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'Malmö should be called Mothvirgin in English'

Paul O'Mahony · 8 Feb 2010, 18:02

Published: 08 Feb 2010 18:02 GMT+01:00

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Two months on from Gothenburg's decision to ditch its efforts to market the city internationally as Göteborg, a man in Tumba, near Stockholm, has petitioned Malmö council to explore the possibilities of similarly rebranding the southern city.

The would-be Malmö modernizer cites translations of the Swedish words mal (moth) and (maiden, damsel or virgin) as ample evidence of the suitability of Mothvirgin.

Focussing on another meaning for mal, the submitter also throws Catfishvirgin into the pot as an alternative appellation.

In a nod to the city's foremost architectural wonder, the creative outsider also touts the success of Turning Torso as reason enough to go Anglophone. The building would hardly have been such a success, he supposes, had it been saddled with the Swedish title Den vridna kroppen utan armar, huvud och ben (The twisted body without arms, head or legs).

But there are solid grounds for some name change scepticism. As the largest newspaper in the region, Sydsvenskan points out that Malmö's etymology, while shrouded in a degree of mystery, is certainly not a translation of mal and . Most historians believe the city's name to stem from its twelfth century form -- Malmöghae, Malmhaugar, Malmöghe -- or "piles of sand".

As The Local reported in December, is a word that finds itself very much on the back foot in Sweden. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) led a push last year to replace the word mödomshinna (hymen), which translates literally as “virginity membrane”, with slidkrans.

Indeed, RFSU went some way toward achieving their goals when the Swedish Language Council agreed to add slidkrans to its list of official Swedish words. In total, the council added 30 new words to its linguistic roster at the end of the year.

Story continues below…

The sexual rights group also unilaterally proclaimed a new English term for what it considers one of the most misunderstood parts of the female anatomy.

“The new term in English is vaginal corona,” it said.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

19:31 February 8, 2010 by conboy
Only a right fanny would buy into that rigmarole - journalism is at the crest of a crevice if every nook and cranny of this topic continues to be penetrated.
19:52 February 8, 2010 by Keith #5083
For an englishman,if it's acceptable to Swedes, saying MAL MO it is perfectly OK.The problem arises when we try to make the Ö sound.

Göteborg presents a similar problem.

But what does it matter if the english or the rest of the world have a problem to say a Swedish place name? That's part of the charm of different places in the world.

Stay Swedish,please.

I am english and bet the rest of the world has problems with, say, Worcester (pr.wuster)

Leicester (pr.lester) ,Cholmondely (pr. chumlee).

Wonder how we are all going to manage when we buy a new Volvo?
20:17 February 8, 2010 by Mb 65
It's stupid. if you are going to change the name of the towns and city's. why not give up speaking swedish altogether, and change over to speaking English. That's half the fun when you visit other country's, to learn little phrases.
20:43 February 8, 2010 by rybo1
How about "Moth balls",wouldn't that solve this incredible problem?
20:54 February 8, 2010 by heresneezeduck
Hi here is one for the readers my login name is heresneezeduck which city do my family come from in Sweden as this is the English name
20:56 February 8, 2010 by rybo1
Well done "Heresneezeduck"!
21:35 February 8, 2010 by BCR
my guess is Härnösand :o)

too easy
22:59 February 8, 2010 by redfish
As an english speaker I have no problem with an anglicized version of Malmo, pronouncing it mal-mo. Also, I'd much rather visit the city for its historical buildings than a gimmick like the turning torso.
00:13 February 9, 2010 by dizzymoe33
As an American I found it very stupid that Sweden is even entertaining the idea to change the Swedish names of your towns/cities to an English version. I sincerely hope that you don't do it. Good luck.
01:04 February 9, 2010 by honorable
IKEA does not see any need to change the swedish names of the items it sells in Canada. Sweden should imitate IKEA.
03:34 February 9, 2010 by Davey-jo
I had to check that it wasn't April 1 already! This has got to be some kind of spoof! So some English speakers can't say Malmö so what? I bet some Swedes can't either.

There's a tendency to rename places just because the English have mispronounced them. I think of Bombay and Peking as the most obvious examples. It does no good however because in the words of the song "Bombay bleibt Bombay"

The English brigade are after your city; do not let them in.
05:07 February 9, 2010 by Nordic Prince
Finns feel they are lower than Swedes, and they just hate this fact. Kinda jealous. They just feel imperfect comparing with us.

Icelandic feel more less the same toward Danes

Belgians feel more less the same toward Dutch.

Poles feel more less the same toward Germans.

Spanish feel more less the same toward French.

Pakistanis feel more less the same toward Indians.

Saudis feel more less the same toward Kuwaitis.

Majority of Swedes are pathetic elements who pity themselves, and they always try to copy everything from Americans - pretty obvious, they see themselves way lower than Americans and they wish to be like them. (Swedish Sick!)

