On the High Coast, one of the most picturesque areas of Sweden, lies Fucke, a settlement made up of just 11 properties.
Fucke sits on the banks of Fuckesjön (“Fucke Lake”), just down the road from the small settlement of Hump, situated on the banks of Humpsjön (“Hump Lake”).
The earliest records of the town Fucke come from 1547, according to the Institute for Language and Folklore, where it is described as “by a lake, situated very high up on a hillside with very steep fields”.
The meaning of the name Fucke is “not entirely clear” Josefin Devine, a researcher at the Institute for Language and Folklore, told The Local.
“There is a suggestion for interpretation that it could mean ‘wedge shaped piece of earth’, from the Old West Norse word fokka, but that interpretation doesn’t explain the sound change [The change in vowel from ‘o’ to ‘u’]. So it’s unclear!”
Homeowners in the area are tired of their posts being censored when they try to sell things online, or write about the village on Facebook, so they have united and sent in a joint application to The National Land Survey of Sweden to change its name to Dalsro (“quiet valley”) instead, SVT reports.
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Unfortunately for residents, this could take some time. A name change must be considered by the Swedish National Heritage Board and the Institute for Language and Folklore before it can be approved, so it is unlikely that the people of Fucke will have an answer before the summer.
“The National Land Survey makes decisions about place names in Sweden,” said Devine, who explained what authorities consider when deciding whether to approve or deny a request to change a place name.
“They can choose to consult the Institute for Language and Folklore, which happens quite regularly. When that happens, we look at the material we have in our archives to see what evidence we have for spelling and pronunciation. We can also recommend that the National Land Survey make a particular decision, based on our knowledge of names and what the Historic Environment Act says, but they make the decision, she continued.
“It’s often about weighing different aspects against each other, like, for example, modern, practical issues with the name on the one hand, with protecting our cultural heritage on the other.”
The Historic Environment Act (Kulturmiljölagen) is a law which regulates Swedish place names, taking place name customs into account.
“Place name customs according to this law mean that, among other things, place names must be written according to accepted norms for written Swedish, as well as the fact that place names currently in use cannot be changed unless there are exceptional reasons. If new names are created, the effect on previously existing names must be considered. Therefore, if a place already has an established name, there need to be strong reasons for changing it,” explained the National Land Survey in an email to SVT.
Residents of the Swedish village of Fjuckby tried and failed to change their town’s name to Fjukeby back in 2007, with the National Land Survey choosing to follow the advice of the Institute for Language and Folklore and keep the name as-is.
Fjuckby inhabitant Katriina Flensburg told The Local at the time that she was surprised by the folklore institute’s resistance to a name change since the alternative, Fjukeby, was “pretty and nice”.