Wednesday, July 31, 2002

I live on the Farmer Street. That would be Bondegatan in Swedish.

I've always found the name charming, if a bit mundane.

Here in Stockholm, the names of streets, roads, avenues, alleys, lanes and hills seem to have practical and historical origins.

There are Kungsgatan and Drottninggatan, the King's Street and Queen Street - for some reason, the possessive -s- is only there for the king, implying that while he owns his own street, the poor queen doesn't own hers. Odd, that.

There is Narvavägen - The Narva Road - which I assume is named after a famous 18th century battle in the once-Swedish city of Narva, which is now in Estonia.

There are Linnégatan and Birger Jarlsgatan and Morten Trotzigsgränd, one named after the famous Swedish botanist Carl von Linné, one named for a medieval Swedish ruler, and one named for - uh, I have no idea who Morten Trotzig was, I only know it is the smallest street in Stockholm, basically a narrow set of steps leading from one street to another.

There are Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan - the West and East Long Streets - both of them in the old town, the names really just a description of what were assuredly the longest streets of Stockholm some 700 years ago when the city was young.

There is Lidingövägen, the street that leads from the city of Stockholm to the bridge that takes one to the island of Lidingö.

There is Fredrikshovsgatan, a short street that runs next to the sight of a former royal palace that was called Fredrikshovs Castle.

And there is my favorite, Tystagatan, the Quiet Street.

History, honor, direction, description.

I'd love to see a map that explains why all the streets are named what they are named.

Who gets to choose, huh?

The Swedish phrase for the day is Vem är rädd för Virginia Woolf? It means, of course, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?

- by Francis S.

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