I think that's how the idea of changing our cities' names was born.
08:12 February 9, 2010 by sweco1
They can call it Scania.

So what is the origins of the word Scandinavia?
08:43 February 9, 2010 by rahpor
Mothvirgin??? Really? I think Malmö is better to pronounce!
09:43 February 9, 2010 by Lukestar1991
What a load of old rubbish
10:19 February 9, 2010 by Åskar
@Keith #5083, Göteborg/Gothenburg is another piece of cake. The town had an English name already in its chapter, so use it.
10:48 February 9, 2010 by Dimetrodon61
Strictly speaking, it should be "Ore Island" (malm= ore ö= island) (it is not an island now, but with the post-glacial rebound sea levels change over centuries).

BTW comment 12 by "Nordic Prince" got it right -it is about feeling inferior!
13:11 February 9, 2010 by V8farty
All seems a bit fishy to me.
14:03 February 9, 2010 by justanotherexpat
Ha! Plenty of people in Malmö have trouble saying Malmö in a way that can be cleary understood outside of Malmö but even that's no reason to change it. If foreigners are too bloody thick to pronounce a place correctly that's their problem :)

As for Göteborg, that's so easy - for anyone who's seen HipHips' wonderful spoof "Svenska För Nybörjare"..........
14:27 February 9, 2010 by BrammLinus
It should stay Malmö like it is...english dudes should try to change their knowledge for once instead of adjusting everything to them
14:52 February 9, 2010 by BrittInSweden
@BrammLinus You realise the guy proposing this is Swedish not a native English speaker. This has nothing to do with English trying to change things to suit us.

As mentioned by a few above, as long as I can be forgiven for saying Malmo instead of Malmö then everything is fine. It is a lot better than saying Mothvirgin, I mean what person in their right mind would want to visit Mothvirgin even if it is the direct translation.
15:56 February 9, 2010 by Nemesis
This is not a story, just a demonstration of one persons stupidty and a journalists inability to find stories on everyday business, finance, scientific and social affairs.

Whatever imbecile who came up with this idea should be sent to a doctor or vetinary surgeon, if to far gone.

There is nothing wrong with the name of the city. It is a Swedish city and has a Swedish name. If a city is in Sweden, it is up to immigratns to learn the names of those cities, no matter how hard they are to pronouce.

Try asking the Americans, Irish, Chinese, Pakistani's, English, French, Jordanians, Russian or Israeli's to change there names of there cities so that english speakers find them easier to pronouce. The reaction will explain how stupid and ignorant of an idea that this is and you will have plenty to ponder as you reover from the event.
19:20 February 9, 2010 by JulieLou40
As an English person who is shortly emigrating to Lulea, I say "Quite right!" to those people who say the pronunciation of Malmo should stay the same, and it is for foreigners to try & say it properly. I've always hated it when immigrants to the UK don't bother learning the language and expect everyone to adapt to them. Well I for one will gladly throw myself into learning the language and also the correct pronunciation of things when I move. Oh and for anyone who can't pronounce Malmo correctly, just try watching a few episodes of Wallander for hints on how to pronounce Swedish place names. Good luck!
21:17 February 9, 2010 by glamelixir
Seriously... how can we even consider this a piece of journalism...

This can only be a stupid joke.

Please The Local.... try to keep a better standard.

Needing an educated editor for your site? Give me a call, 'cause this is a DOWNFALL.
00:37 February 10, 2010 by Davey-jo
This story is just an excuse to go on about slidkrans once again; you see how it fits (if that's the right word) in with virgin moths.

By the way, why has Malmö still got it's Christmas tree up?
10:33 February 10, 2010 by krattan

This is what happens when The Local cites sources that could correspond to "The Sun" in Britain.

And of course this is just a cheap gimmick to put either Malmö or the author on the map. Seems to have worked too.
12:43 February 10, 2010 by flintis
Call it little Copenhagen or something else Danish cos nobody in Malmö can speak a word of Swedish.
15:48 February 10, 2010 by sissygirl
Will Mothvirgin be easier for the Germans, Danes, Russians and everybody else to pronounce? I'm an American. Keep your Swedish name. And please forgive us when we don't quite get the sounds right.
15:09 February 11, 2010 by rumcajs
hahahahahahaha, this is just idiotic. Obiously the people who comes with these ideas just wanna be like Americans.

Malmo is very easy to say. Even with the ö, I've never had any problem when I say MAL-MO and everybody understands.
23:25 February 14, 2010 by markus_t
I don't get it? I really have no words, how could a native swedish suggest that malmö should be translated to mothvirgin? It can't be more clear that the name derives from malm-ö, wich would be something like ore-isle or ore-island.

Please correct me if i am wrong =)
14:58 February 25, 2010 by pjtaipale
Also please realize that the beautiful, romantic story "The Maiden of Hay Island" is in Swedish "Hö-ös mö".

However, I find it refreshing that people still have a sense of humor, even if it has to come from a place called Tumba.
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