Black in other languages

I would add that using “musta” to refer to skin colour is a pretty recent phenomenon. The words “tumma” (“dark”) and “tummaihoinen” (“dark skinned”) would be the more traditional Finnish options. The word “tumma” has far fewer negative connotations and plenty of more positive ones in comparison to “musta”. While some people have always used “musta” too, the word didn’t start getting more widespread until the 80’s when US culture started to become more influential in Finland. The more prominent North American culture has become, the more common using “black” instead of “dark” has become. In newspapers and TV news, “musta” has been used only for a year or two, largely as a reaction to what is happening in the States right now. I don’t know what to think about this. We had two perfectly good, neutral words, which did the job well and now everyone insists on using a US concept, which is associated with so many unfortunate things. I realise that there are other places in which “black” is used that way, but we adopted this usage from the States. How much this impacts the way Finns view skin colour, if at all, remains to be seen. Most likely it’s merely reflecting our obsession with American culture.

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