Triple Mall?

I have been to the new shopping centre in Pasila, Mall of Tripla, a couple of times. On the whole, I’m quite impressed with it. There is a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere there – people seem to like hanging around. And there are no end of places to eat and drink.

     The only thing I really do not like about it is the use of language there. Why isn’t it called Pasilan ostoskeskus? Why is it called ”Mall of Tripla”, an awkward mixture of English and Finnish (although the word tripla is, of course, a loanword)? In the English-speaking world it would be called, possibly, Triple Shopping Mall or Triple Shopping Centre. Many of the signs, with names of areas or floors, are in English – Soul Street, Workery East and so on. I am a native speaker of English, but have never hear the word ”workery” before. You would think that if they want to use English terms they would use easy words that are in common use, such as floor, level, building.

     I also wonder why they wanted to make so much use of English. It cannot be on behalf of the immmigrant population of Finland. We are from numerous countries, and I am an exception in being an immigrant who speaks English as my native tongue. Most immigrants in Finland speak little English or no English. Is it for the foreign tourists? How many tourists decide to take in Pasila during their 24 hours in Helsinki, when they have to fit in Suomenlinna, Temppeliaukio and so on? The same is true of business travellers, who are unlikely to visit Pasila during their stay.

     It is presumably an attempt to appear to be cosmopolitan, global, cool, that I don’t believe has worked very well. Normally I do like to see and hear different languages being used in the same place at the same time. I am fascinated by cities in history where several languages were spoken at the same time, because the people who lived  there actually needed them – medieval Turku, nineteenth century Viipuri, Istanbul and Thessaloniki, for example.

     Languages can bring us together, break down barriers, be an endless source of fascination. But languages’ use must be natural and based on need. They have tried to make Triple Mall international, but it is an artificial attempt. More signs in Finnish and Swedish please!  

Chris Montgomery

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