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Göteborg changes name back to Gothenburg

TT/Stuart Roberts · 11 Dec 2009, 06:55

Published: 11 Dec 2009 06:55 GMT+01:00

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The decision signals the end of a concerted push to gain international recognition for the city’s Swedish name, since an official decision by the council in 2003 to refer to the City of Göteborg in the international context.

The council cites both historical and pronunciation issues as reasons for reverting to the Anglicized name. “It’s much more natural to say ‘City of Gothenburg’ when you are speaking English,” said Bill Werngren, who is responsible for questions concerning the city council’s graphic profile.

The city’s English name has its roots in the earliest stages of the city's history, with Gothenburg even being mentioned in the official documents founding the city in 1621, but it was officially discarded in the council’s 2003 decision.

But the council does not envisage any problems for locals adjusting to their new identity. “To call the city ‘Gothenburg’ is something that the city’s residents have been used to for a long time,” Werngren said.

Story continues below…

TT/Stuart Roberts (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:37 December 11, 2009 by daltman7
No one outside of Sweden knows where "Yootabory" is. I'm really pleased the city council stopped its efforts to overturn nearly 400 years of history.
09:13 December 11, 2009 by Åskar
Gothenburg is the only town in Sweden with an official English name. Using the Swedish name in English language circumstances is just ridiculous.
10:25 December 11, 2009 by Kevin Harris
In 1984, the building company Skånska recognised its international ambitions were hindered by the incovenient fact that nobody outside Sweden could pronounce or type its name. Skånska became Skanska, and onwards an upwards for them.

In 2003 the city council proved their value to the city, by doing the reverse. What a bunch of dimwits.
12:20 December 11, 2009 by Britswedeguy
That's really sad, using history as an excuse to dilute Swedish culture in the name of big business. I've not heard one Swede ever refer to it as anything but Göteborg - and it's their city.
12:48 December 11, 2009 by Åskar
Britswedeguy: "I've not heard one Swede ever refer to it as anything but Göteborg"

Even in English? Ignorants! But then again, some ignorant person has managed to export the word "lingon" without trying to find out if the plant in question already has an English name.
13:58 December 11, 2009 by jones2
[quote]That's really sad, using history as an excuse to dilute Swedish culture in the name of big business. I've not heard one Swede ever refer to it…[/quote]The name Gothenburg is, as the article says, as old as the city itself. It reflects the fact that the city has always been an outward looking place and a hub for trade with the rest of the world. Foreign residents (Brits, particularly Scots, and Germans) have always been key figures in the history of Gothenburg - look at the history of Chalmers or the Swedish East India Company.

The idea, then, that 'Sveriges framsida' should ditch its historic English/German name is simply a result of historical and cultural ignorance. My experience is that most Gothenburgers are quite proud that their city is important enough to have a foreign name, for what it's worth.
14:40 December 11, 2009 by Celc
@Britswedeguy - I'm Swedish and I can't remember ever hearing anyone refer to Gothenburg as Göteborg in English. Although I suppose Swedes with below average English skills or those over 40 might use the Swedish name.
16:07 December 11, 2009 by Regor
I am a Göteborgare that have lived in the US for almost 50 years and all I can say that most of you don't know what you are talking about. I still have a bit of a Swedish accent and when meeting new people I inevitably am asked where I came from. I tell them Sweden, not Sverige. A common continuation is the question "where in Sweden are you from"? My response then can vary depending on the situation and the person asking, but if I feel generous I give them the whole string: "Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast, the second largest city in Sweden". Quite often their response is "Oh, I know, we went through there on our way to -- whatever". If I say Göteborg, then I more often then not get the blank stare and have to chime in with Gothenburg. So there you have it.

The diacriticals are what screws up most people on this side -- and i most other countries.
16:37 December 11, 2009 by bettan1
How about a compromise and just spell it "Goatborg" since the place is mostly a dump anyway.

