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Perkele is an alternative name of Ukko, the chief god of the Finnish pagan pantheon. In modern Finnish, the interjection "perkele!" is a common profanity, approximately equivalent to "the Devil!" in meaning and "fuck!" in intensity.
The name is of Indo-European origin. Related gods from other areas are Perkūnas (Lithuania), Pērkons (Latvia), Percunis (Prussia), Piarun (Belarus), Peko or Pekolasõ (Estonia) and Perun or Piorun (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia).
It has a history of being used as a curse: a cry for the god for strength. It still is a common curse word in vernacular Finnish. To a Finn, the word entails seriousness and potency that more lightly used curses lack. Also, when the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland held a popular contest to nominate the "most energizing" word in the Finnish language, one of the suggestions was Perkele because "it is the curse word that gave the most strength for the reconstruction of Finland after the wars." However, the popular vote was won by the word "Aurinko", sun. For comparison, "Parom" a corrupted form of the name "Perun", is used as a mild curse in Slovak language - "Do Paroma!" is roughly equivalent to perkele in Finnish.
Introduction of Christianity
As Finland was Christianized, the church started demonizing the Finnish gods. This led to the use of "Perkele" as a translation for "devil" in the Finnish translation of the Bible, thus making the use of the word a sin. Later, in a 1992 translation, the word is switched to paholainen.
Uses in popular culture
Many Finnish heavy metal bands like Impaled Nazarene and Norther use the word perkele for emphasis and to reference Finnishness. The Swedish Oi! band Perkele is also named after the Finnish swear word.
Perkele is a popular trend among "Scandinavia and the World" comics, often used by the commonly grouchy Finland to express anger, sadness, happiness, or any kind of emotion that replaces having to deal with conversation.
- Perkwunos, Indo-European god of thunder
- Perun, Early Slavic god of thunder and fire
- "Management by perkele", a Swedish expression
- Finnish profanity
- Pyhälahti, M.: Aurinko aurinko, näytit sarves. Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, 2010.
- Schwarzmann, Phil. "Finnish in Star Trek". Retrieved 31 March 2014.
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