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Group slams English name for Swedish region

Joel Linde · 27 Jan 2012, 14:46

Published: 27 Jan 2012 14:46 GMT+01:00

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Currently, the cities of Linköping and Norrköping in eastern Sweden refer to their common metropolitan area as the rather unpoetic "Sveriges fjärde storstadsregion" ('Sweden's fourth largest metropolitan area') in Swedish and the "Twin Cities of Sweden" in English.

The region boasts a combined population of roughly 420,000, placing it after the Sweden's three biggest cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

In an effort to come up with a snazzier way to draw attention to the region, local officials have proposed ditching the current Swedish and English names in favour of "East Sweden".

But the planned name change has caused a language Swedish language preservation network to cry foul.

"It's completely absurd that a regional marketing company, which is 40 percent owned by two municipalities in Östergötland in Sweden, be given an English name," the Nätverket Språkförsvaret ('Language defence network') said in a statement this week.

According to Linköping municipality, the name "East Sweden" meets all the criteria that would enable the region to boost the region's brand "not least because it contains one of the world's strongest trademarks, 'Sweden'".

The new name will "give opportunities to more clearly position the region based on content and strengths as well as its location in the world", the region said in a statement.

Moreover, the region's current trademark remains an obstacle to the region gaining global recognition, officials claim.

But Språkförsvaret slammed the move, pointing out that English is neither a main language or a national minority language in Sweden, and argued that all publicly funded companies in Sweden should have a main name in Swedish.

"Isn't there a risk that the term 'Sweden' will be devalued, if every part of Sweden follows suit to be satisfied with being different points on a compass? North Sweden, West Sweden, South Sweden, Southeast Sweden, Southwest Sweden, Middle Sweden, et cetera," the group wrote.

Also problematic is the fact that East Sweden already exists - in the United States.

Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrant Swen Leander Hurd and his family, East Sweden is known as something of a ghost town in nestled on the plains of central Texas in a county with a total population of less than 10,000 people.

In addition, there is a small village in Maine in the northeastern United States which also goes by the name East Sweden.

Story continues below…

"Where is East Sweden?" Språkförsvaret asks sarcastically, pointing out that using the name may actually create more confusion than it alleviates.

But according to a statement from the region, changing its name from Fjärde Storstadsregionens to East Sweden is key toward raising the area's profile.

"Thus the term 'East Sweden' - which is already used by many businesses in the region in their international contacts - will be raised and tied even closer to our work," the region said.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:15 January 27, 2012 by eurobloke
Could they just use "Östsverige"?
06:02 January 28, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
Much Ado About Nothing....
06:55 January 28, 2012 by rybo1
Thank you Simon. Maybe "East Podunk" might be better.
07:39 January 28, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Get used to it Sweden. You will not have a native language by the end of the century. I'm sure more and more towns will follow. Since Sweden values globalization and political correctness above the culture of Sweden, the country is voluntarily agreeing to give it all up, drip by drip. Swedish is on the fast track to becoming a dead language. I've only been exposed to Sweden for just over a decade and the changes during this short time are pretty stunning. Seems like so many Swedes don't see it or just don't care. People under 20 are too young and don't have long enough perspective to see the difference. Buh-bye Swedish language, you will be missed by some of us.
14:09 January 28, 2012 by AmusedMuses
Oh my gawd! The Swedish language will die out because of the word "twin cities"

Call the press!

15:44 January 28, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Even as an English name, 'East Sweden' is lame.

There are a negative associations with for several places that have the adjective East in them, for example East L. A., Chicago's East Side, and the far upper east end of Manhattan (Spanish Harlem). All three are associated with higher crime rates and higher poverty. I know that these are parts of cities, and 'East Sweden' will designate a much larger area, but stll the term East tends to be neutral at best, a bit negative at worst.

Even on purely phonetic grounds, 'East' is sort of a high pitched sounding word, less soothing and less appealing than 'West', for example, which of course would not work geographically in this case. Est as in Estland is a bit better than East.

And finally why this obsession with a ghost town in Texas? That is the tail wagging the dog. A million people should not have their area named after a town with tumbledweed rolling through it.

Why not pull out some cool Viking name to call this region?
22:56 January 28, 2012 by JoeSwede
Well...this calls for a naming contest...

my entry: East Sweden - the NorLinKoping Area.
23:25 January 28, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Good entry. Better than East Sweden.

The other bizarre thing about the name East Sweden for a town in Texas (sorry, feel a need to continue my rant) is that there is no part of Texas that is east of Sweden, unless you go ultra far east all the way around the world past China and Hawaii.

So unless this East Sweden place was just east of a large place called Sweden in Texas, then the founder of East Sweden seems to have been turned around one too many times in his covered wagon, and literally didn't know eas from west..

Is this the example we want to set? Glorifying the name of a place named by a man who was geographically illiterate? At a time when Swedish schools are falling behind?