Anyone noticed what a low-life hangout it is in the downtown area called "Drunks Parken" ? LOL
17:34 December 11, 2009 by jmchri74
Gothenburg Nebraska the only city in America named for Goteborg thanks you for the name change.
19:13 December 11, 2009 by Bensonradar
This a marketing and promotional idea to make it easier to promote Gothenburg in the international tourist market. Göteborg is too difficult a word for many non-Swedish people. It's sad that it dilutes Swedish culture, but MacGothenburg will soon be an international brand. Friends in Sweden tell me it's a nice place for tourists.
21:19 December 11, 2009 by Budd
As a American of distant Swedish heritage, I would suggest this is a slippery slope the city has started down. Is "Sverige" next? Was this change put up to a public vote? To modify the name of their city to accommodate English or other foreign language speakers seems sad. When in Sweden I have tried to wrap my tongue around Swedish pronunciation. Sometimes I get smiles in return, but hey, it's your native language and not mine. Just my opinion. //budd
00:13 December 12, 2009 by Terry Blunk
For more than 20 years, the public authorities around Göteborg have been hassling journalists, ad workers, writers, map companies and everyone in general to use the Swedish spelling of the city's name. I've just retired after 3 decades of working in Southern Sweden, and I can affirm that they have been pretty nasty and aggressive to me at times. Now, the same people want to revert to their original English spelling after causing headaches for everyone. I must suspect that the staunch opposition to this is lying latently in the background, waiting for a shift of regime and until the time they can once again demand that Gothenburg is Göteborg. Meanwhile, a substantial percentage of persons who might have been casually interested in visiting the place are put off by not knowing just where or what or whose it is. Well, at least they don't have the headachies of Helsinki - who are confused by Helsingfors being near to Helsingborg - or Scania (Skåne, or whatever) and even Denmark, which nobody knows from where the "e" came into the English language. Much like the cities in Sweden themselves, which are not really towns or distinct urban units anymore, Göteborg (Gothenburg) will just have to continue to be vague, misunderstood internationally and geographically confusing.
03:34 December 12, 2009 by Davey-jo
Shucks I'd just got used to Göteborg. Somebody once said "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy" ; well it seems to me Sweden has both and should really not take too much notice of what the outside world thinks. If you want "Gothenburg" go for it if you want "Göteborg" nobody will think the less of you. It's your country call things what you like.

Personally I still call Beijing Peking and Mumbai Bombay but then that is what we, in the UK, have always called those places (or used to until the BBC took over our language).
04:09 December 12, 2009 by Hhammerhead
...so we English speakers who struggle with Swedish can continue calling Växjö Vacks-joe? :-)
06:15 December 12, 2009 by Marc the Texan
Seriously agree this is a slippery slope, but modern Swedish culture seems hell bent on divesting itself of anything that smells Swedish. I think it's a moronic idea. If you're worried about marketing overseas, then using the English name overseas is fine, but at least be true to yourself. Do you think English speakers say Ciudad de México? Of course not. But at least Mexicans know better than to rename their capital Mexico City, just to make it easy on English speakers. Glad the Fiorentini aren't going down this route and changing the official name to Florence from Firenze. As my Swedish ex would say, "Sweden is going down."
14:45 December 12, 2009 by hjoian
does it matter?
01:27 December 13, 2009 by kenny8076
it doesnt matter, English will be the official language of sweden in 10 years anyways, these people have no backbones nor can they stick up for themselves..... not to mention how addicted they are to our language, it almost makes me sick.... i can barely learn the language because everyone just wants speak english. I have never been to a country that speaks so much english and loves to do it! And i have been to many countries.
11:50 December 13, 2009 by Beynch
This has to be one of the most pathetically misguided efforts ever, by a Swedish City! Don't they realize that Göteborg rings a lot more stoic, and impressive, than this new name that they think will internationalize their city. The imbicils in City council have caved in to a fumbling sense of anglicization, a scourge in the Swedish language. Try to form an adjective, in English ir German, of the new name. Furthermore the diacritics in their city name in fact adds to their city's allure. The "ö" indeed has an international appeal, evidenced by so many English brand names that add diacritics where they do not make sense, all the name of enhancing their images. Their new city name might as well be in New Jersey! Wrong decision City Council!!!
00:26 December 14, 2009 by Greg in Canada
I'm sorry to hear this. the first time I visited Sweden I was told that it was not Gothenburg. It took me years to learn how to pronounce it correctly just like a Swede and now you've changed it back.

All my effort was for nothing.:-)
07:52 December 14, 2009 by metalmonkey
I still have to vist the place and I am looking forward to it! But I would much rather vistit a proud Göteborg and not a bending Gothenburg. As said earlier Nebraska has Gothenburg and if the they have that covered why even consider changing the name from Swedish, it is in Sweden after all! So its a terrible idea and they should try standing up for their country and possibly pry loose a nail from the Swedish languages coffin.
11:30 December 15, 2009 by ameribrit
Just for clarification. The city has NOT changed it's name. The change applies to INTERNATIONAL correspondence only. It is just a realization that most of the world outside Sverige know Göteborg as Gothenburg. Just like a lot of the worlds population have a fair idea of where Copenhagen is located, but only scandinavians have any idea of where köpenhamn, or more correctly København, is located.

Just my 2 öre (while we still have such a thing as öre)
00:42 December 21, 2009 by kakmonstret
Thank you, ameribrit for the clarification every complainer seems to have missed.

I can't believe how petty you all are. If you don't like Sweden just LEAVE. And I say that as a person who works in international relations and LOVES to meet new people from new places. But I have zero tolerance for whiners and complainers.
23:37 March 15, 2010 by Relton
Welcome back to life Gothenburg! One time I said 'Göteborg' to an American and he thought I was talking about Gutter Boy. But why stop there? Let's Anglicise the whole damn language! Where lies this here Gothenburg? You must drive to left, must you, or come you too long and must to back. Or end you in Troll Hat and that can work small confusing. And next day calls Gothenburg something else and so are you whole lost.

My 2 öre's worth... or should that be 2 ear's worth?
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