyone descended from that individual, not just a child. It can also refer to something like a farm or piece of land.

Other common suffixes are -a/ä (“place of”), -la, -io/iö, and -sto/stö.

Sadly, in the past, some Finns felt compelled to adopt German or Swedish surnames after moving up in society, and soldiers had their names changed whether they wanted it or not. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this trend was reversed, as Finnicization swept the land.

Surnames became legally mandatory in 1921. People who had no tradition of a family name had to invent them from scratch, and frequently took inspiration from nature. Examples include Virtanen (stream), Nieminen (cape), Laine (wave), Järvinen (lake), Mäkelä (hill), and Nurminen (grassland).

Sample names and their nickname forms:

Female:

Aamu (Morning)
Aava (Open, wide)
Adele (Aada, Ada)
Aila, Aili (Helga)
Aina (Always)
Aino (The only one)
Aliisa, Alisa (Alli)
Anna (Anneli, Anni, Anniina, Annikki, Annukka, Anu)
Ansa (Virtue or Trap)
Arja, Irja, Erja
Aune (Agnes)
Aurora

Birgitta, Piritta (Brita, Pirjo, Pirkko, Priita, Riitta)
Cecilia (Silja)
Dagmar
Dorotea (Tea, Teija)

Eerika
Eeva, Eevi
Eija
Eleonora, Eleonoora (Elli)
Eliina
Elisabet (Eliisa, Elisa, Elsa, Liisa, Liisi)
Emilia (Emmi)
Enni (possibly derived from Einar)
Esteri (Essi)
Eveliina

Frederika (Riikka)
Hanna
Heleena (Heli, Leena)
Helka
Hellä (Tender, gentle)
Helmi (Pearl)
Henna (Henrietta)
Henriikka
Hilja (Silence)
Hillevi (Happy/healthy/hearty war)

Iida
Iines (Agnes)
Iiris
Ilma (Air)
Ilona
Ilta (Evening)
Impi (Maiden)
Inka
Inkeri (Ingrid)
Irina (Irja)

Janina
Janna
Johanna (Hannele, Hanna, Jonna)
Josefiina
Julia

Kaarina, Katariina (Iina, Kaija, Kaisa, Kata, Kati, Katri, Katriina, Riina)
Karoliina (Liina)
Kerttu (Gertrude)
Kielo (Lily of the valley)
Kiira
Kirsi (Frost) (also a form of Christina)
Kirsikka (Kirsi) (Cherry)
Kristiina, Kirsti (Krista, Stiina, Tiina)
Kukka (Flower)

Lahja (Gift)
Laila (Helga; unrelated to the Arabic name Laila, meaning “night”)
Laura
Lea
Lempi (Love)
Lilja, Lilli
Loviisa (Louisa)
Lumi (Snow)
Lyydia

Maaria, Maija, Mari, Maria, Marja, Marjo (Maarika, Marita, Maritta, Marjatta, Marjukka, Marjut) (Marja also means “berry”)
Maarit, Marketta (Margaret)
Maire (Sugary, gushing)
Marjaana, Mirja, Mirjam, Mirjami (Jaana)
Martta
Matilda (Tilda)
Matleena (Magdalena)
Meri (Sea)
Merja
Mikaela
Minttu (Mint)

Noora
Oili (Olga)
Oliivia
Oona (Una)
Orvokki (Pansy)

Päivä (Day)
Paula, Pauliina
Petra
Pihla (Rowan tree)
Piia
Pilvi (Cloud)
Pinja (Stone pine)

Raakel (Rachel)
Rauha (Peace)
Rebekka
Ritva (Birch branch)
Ruut

Saana (the name of a mountain)
Saara, Sari (Saija)
Säde (Ray of light)
Satu (Fairytale)
Seija (Serene, tranquil)
Senja (Xenia)
Sini, Sinikka (Blue)
Sirpa (Fragment, small piece)
Sisko (Sister)
Sohvi (Sophia)
Soile, Soili (Blaze, glimmer)
Suoma (Finland)
Susanna (Sanni, Sanna)
Suvi (Summer)
Sylvi (Solveig)

Tähti (Star)
Taika (Spell, magic)
Talvikki (Winter)
Tarja (Darya)
Taru (Tarja) (Myth, legend)
Tatjana (Taina, Tanja)
Teresa
Terhi (Mist)
Terttu (Cluster, bunch)
Toini (Antonia)
Tuija (Cedar)
Tuuli, Tuula (Wind)
Tyyne (Serene, calm)