Have not done the research, but would in fact be curious to learn why the Texas founder threw the 'East' into the name.... same goes for the one in Maine...
00:06 January 29, 2012 by Just_Kidding
@Reason abd Realism #6: Agreed...even in Vancouver the "Vancouver eastside" and "East Vancouver" are cheaper and less attractive places than the "Westend", "Westside" and "West Vancovuer" and even "North Vancouver". West Hastings street is one of the most expensive places in Vancouver, while "East Vancouver" is a run down, high crime area.

@Marc: What has been the contribution of the Swedish language in the first 12 years of the 21st century? What will be its contribution to civilization in the remaining 88 years? Will it have anything to offer to the 22nd century?
06:27 January 29, 2012 by Timmore
Reason abd Realism


AKA New Sweden or Sweden, Texas

Around 1905-1906 a Swedish Methodist from Travis County organized another Swedish community west of Brady and the towns became East Sweden and West Sweden. West Sweden declined into a ghost town while East Sweden hung on.

11:09 January 29, 2012 by martiancat
East Sweden Helikopterflötilj?! does not sound right
11:31 January 29, 2012 by Reason abd Realism

Thanks for the clarification.

As for East Sweden Maine, Google maps finds a county named Sweden, and a Sweden road running through it, but no town or county named East Sweden, but anyway I assume that there is a similar reason why the East adjective is (accurately) employed there.

20:41 January 29, 2012 by Decedo
This group sounds as anal as the Quebec language police :\
20:54 January 29, 2012 by Kikiek
Twin Cities is what Minneapolis and St Paul in Minnesota are known collectively as. It is a nice way to connect the biggest cities in Minnesota, population of over 3 million people with Scandinavian heritage being the most common . I don't know why anyone would think of a little town in Texas when the name Twin Cities comes up. It is Minnesota that would come to mind.
23:51 January 29, 2012 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
Let me get this straight. They change their name to East Sweden because they are ... well ... East Sweden.

Then in a big international business deal with, say, China, a delegation of Swedes introduce themselves and say they're from East Sweden. The Chinese delegation are confused by this and think they are dealing with Americans from a village in Texas.

Hmmm. No, sorry, I'm not buying it.
08:37 January 30, 2012 by uunbeliever
@Just_kiding... a fellow Vancouverite? Nice to see. But East Hastings and pidgeon park are very polular tourist hangouts. (psst...weed...hash...LSD?)
18:44 January 30, 2012 by eromaster
Actually, Twin Cities is the official city name for Minneapolis-St. Paul megapolis of 5 mln residents. Mpls and St. Paul are usually referred to two Downtowns, and the rest is Twin Cities (TC). TC is very compatible to Sweden, long, dark cold winters and love for outdoors. TC enjoys the highest level of educated people per capita (BS, MS and PHD), 54% of population have at lease BS/BA degree, it's the capital of corporate world--the US/world's largest companies have headquarters here (3m, Honeywell, UnitedHelath, US Bank,over 100 corp headquarters out of S&P 500!!). It also has more miles of dedicated bike trails than any city in the world.
09:30 January 31, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ William Sachsen etc...

Agree that there would be no confusion. In my earlier posts I was sucked in by the vortex of the misleading opening lines of the article.

The legitimate outrage here is that a Swedish county or province may get an English name.

This is no different than the outrage one should expect if France decided to rename a vast territory within its borders with the English name 'East France'.
15:43 January 31, 2012 by Nic Mitchell
As someone planning to visit this area next week from the UK, I bought a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Sweden and they call it Southeast Sweden or Ostergotland. It is the second chapter after Stockholm and the book makes it sound like a pretty impressive go-ahead place. To a native English speaker Ostergotland sounds OK and quite interesting. Does that simply translate to East Sweden in Swedish/English?
16:33 January 31, 2012 by John.Smith
Just call it West Texas to complete the circle.
22:27 February 1, 2012 by Just_Kidding
@uunbeliever: I am not a born and raised Vancouverite, but I did go to UBC for 5 years! not a bad city, but maybe...
22:46 February 1, 2012 by DavidtheNorseman
@Nic - Ostergotland translates into Eastern Goth Land ... that is the area's ancient name so why not? It's Swedish and I don't recall anyone else using "Goth" in their naming protocols anymore (since around 553 AD, anyways). Ostergotland would have a chance to market itself and form it's own international image (plenty of smiling beautiful blonde women and sunny landscape settings, etc.)

I second Nic Mitchell's suggestion.
17:34 February 3, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
'The land of the Goths' or something similar is a way cool name, but with Ostergotland isn't there is a slight chance of confusion with regard to the world famous Unesco world heritage Viking island of Gotland, a.k.a Goth-Land, which is the largest island in Sweden? People might assume that Ostergotland is simply the east end of that island.
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