How Do I Order Items On A Foreign Website, When I Don't Understand The Language?

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AndiFlatland | 14:44 Wed 06th Nov 2019 | Arts & Literature
10 Answers
I guess this fits this category better than any other - wish there was one on foreign languages.
I am the archivist for the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy appreciation society, and have been since 1980. With a large sum of money left to me after the death of my mother, I've been on a mission to acquire as much archive material from worldwide sources as I can find/afford. I have been trying to track down all the variants of items like books, records, CDs, DVDs and memorabilia, mainly via eBay, and searching on Google.
Currently, I'm searching for the Finnish translations (and many others) of the Hitchhiker books and other works of Douglas Adams - but it's an uphill struggle (it's such a strange language, and I don't understand a word!
But I found a couple of Finnish sites which had various Finnish editions of the books in stock, and by guesswork and trial and error - using the buttons that seemed to be analogous to what I expected from English sites - I managed to get the books into my shopping cart. But I could get no further. The site was asking me for my e-mail address - easy. It asked me for my postcode, but when I typed it in, it just kept giving me the message 'invalid code' (using Google translate). I tried everything I could think of, but had no luck, and the page is still stuck in a holding mode.
I suppose I could spend whole days trying to translate everything laboriously on Google - but I have a life beyond to get on with! And Google translate is not always the perfect solution - I tried to translate one phrase, and it just came up with 'crack' - which made no sense! And with Finnish being full of long words with multiple y's and h's, and runs of multi-umlauted letters which I can't copy and paste, it looks like I'm on a thick ear to nothing. If only I had a Babel Fish...
If anybody has any idea of how I can fill in these foreign website page order forms, I would be very grateful to hear from you.
Other than that, if you're at all interested in the Hitchhiker's Guide, do let me know, and I'll be very glad to help with information, and put you in touch with the appreciation society - our 42nd year in 2020!
Oh, and... DON'T PANIC!!


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Sounds like you need to have a Finnish postcode ...
Hi Andiflatland. Not all websites ship worldwide. Maybe this is the issue with the Finnish website?
E-mail them and request export purchase. If they say, "No", then that's the Finish.
maybe man shouldn't have been so quick to use the babel fish to prove the non-existence of god - sounds like you now need His help...… :-)
Perhaps someone at the Finnish Embassy may help?
Address: 38 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8HW

Phone: 020 7838 6200


Closing soon in 18 mins
· Opens tomorrow 9:00 AM

Andi, I honestly don't think you're going to get very far with Finnish without the help of a native speaker.
You'll have no idea what you may be signing yourself up for.

Unlike other Scandinavian languages, Finnish is not a North Germanic language. It's Uralic. Its nearest linguistic relation is Hungarian.

It may not be worth the risk.
'Linnunradan Käsikirja Liftareille' isn't showing as available on the website of Finland's largest bookseller, Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, which suggests that it's out of print there. So you'll probably need to track down a secondhand copy and, as you seem to have found, not all secondhand dealers ship outside of Finland.

Which site(s) have you been trying?
>>> Perhaps someone at the Finnish Embassy may help?

I'd have thought that the Anglo-Finnish Society might be a better bet:
> It asked me for my postcode, but when I typed it in, it just kept giving me the message 'invalid code' (using Google translate).

My response "Sounds like you need to have a Finnish postcode" was not designed to be flippant. I think "invalid code" means "invalid post code". Try entering a correct Finnish postcode to test this. E.g. the address of the British embassy in Helsinki is:

Itäinen Puistotie 17, 00140 Helsinki, Finland

Try that. If it works, you'll know you need to be in Finland to make the purchase.

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