Helsinki Day 2024 recognises slang speakers of the year

On Helsinki Day each year, Finland’s largest local history association Stadin Slangi ry selects two new Helsinki residents to be the “Stadin Friidu” and “Stadin Kundi”, or the Helsinki slang speakers of the year. It is considered one of the highest honours that a Helsinki resident can receive. This year on 12 June, urban activist Riitta Korhonen and author-researcher Janne Saarikivi will be presented with the title.

Riitta Korhonen, the new “Stadin Friidu”, is an activist whose work on behalf of Helsinki’s important culture and nature sites was held in high esteem by the Stadin Slangi ry board. Among other things, she has played a key role in preserving the historic Annala villa in the city. She is the CEO of the company that owns the property and is active in the villa’s cafe, which operates on a volunteer basis.

Korhonen was not born in Helsinki, but she moved to the city more than five decades ago. Active in several neighbourhood and district associations, she is a geologist by training and a world-renowned expert on peat.

Janne Saarikivi was chosen by the association as the 2024 “Stadin Kundi”. He is a university researcher of Finno-Ugric languages, an author of non-fiction books, and a regular newspaper columnist. He has built a reputation as a conversation starter, and his writing often touches on the interaction of language and society. Saarikivi actively participates in language policy debates and highlights the importance of preserving the Finnish language. He has also done extensive work to get people on the street to be more interested in language. 

The Stadin Slangi ry board was also impressed with Saarikivi’s interest in slang. He was born in Helsinki and the slang spoken in the capital was an important component of Saarikivi’s childhood. The older Helsinki slang spoken by his father and brother lives on vividly in his mind. He is also a part of the Bohemian generation of young people that attended the Kallio Upper Secondary School of Performing Arts, carrying the attending hope and positivity of that era with him.

The Stadin Slangi ry association has annually selected slang speakers of the year since 1996. The board makes its decision based on the nominations suggested by the slang association’s members.

The winners of the “Stadin Friidu 2024” and “Stadin Kundi 2024” titles were presented with their awards on 12 June on the Espa Stage in downtown Helsinki, as part of the Helsinki Day programme.

Find a list of the previous winners on the association’s Finnish-language website:

Image: Petri Anttila