Finnish for busy people

Kaksi Vanhaa Puuta – Juha Tapio – Finnish Song Lyrics Analyzed

If you like music and translating Finnish song lyrics, then you might like this article. I will be analyzing the song Kaksi puuta by Juha Tapio.

2. About the Song

The song Kaksi puuta draws a parallel between two old, weathered trees and the long relationship between the singer and someone near to him.

3. Song Lyrics

Sanat:

Minä rakastan näitä iltojani kanssas sun
Kun hetken päässä aamu odottaa
Ja me nauramme ja silmiämme pyyhimme
ja helppo huominen on unohtaa
Oomme taas kuin kaksi lasta
Ne jotka aikoinaan puolivahingossa
lähti samaa tietä kulkemaan

Ja sä viet mut ikkunan luo
Ja sä sanot: me kai ollaan niin kuin nuo

Refrain:
Kaksi vanhaa puuta sateen pieksämää
Katsoo kevääseen
Seisoo erillään
Ja kestää joka tuulen ja sään
Kaksi vanhaa puuta, vaikket sitä nää
Katsoo kevääseen
Seisoo erillään
Ja jossain alla maan
Ne kaiken aikaa
Yhteen punoneet on juuriaan

Kaksi ylvästä ja nuorta
Varmoina on voimistaan
Taivaankantta kohti kasvaneet
Ehkä vuodet ovat kuorta ja talvet viimoillaan
Hiukan ohuemmaks raapineet
Kuinka onkaan kaksi lasta
Matkan myötä muuttuneet
Se ihme on kai vasta
Oomme tänne selvinneet

Ja sä viet mut ikkunan luo
Ja sä sanot: mehän ollaan niin kuin nuo

Refrain (2x)

Translation:

I love these evenings of mine with you
When a moment away morning awaits
And we laugh and wipe our eyes
And it’s easy to forget tomorrow
We’re again like two children
Those who at one point half-accidentally
Started going in the same direction

And you lead me to the window
And you say: I guess we are like those

Refrain:
Two old trees battered up by the rain
Look towards spring
Stand separately
And withstand every wind and weather
Two old trees, even though you can’t see it
Look towards spring
Stand separately
And somewhere under the ground
They have all along
intertwined their roots

Two proud and young ones
Certain of their strength
Have grown towards the sky
Maybe the years and the cold winter winds
have scratched the bark a little thinner
How is it that two children
have changed along the road
The miracle is probably
That we have made it here

And you take me to the window
And you say: we’re like those, you know

Refrain (2x)

4. Glossary

The following grammar terms have been abbreviated.

  • sg1: first person singular
  • sg2: second person singular
  • pl1: first person plual
  • pl3: third person plural
  • sg.part: singular partitive
  • pl.part: plural partitive
  • sg.gen: singular genetive
  • adv.: adverb
  • poss.suff.: possessive suffix

I have marked different elements of the analysis using the following symbols.

  • in italics: base word
  • (in brackets): translation
  • ‘in single quotation marks’: literal meaning
  • “in double quotation marks”: intended meaning
  • [square brackets]: saying, idiom, fixed phrase; rection
  • <symbol: derived from, based on

5. Kaksi vanhaa puuta – Finnish Song Analyzed

Minä rakastan [näitä iltojani] [kanssas sun]
Minä I
rakastan rakastaa (to love) sg1 present tense [partitive verb]
näitä tämä (this) [rakastaa + pl.part] “these”
iltojani ilta (evening), [rakastaa + pl.part] + -ni (my) sg1 poss.suff. “my evenings”
kanssas kanssa (with), postposition: [genetive + kanssa] + –s = –si, sg2 poss.suff.
sun <sinun: spoken, sg.gen because of kanssa “with you”
I love [these evenings of mine] [with you]
Kun [hetken päässä] aamu odottaa
Kun when
hetken hetki (moment) sg.gen because of päässä
päässä away, postposition [genetive + päässä] “a moment away”
aamu morning
odottaa odottaa (to wait) sg3 present tense “waits, is waiting”
When [a moment away] morning is waiting (for us)
Ja me nauramme ja silmiämme pyyhimme
Ja and
me we
nauramme nauraa (to laugh) pl1 present tense “we laugh”
ja and
silmiämme silmä (eye) pl.part, –mme pl1 poss.suff. “our eyes”
pyyhimme pyyhkiä (to wipe), pl1 present tense “we wipe”
And we laugh and wipe our eyes

Very typical of song lyrics is of course that word order is more fluent than it would be in spoken or written Finnish. In this case, the neutral word order would be “me nauramme and pyyhimme silmiämme“, which has the verb pyyhkiä before the object silmät.

