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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Landskrona, Sibirien and Jeriko. Borrowed Place Names in Sweden down through the Ages

M Wahlberg
Institutet för språk och folkminnen (SOFI), Sweden

Since the Middle Ages, a succession of names has been added to the place nomenclature of Sweden that have been borrowed, ready-made, from other countries. In many cases, these names have the form native to Swedish, e.g., Kina (‘China’) and Sibirien (‘Siberia’). Names borrowed in something closer to their original form have often been reshaped linguistically, once they have been incorporated into the Swedish place name stock. Borrowed names may sometimes be examples of ‘pure name transfer’, the principal reason for their adoption being the prestige and glory associated with their original bearers. Others may have been attached to the site in question as a result of their secondary associations, e.g., Kina for a yellow house or Sibirien referring to fields that are remote, exposed to frost or difficult to cultivate.
Medieval examples of loan names of German origin are the town names Landskrona and Falkenberg and the common settlement name Rosendal (Ger. Rosenthal). In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many smallholdings on large estates were named after foreign places associated with Sweden’s many wars, e.g., Lützen and Narva.
A special group of name borrowings consists of Biblical names, e.g., Betlehem and Jeriko.

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