Ulriikka, Ulriika (Ulla)
Ursula
Valpuri (Vappu) (Ruler of the fortress)
Vanamo (Twinflower)
Varpu (A type of berry bush)
Veera
Venla
Vieno (Gentle)
Viivi (Viviana)
Vilhelmiina (Helmi, Miina, Mimmi, Minna)
Vilja (Grain, cereal)
Vilma
Virva (Will o’ the wisp; in Finnish folklore, this refers to a floating ball of light which appears over water)
Vuokko (Anemone)

Male:

Aabraham, Aapo
Aapeli (Abel)
Aarne
Aatami (Adam)
Aatos (Thought)
Aatto, Aatu (Adolf) (also means “eve,” as in the evening before a holiday)
Ahti (Finnish god of oceans, rivers, and fishing)
Aimo (Generous amount)
Akseli (Axel)
Aleksanteri (Ale, Samppa, Santeri, Santtu) (Alexander)
Aleksi (Ale)
Alpertti, Altti (Pertti) (Albert)
Anselmi (Anssi)
Antero, Antti (Atte, Tero) (Andrew)
Anttoni (Toni)
Ari (Eagle)
Armas (Belovèd)
Armo (Mercy, grace)
Arttu, Artturi (Arto)
Arvo (Worth, value)
Aukusti (Aku, Kusti) (Augustus)
Aulis (Helpful, willing)

Edvard, Eetu
Eelis, Eljas (Elijah)
Eemeli, Eemil
Eerik, Eerikki, Eero, Erkki
Eino (possibly derived from Einar)
Ensio (First)
Erno (Ernest)
Esa (Isaiah)

Ferdinand (Veeti, Vertti)
Filip, Vilppu
Frans
Fredrik (Veeti)

Harri
Heikki, Henrikki
Heino
Hermanni

Iisakki (Iikka, Iiro) (Isaac)
Into (Enthusiasm)
Ismo (Ishmael)

Jaakkima, Joakim (Aki, Kim, Kimi)
Jaakko, Jaakob, Jaakoppi (Jasko)
Jalmari (Jari) (Hjalmar)
Jalo (Gracious, noble)
Jarmo, Jorma, Jeremias (Jarkko, Jere)
Johannes, Janne, Joni, Juha, Juhana, Jouni, Juho, Jukka, Jussi (Hannes, Hannu)
Joona, Joonas
Jooseppi (Juuso)
Jyri, Jyrki, Yrjö, Yrjänä (George)

Kaapo, Kaapro (Gabriel)
Kaarle, Kaarlo, Karl (Kalle)
Kai
Kaleva, Kalevi (Mythological ancestor of the Finns)
Kari (Macarius)
Kauko (Far away)
Kristian
Kristoffer (Risto)
Kustaa, Kyösti (Kusti) (Gustave)

Lars, Lasse, Lassi, Lauri (Lari) (Lawrence)
Leevi
Luukas
Mainio (Excellent)
Markku, Markus
Martin, Martti
Matias, Matti
Mauno, Maunu, Manu (Magnus)
Mauri (Maurice)
Mikael, Mikko (Mika, Miska)

Nestori
Niilo, Niko (Nicholas)
Nooa (Noah)

Oiva (Splendid)
Olavi, Uolevi (Olaf)
Oliver (Olli)
Onni (Luck, happiness)
Oskari (Osku)
Otso (Bear)
Otto

Paavali, Paavo, Pauli
Pasi (Basil)
Pekka, Petteri, Pietari, Petri
Pentti (Benedict)
Perttu (Bartholomew)
Pyry (Blizzard, snowstorm)

Raimo, Reima (Raymond)
Ransu (Francis)
Reijo, Reko (Gregory)
Reino (Reynold)
Rikhard (Riku)
Roope, Roopertti (Pertti) (Robert)
Ruuben

Sakari (Sakke, Saku) (Zachary)
Sampo
Samuli (Samu, Samppa, Sami)
Sauli
Sebastian (Sepi, Seppo)
Seppo (Sepi) (Smith)
Simo (Simon)
Sisu (Determination, willpower)
Soini (Sven)
Sulo (Grace, charm)

Taavi, Taavetti (David)
Tahvo, Tapani (Teppo) (Steven)
Taisto (Battle)
Taneli (Tatu) (Daniel)
Tapio (Finnish god of forests, animals, and hunting)
Tarmo (Energy, drive, vigour)
Tauno (Modest, peaceful)
Teemu (Nicodemus)
Terho (Acorn)
Teuvo (Theodore)
Timo (Timothy)
Toivo (Hope)
Topias (Topi) (Tobias)
Torsti
Tuomas, Tuoma (Tomi, Tommi)
Tuure (Tuukka)

Ukko (Finnish god of thunder and the sky)
Urho (Brave)
Usko (Faith)

Valdemar (Valto)
Valtteri (Walter)
Veli (Veikko) (Brother)
Vesa (Sprout, young tree)
Vieno (Gentle)
Viljami, Vilhelm, Vilhelmi (Jami, Vilho, Vili, Viljo, Ville)
Voitto (Victory)

Do adults not want to read about other adults anymore?