Note that the –mme in nauramme and pyyhimme is the verbs personal ending for the first person plural (me nauramme), while the –mme at the end of silmiämme is the first person plural possessive suffix “our eyes”.

ja helppo huominen on unohtaa
ja and
helppo easy
huominen tomorrow
on olla (to be), sg3 present tense
unohtaa to forget
and easy to forget is tomorrow

Neutral word order for this phrase would be “on helppo unohtaa huominen“, which means “it’s easy to forget tomorrow”.

The word huominen is a noun, while you’re probably more familiar with the adverb huomenna. Both of these get the same translation in English “tomorrow”, but in Finnish you need to use huominen when “tomorrow” is the object of the sentence rather than an adverb.

The regular object rules apply here. This means that, in a regular sentence, we would have the genetive case: Unohdan huomisen. In a negative sentence, we would have the partitive case: En unohda huomista. The object of an “on helppo” sentence appears in the basic form.

Oomme taas kuin kaksi lasta – ne jotka aikoinaan…
Oomme <olemme: spoken, “we are”
taas again
kuin like, as (when comparing)
kaksi two
lasta lapsi (child), sg.part after number
Ne se (it), T-plural “they”
jotka joka (relative pronoun), T-plural “who, which”
aikoinaan aikoinaan (adverb) “as some point of time”
We’re again like two children – those who at one time…

Aikoinaan is a fossilized adverb, which we can divide into separate parts: it consists of the plural essive of aika (aikoina) with a possessive suffix (-an).

…puolivahingossa lähti [samaa tietä] kulkemaan
puolivahingossa almost accidentally, not really planned
lähti <lähtivät: spoken, imperfect, [lähteä + –maan] “they headed”
samaa sama (same) sg.part
tietä tie (road) sg.part ‘along the same road’ < “in the same direction”
kulkemaan kulkea (to move, proceed), 3rd inf. maan
…almost accidentally started heading [in the same direction]

Neutral word order: Ne lähti kulkemaan samaa tietä puolivahingossa.

The word puolivahingossa is a nice compound word: puoli means “half” and vahingossa means “by accident”. When something happens accidentally, we can say “se tapahtui vahingossa”. Adding puoli- makes it seem like the event wasn’t really planned but not really an accident either.

The subject of the verb lähti can be found in the previous table: it’s the ne in “ne jotka aikoinaan”. When the subject of a sentence is ne, the verb should appear in the third person plural: ne lähtivät. However, using the third person singular for ne is a very common spoken language feature, which you can read more about here.

Ja sä viet mut [ikkunan luo] ja sä sanot
Ja and
<sinä (you): spoken
viet viedä (to lead) sg3 persent tense
mut <minut (me): spoken, accusative form of minä (object of viedä)
ikkunan ikkuna (window), sg.gen (because of luo)
luo up to, mihin form of luona, rection: [genetive + luo]
ja and
<sinä (you): spoken
sanot sanoa (to say) sg2 present tense “you say”
And you lead me [to the window] and you say

Some postpositions can be inflected in the location cases:

    • Seison ikkunan luona. “I stand by the window” (the missä form)
    • Poistun ikkunan luota. “I leave the vicinity of the window” (the mistä form)
    • Viet minut ikkunan luo/luokse. “You lead me to the window” (the mihin form)
Me kai ollaan niin kuin nuo
Me we
kai probably, likely
ollaan <olemme: spoken, pl1 passive “we are”
niin kuin as, like
nuo those (trees)
We probably are like those

Refrain

Kaksi vanhaa puuta [sateen pieksämää]
Kaksi two
vanhaa vanha (old) sg.part (after number)
puuta puu (tree), sg.part (after number)
sateen sade (rain), sg.gen “by the rain”
pieksämää piestä (to beat, whip), agent participle, sg.part “whipped”
Two old trees beaten by the rain

Neutral word order: Kaksi vanhaa, sateen pieksämää puuta

Sateen pieksämä is an agent participle phrase, which in general is used to express who is causing something. So, we get sateen pieksämä puu “the tree beaten by the rain”, and similarly eg. metsurin kaatama puu “the tree felled by the lumberjack” and pojan halaama puu “the tree hugged by the boy”.

