Swedish City Wants to Scrap Nordic Letters to Make Life Easier for Foreigners


by Igor Kuznetsov

The proposal to do away with uniquely Swedish letters has sparked strong reactions online, as many perceived it as an attack on the Swedish language and culture.

The Gothenburg City Culture Committee has proposed to remove the Nordic letters from certain street names to make it easier for foreign-born tenants who struggle with Scandinavian lettering, the news outlet Samhällsnytt reported.

The Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals in the Gothenburg City Culture Committee consider names such as Långfilsgatan and Kärnmjölksgatan in the district of Kallebäck problematic for tenants with a foreign background. To accommodate them, it has been proposed to change the names that include the trademark Å, Ä and Ö letters.

The initiative was vehemently opposed by the national-conservative Sweden Democrats.

“The Swedish language is unique with its letters Å, Ä and Ö. We understand it perfectly well that foreign tenants at Wallenstams House may be struggling to pronounce them in perfect Sweden, let alone Gothenburgian. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter”, the Sweden Democrats wrote, according to the party deputy leader in Gothenburg Jörgen Fogelclou.

Alliansen i Göteborg kulturnämnd vill nu ta bort Å, Ä och Ö ur gatunamn. Det blir svårt att kommunicera med utländska hyresgäster 🤦

Förslår på wallenstams begäran att namnberedningen river upp sitt beslut ang Långfilsgatan och Kärnmjölksgatan. 🤷‍♂️

SD säger nej. pic.twitter.com/NTNAbf7SZl

— jörgen fogelklou ™️ (@fogelklou) February 22, 2021

​According to a later update by Fogelclou, the proposal was later accepted by the City Culture Committee by 10 votes to 1.

This sparked strong reactions on social media.

“Now we have come to the point where Å, Ä and Ö should be abolished because they are too difficult to understand. Today street names in Gothenburg, soon in everything. The Swedish culture (which absolutely doesn’t exist, and if it does, it is only violent) will disappear,” an angry user wrote.

Nu har vi kommit dithän att å, ä och ö ska avskaffas för att de är för svåra att förstå.
Idag gatunamn i Göteborg, snart i allt.
Den svenska kulturen (som absolut inte finns, och om den finns är den bara våldsam) ska bort. https://t.co/oyvaHNhDM7

— Jonas Lundén (@franforstutrapp) February 22, 2021

​“I will have to change my name,” a user named Annete Borgström wrote.

Jag får byta namn 😡

— Anette Borgström (@BorgstromAnette) February 22, 2021

“If you don’t want to learn the Swedish language and don’t want to become part of Swedish society, you can always go to another country instead of Swedish society adapting to foreign cultures and languages,” Nima Gholam Alir Pour, a Sweden Democrat from Malmö, tweeted.

Om man inte vill lära sig det svenska språket och inte vill bli en del av det svenska samhället så kan man ju alltid åka till ett annat land istället för att det svenska samhället ska anpassa sig till utländska kulturer och språk.

— Nima Gholam Ali Pour (@nimagap) February 22, 2021

​“Say this is a joke, delete letters because a small group has a hard time with Å, Ä, Ö”, another one wrote.

Säg att detta är skämt, ta bort bokstäver för en liten grupp har svårt med Å,Ä,Ö!!

— Staffan (@StaffanRing) February 22, 2021

​“In Sweden, Swedish is spoken, period!”, yet another one wrote.

I Sverige pratas svenska, punkt!

— Kalle Kuhla ⚠️ 🇸🇪🐘 (@kalle_kuhla) February 22, 2021

​“Dismantling of Sweden’s soul”, another one reacted.

Nedmontering av Sveriges själ.

— Ulfi (@Ulf_Ivar) February 22, 2021

​Kallebäck is a district in the Gothenburg borough of Örgryte. Since it is home to a large facility belonging to the milk company Arla, most of its street names are named after dairy products. Its population is mostly middle-class and the share of the foreign-born (30.3 percent) is only a little higher than in the rest of Gothenburg (27.5 percent) and roughly on par with the country as a whole, depending on the calculation method used.

The letters Å, Ä and Ö are uniquely Swedish. The three letters developed when printing was imported from Germany and belong at the end of the Swedish alphabet.



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