Warning: Potentially unpopular opinions to follow.

My entire life, I’ve most preferred to write about young people. Even when my characters age into adulthood, I still see them in my mind’s eye as they were in their younger years. With the exception of parents, I only wrote about people around my age until I was in my mid-teens. In fact, my Atlantic City characters were written pretty unrealistically as adults until I was an adult myself! I had such little experience with writing about realistic adults, they inevitably felt like overgrown adolescents playing at being grownups.

I’ve honestly never had any problem with adults reading books intended for a younger readership. If you’re writing about young people, it stands to reason that you need to be familiar with the category. That was actually what helped me to realize I (mostly) really write adult literature that just happens to have young protagonists, instead of books that would be considered YA or MG by most folks nowadays.

If you write a book review blog that focuses on YA, MG, or children’s lit, it also stands to reason you’ll be reading a lot of that. And many books written for younger audiences are so well-written they transcend age-based categories. If a book is really good, we can enjoy and relate to it in different ways at different ages.

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However, I’ve become increasingly off-put by this undeniable trend of adults now exclusively, or nearly exclusively, reading YA and sometimes MG. I’ve seen many people, YA writers or not, outright admitting that’s all they read, and that they don’t read adult books.

Many times, a trend is so pervasive someone isn’t aware of taking part in it because of social contagion. Take, for example, the explosion in first-person present tense and alternating narrators/POV characters. Of course I don’t think everyone doing that is deliberately, mindlessly following a trend. But when you’ve seen so many examples, it does start to influence you. A lot of younger writers admit they think past tense and third person are stuffy, boring, and outdated, or don’t think books can still be written that way!

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Of the YA published within the last 10 years or so, I most enjoy graphic novels and novels in verse. I also love contemporaries with a gritty, urban setting, like the late great Walter Dean Myers’s books. I’ve been sadly disappointed in a lot of the YA historicals published in the U.S., and really didn’t click at all with any of the other genres I had to read for my YA Lit class.

I’ve revisited a number of books I loved when I was younger, and many times was left wondering why I ever loved them so much. Maybe it was because I now read more as a writer than a reader, but it’s also due in part to how those books are written for a younger audience. Adults want different things out of a story than children, preteens, or teens.

So, yes, I do find it kind of weird and creepy how adult women are openly swooning over fictional teenage boys, announcing crushes on them, feeling fluttery over their kissing scenes, and declaring themselves Team So-and-So for books with love triangles.

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I’m an adult, and never had the type of high school experience often depicted in YA contemporaries. I never dated or went to parties and dances, and didn’t want to. I barely even went out socially with my peers, also by choice. And forget taking part in current pop culture!

How can you relate more to a bunch of high school kids when you’re in your thirties? Don’t you want to read about other adults, with adult concerns, in a writing style meant for adults? There’s certainly a valid time and place for those kinds of stories, just as not all adult literature is going to be Crime and Punishment or Don Quixote. However, we all need a balanced diet, and too much of any one thing isn’t good for us.

I’ve also seen a lot of adults who start talking like characters in YA contemporaries. It’s really embarrassing to hear a thirtysomething soccer mom regularly saying, e.g., “All the things!” “All the feels!” “All the whatevers!” Their real-life writing style is often indistinguishable from that of an actual teenager!

This feels like deliberate cognitive stunting, avoiding engaging with writing intended for adults. Having a favorite or preferred genre (books, movies, music, artwork) doesn’t mean you should exclusively consume it. It makes us better-rounded when we sample from other buffets.

Buster Goes to College

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To celebrate Buster Keaton’s centenary of starting his film career, Lea at Silentology is holding the third annual Buster Keaton Blogathon. Click on the button above to see all the other participating posts.

I chose one of Buster’s less-popular films, College, which released 27 September 1927. For an added lift, I’ll also discuss how the film provides a look back at 1920s society and culture.

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Buster plays Ronald, the most brilliant scholar at his high school. On the day of graduation, he and his mother brave a rainstorm to get to the ceremony. We see a pricetag of $15 on Ronald’s suit, indicating he might be returning it afterwards and doesn’t come from a lot of money.

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By the graduation, Ronald gets a medal of honor and is asked to speak. His fellow students hate his speech, since he totally excoriates athletes and celebrates books and the life of the mind. They all laugh at him, and eventually get up and leave. During the speech, he also finds his suit shrinking and splitting.