In the song, sateen pieksämä is used as an adjective describing the two old trees. Because it’s an adjective, it wil appear in the same form as the noun it is attached to: puuta is the partitive form of puu, so pieksämää also has the partitive case ending.

Katsoo kevääseen, seisoo erillään
Katsoo katsoa (to watch) sg3 present tense
kevääseen kevät (spring) sg mihin form “towards spring”
seisoo seisoa (to stand) sg3 present tense
erillään separately
Look towards spring, stand separately

The subject of these phrases is kaksi vanhaa puuta “two old trees”. While this makes the subject semantically plural, grammatically we’re not dealing with a plural. When your subjects starts with a number, the verb will appear in the third person singular rather than plural. This is not a spoken language element; this is the general grammar rule.

    • Puut katsovat kevääseen. “The trees look towards spring.”
    • Kaksi puuta katsoo kevääseen. “Two trees look towards spring.”
Ja kestää joka tuulen ja sään
Ja and
kestää to withstand, endure, sg3 present tense
joka each, every
tuulen tuuli (wind), sg.gen (object of kestää)
ja and
sään sää (weather), sg.gen (object of kestää)
And edure every wind and weather

Just like the previous section, the subject of this sentence is kaksi vanhaa puuta, which means the verb kestää is conjugated in the third person singular because of the number. The words tuuli and sää are total objects of the verb kestää.

Kaksi vanhaa puuta, vaikket sitä nää
Kaksi two
vanhaa vanha (old) sg.part (after number)
puuta puu (tree), sg.part (after number)
vaikket vaikka (though) + et (you don’t) “even though you don’t”
sitä se (it) sg.part (object of negative sentence)
nää <näe, spoken language, negative present tense “don’t see”
Two old trees, even though you don’t see it
Katsoo kevääseen, seisoo erillään
Katsoo katsoa (to watch) sg3 present tense
kevääseen kevät (spring) sg mihin form “towards spring”
seisoo seisoa (to stand) sg3 present tense
erillään separately, apart
Look towards spring, stand separately
Ja jossain [alla maan]
Ja and
jossain somewhere (missä form of jokin)
alla under, postposition: [genetive + alla]
maan maa (ground), sg.gen because alla
and somewhere [under the ground]

Postpositions are generally placed behind the word the express the relative location of (hence the name postposition). In songs, however, word order often gets mixed up, which is why maan alla appears as alla maan in this song.

Ne [kaiken aikaa] yhteen punoneet on juuriaan
Ne they (plural of se)
kaiken kaikki (all), sg.gen
aikaa aika (time), sg.part, [kaiken aikaa] = “all the time”
yhteen yhdessä (together), mihin form
punoneet punoa (to weave, entwine), perfect tense “have weaved”
on <ovat: spoken language “they have”
juuriaan juuri (root), pl.part + -an pl3 poss.suff. “their roots”
They [all the time] have interweaved their roots

Neutral word order: Ne ovat kaiken aikaa punoneet juuriaan yhteen.

Kaksi ylvästä ja nuorta varmoina on voimistaan
Kaksi two
ylvästä ylväs (proud), sg.part after numbers
ja and
nuorta nuori (young), sg.part after numbers
varmoina varma (sure, certain), plural essive, rection: [varma + mistä]
on <ovat, spoken language “they are”
voimistaan voima (strength), pl mistä + –an possessive suffix
Two proud and young (ones), certain of their strength

The form varmoina is the plural essive case of varma. Using the essive expresses the state something or someone is in. The plural is used because both trees as certain of their strength. The adjective varma will always be accompanied by the –sta form of the thing one is certain about. This is an adjective rection.

Taivaankantta kohti kasvaneet
Taivaankantta taivaankansi (firmament), sg.part because kohti
kohti towards, rection: [kohti + partitive]
kasvaneet kasvaa (to grow), perfect tense “have grown”
(have) grown towards the sky

Taivaankansi consista of the words taivas “sky” and kansi “cover, top, lid”. I’m not sure if “firmanent” is the correct word in English, but taivaankansi refers to the sky as a  round cover over the earth.

