Jaakko Saariluoma and Laura Kolbe.

Stadin Slangi names Helsinki slang speakers of the year

Finland’s largest association promoting hometown spirit, Stadin Slangi, has named Helsinki’s slang royalty for 2020, in conjunction with Helsinki Day on 12 June. Helsinki University researcher and instructor Laura Kolbe has been named this year’s ‘Stadin Friidu’ and Helsinki-based actor and director Jaakko Saariluoma has been chosen as 2020’s ‘Stadin Kundi’.

For those who appreciate the unique urban vocabulary used in the capital, the titles of Stadin Friidu and Stadin Kundi that are awarded each year on 12 June are a great honour. Recipients of the esteemed titles are often big fans of their hometown of Helsinki, and this year is no exception.

Stadin Friidu 2020: Laura Kolbe

This year’s Stadin Friidu award has been extended to Laura Kolbe, a 63-year-old researcher, instructor and mother. A self-described ‘Helsinkian heart and soul’, Kolbe says she represents urban and liberal values and believes in the many benefits of municipal communities. The history professor grew up in Helsinki in the districts of Pohjois-Haaga and Lauttasaari and currently resides in the neighbourhood of Kruunuhaka.  

Kolbe says she is an avid consumer of cultural events such as theatre, ballet and opera performances, in addition to museums, exhibitions and summer festivals. She also tries to exercise and be active in the city on a daily basis. She says her life is a fluid combination of work and play, city and country, technology and nature and the material and spiritual.

Kolbe’s family includes her spouse, attorney Thomas Forss, and her two children Johannes and Carolina, who are both in their thirties. She credits her family members for being her most valued sources of strength, support and criticism.

This year’s Stadin Friidu says she grew up in a family circle that was made up of four generations, three languages, two homelands, and one overriding principle: an appreciation of culture and history and an interest in political and social issues. Her birthplace of Bogota, Columbia is a constant reminder that the doorstep to the rest of the world is just a few steps away.

Stadin Kundi 2020: Jaakko Saariluoma

Actor, director and stand-up comedian Jaakko Saariluoma, age 53, knows his hometown well. Born in eastern Helsinki, Saariluoma says he has since lived in several other parts of the city, including the districts of Sörnäinen, Töölö and his current home in northern Helsinki. It was during this time that strong elements of Helsinki slang made its way into his everyday vernacular.

Saariluoma’s has two adult children, and says has enjoyed being a father. While his current neighbourhood was ideal for a family with small children, he is considering moving back closer to the city centre now that his children have grown. 

In addition to his parenting role, Saariluoma has become a familiar face in Finland for his work on the stage and television. His career as a stand-up comedian in particular has brought him to stages throughout the country. Saariluoma graduated from the Theatre Academy in 1994, and has since worked as both an actor and director. As a counterbalance to his work, this year’s Stadin Kundi likes to exercise and play the guitar and piano.

Stadin Slangi is a Finnish association that promotes Helsinki slang. For the last 25 years, it has been proud to name annual female and male proponents of the city’s unique vocabulary, better known as Stadin Friidu and Stadin Kundi. Everyone is welcome to suggest candidates for the title, and the association board determines the selection criteria independently each year. Previous personalities awarded with the title have represented a diverse range of talents and include former Helsinki mayor Eva-Riitta Siitonen, vocalist Maija Vilkkumaa, songwriter Heikki Harma and filmmaker Jörn Donner.

Helsinki Day

Stadin Slangi ry (in Finnish)

Photo: Marjut Klinga.