At the end of the speech, only his doting mother is left in the audience.

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Ronald thought he couldn’t afford Clayton College, but changes his mind when he learns his crush Mary is going there. He’s determined to work his way through, and to join an athletics team so he might finally impress Mary. He first finds work as a soda jerk and then as a “colored waiter,” though neither of those jobs last very long.

He also tries out for the baseball team and the track and field team, but isn’t very successful at either. Mary’s heart starts to soften when she sees how hard he’s trying. She admires his determination, even if he isn’t a natural athlete. Her jock boyfriend Jeff derides Ronald, and tries to remind her of their relationship, but Mary retorts that he takes the seriousness of their couplehood too much for granted.

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Ronald is called into the dean’s office on account of his poor grades, after how proud the dean was to have such a brilliant scholar among his academic ranks. Ronald confesses he’s been trying to impress his crush, and the dean tells him he too had an unrequited love in youth, but he was stubborn and chose his books.

The dean hits upon a possible solution, and orders the rowing coach to make Ronald coxswain. The coach doesn’t want to accept Ronald onto the team, and tries to sabotage him. Before a big race, he slips a sleeping potion into Ronald’s drink, but Ronald winds up drinking from the wrong cup. The other coxswain is the one who gets roofied.

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During the race, Jeff springs a surprise visit on Mary and announces he’s been expelled. He wants to drag her down with him, and locks her door. The plan is for them to get caught alone together, so Mary will be expelled.

In spite of disasters all around, Ronald’s team wins the race. Afterwards, Mary manages to get a phonecall through to him, and he races to the rescue. All of a sudden, he’s transmogrified into a star athlete as he jumps over tall bushes, pole-vaults through the window, and fights with Jeff.

Mary is caught with Ronald in her room, and to avoid further scandal, they announce their engagement and run into a nearby church to be married.

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I love seeing the cost of living in old films. A $15 suit in 1927 would cost $279.13 today, which is on the low end. A designer suit can cost up to $5,000.

The name Mary in 1927 was like Jennifer in my generation. After slipping so far in popularity, it actually seems like an original choice today!

College culture was really hot. The college boy was a national icon, with men aspiring to be one and women aspiring to date one. The popular lure of college was indeed athletics and social life, not intellectual life. There’s an obvious parallel between this film and Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, though The Freshman has a lot more character and plot development.

Getting a job was so much easier. You could just walk in and get hired, no need for 3–5 years of entry-level experience or an advanced degree.

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How awesome was it that soda fountains used to be so commonplace! Even more awesome that many of them were in regular stores.

In 1927, it wasn’t illegal to advertise jobs specifically for a certain sex or race. Help wanted ads were divided by sex until 1968.

Blackface was a matter-of-fact, accepted part of the culture. When Buster blacked up for the short-lived waiter job, he wasn’t doing it to be offensive and racist. So many modern-day people who get bent out of shape over historical examples of blackface fail to look at the context and intent.

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Until a few decades ago, college authorities acted in loco parentis, in the place of parents. There were curfews, prying-eyed house mothers, and severe consequences for a woman caught with a man in her room. Even if they were only talking instead of making out or even close to one another, it was considered scandalous.

So many modern young women have no idea how much freedom they have, in spite of a continued sexual double standard. It’s commonplace now to have children outside of marriage, live with a boyfriend, marry after having several kids, and sleep with more than one guy ever. All those things had severe consequences in 1927. This wasn’t the era of casually hooking up with lots of partners. I’m laughably old-fashioned for not pursuing casual sex and feeling compromised by having slept with someone I didn’t marry!

1927: An actor carries Buster Keaton, in the role of Ronald, in the 1927 movie College.

This isn’t Buster’s strongest or most memorable film, but it’s a pleasant diversion.

WeWriWa—Giving up isn’t an option

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 15-year-old Kálmán and his friends were forced to start digging graves for attempted escapees and prisoners who were shot while a fight was broken up.

18-year-old Gáspár laments how he couldn’t be one of the corpses going into a grave, while Kálmán can’t wait to turn the tables and dig the graves of their enemies.

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Source

“It’s how the Germans’ minds work,” Ágoston said. “They only kill us when we want to live.  No matter how much we demonstrate having given up, even point-blank asking to be shot, we’re not allowed to die.  It gives the Nazis more sadistic pleasure to keep us alive when we want to die.”

Kálmán’s shovel finally made a dent in the hard ground. “The Germans want us to give up.  We can’t give them that foul satisfaction.”

“Do you have some fancy mumbo-jumbo to explain this now, Karfinkel?” Adalbert asked. “You’ve got to crack sometime.”