The word kohti “towards” requires the thing they express the relative location of to appear in the partitive case. Kohti is an adposition that can appear both in front or behind this word: [taivaankantta kohti] or [kohti taivaankantta].

The verb here is meant to be part of the perfect tense: ovat kasvaneet “have grown”, but the verb olla has been left out.

Ehkä vuodet ovat kuorta…
Ehkä maybe
vuodet vuosi (year), T-plural “the years”
ovat olla (to be) pl3 present tense “have”
kuorta kuori (bark), object of raapia
Maybe the years have the bark…

The sentence that starts with this section goes on in the next two tables as well. It’s a complicated sentence where word order has been drastically changed.

Neutral word order would be: Ehkä vuodet ja talvet viimoillaan ovat raapineet kuorta hiukan ohuemmaksi. In English: “Maybe the years and the winters with their cold wind have scratched the bark to be a little thinner”.

The noun kuori is the object of the verb raapia down below

… ja talvet viimoillaan…
ja and
talvet talvi (winter), T-plural “the winters”
viimoillaan viima (cold wind), pl adessive + –an possessive suffix “with their wind”
… and the winters with their cold wind…

The word for wind used here – viima – is the type of cold but evenly flowing wind you get in winter.

… hiukan ohuemmaksi raapineet
hiukan a little (adverb)
ohuemmaksi ohut (thin), comparative + translative
raapineet raapia (to scratch), perfect tense “have scratched”
… have scratched (the bark) a little thinner

The comparative of adjectives can be inflected in all the cases. The word ohut “thin” appears in this sentence in the translative form of the comparative. You can learn more about the inflection of comparatives here. The translative is used here to express a change happening: first the bark was thick, and now it has changed to be a little thinner.

Kuinka onkaan kaksi lasta [matkan myötä] muuttuneet
Kuinka how
onkaan olla (to be) 3sg present + -kaan (espresses amazement)
kaksi two
lasta lapsi (child), partitive after number
matkan matka (journey), sg.gen because of myötä
myötä along, rection: [genetive + myötä] “along the way”
muuttuneet muuttua (to change), perfect tense “have changed”
How have two children changed so much [along the way]
Se ihme on kai vasta, oomme tänne selvinneet
Se it
ihme miracle
on olla (to be), sg3 present tense “is”
kai probably
vasta only, just
oomme <olemme: spoken language “we have”
tänne täällä (here), mihin form “up to here”
selvinneet selvitä (to survive, manage), perfect tense “have survived”
The miracle is probably just that we’ve made it here

On ihme että” is an example of an “on hauskaa” sentence.

Some postpositions can be inflected in the location cases:

  • Seison täällä. “I stand over here” (the missä form)
  • Poistun täältä. “I leave from here” (the mistä form)
  • Tulin tänne. “I came here” (the mihin form)
Ja sä viet mut [ikkunan luo] ja sä sanot
Ja and
<sinä (you): spoken language
viet viedä (to lead) sg3 persent tense
mut <minut (me): spoken, accusative form of minä (object of viedä)
ikkunan ikkuna (window), sg.gen (because of luo)
luo up to, mihin form of luona, rection: [genetive + luo]
ja and
<sinä (you): spoken language
sanot sanoa (to say) sg2 present tense “you say”
And you lead me [to the window] and you say
Mehän ollaan niin kuin nuo
Mehän me (we) + –hän (expresses prior knowledge)
ollaan olla (to be), spoken language pl1 passive
niin kuin as, like
nuo those (trees)
We are like those, you know

Read More Elsewhere

Please let me know in the comments if this is the type of content you want to see more of! You can also leave some song suggestions.

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Susanne Janser

Wonderful, kiitos paljon! I will spend my sunday with this😃!

Inge (admin)

Have fun! 🙂

Wan

This is really useful! This really pinpoints what I don’t know about a song lyric and what to read up on! Hope there’ll be more to come in the future 😄

Inge (admin)

Thank you! Great to get feedback on articles 🙂

Marcin

Thank you for introducing us to this song and of course for the analysis! Actually, I like learning languages through music. One can learn quite a lot that way and in the case of Finnish songs one can also learn puhekieli from them. Do you plan to do analyses of other Finnish songs?

Inge (admin)

As long as there’s an interest in these (which you and the other commenters here have proven), I do plan on continuing.