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In international contexts, or when using foreign languages, particularly English, Finns have become accustomed to politically correct language in which traditional masculine terms are replaced with gender-neutral ones (e.g.

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Women are usually independent financially and may offer to pay their share of a restaurant bill, for instance.

A man may politely refuse such an offer, but it is equally polite to accept it.

They are proud that Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, is a Finn.

Visitors should also be prepared to encounter the other side of the Finnish national character: Finns are chronically insecure about whether the wider world is aware of the achievements of this northern nation.

Such breaches are viewed by Finns with equanimity if committed by their own countrymen and with understanding or amusement if committed by foreigners.

Codes of behaviour are fairly relaxed, and reputations – good or bad – are built up over time as the result of personal actions rather than conforming to norms or standards.

“Take a man by his words and a bull by its horns,” says a Finnish proverb.

A Finn will carefully consider what he (or she) says and expect others to do so too.

It is difficult in Finland to make or break a reputation with a single social blunder.

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