Re: Åland

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Tue Nov 08 2005 - 12:50:28 CST

  • Next message: Hans Aberg: "Re: Origin of the U+nnnn notation"

    On 8 Nov 2005, at 16:49, Philippe Verdy wrote:

    >>> Or "groups of islands" (and a province): sorry I did not think of
    >>> that. My Bonnier's Encyclopedia from 1967 suggests that the word
    >>> Åland comes from Primitive Norse: either Ahwiland, "land of island",
    >>> or "Ahvaland", "land of water"....
    >> From: "Marion Gunn" <>:
    >> That makes sense. How interesting! The Irish word for 'river' is
    >> 'abha',
    >> with historical pronunciationa like both 'ahva' and 'ahwa' - until
    >> now, I had not considered a Norse association for that particular
    >> word.

    It may still not be: One linguist said that if words in different
    languages sound alike, they are probably not etymologically related,
    as there are transition rules how sounds normally are altered. There
    is a Swedish word "å" meaning (a type of) river, but it may be
    unrelated to the "Å" in "Åland". I do not know; I'm not a linguist.

    > And what is the origin of the name of the "Oland" islands (part of
    > the Swedish territory, and that has a very similar prununciation,
    > and not very far to the South of Åland Islands in the Baltic sea)

    The dictionary above only lists Oland, with no etymology, as a county
    of the Swedish province Uppsala, the latter probably meaning
    "upplanden", i.e., the area up land, beyond the coastal area. The
    province Uppland cut the capital city Stockholm in the middle, the
    lower part being Södermanland (= Sörmland), i.e. the land of the
    Southern men (i.e., living to the south of Uppland). The Swedish
    Academy's Word book SAOB
    lists "oland" as meaning "un-land" ("o" is a way to negate the word
    following it), i.e., a wilderness or inaccessible area.

    So "Oland" and "Åland" probably have nothing in common.

    On 8 Nov 2005, at 18:09, Erkki Kolehmainen wrote:
    > FYI: What you refer to as Oland is actually Öland in Swedish, and
    > thus its pronunciation is quite different from that of Åland.

    Unless you mean "Öland", in which case "Ö" is the Swedish word for
    island. So it means "the island land", perhaps an indication of its
    size. And "ö" is pronounced similar to the "a" in the English word
    "about", but is long.

    > when you know that many people in Åland speak Swedish preferably to
    > Finnish?

    Linguistically, Åland population was (in the 1960'ies) 96.4% Swedish
    by the encyclopedia above, the dialect being Finno-Swedish. (One
    might keep in mind that nowadays there are more people with Finnish
    as first language living in Sweden, than there are people with
    Swedish as first language living in Finland.)

    > Is there really a difference of pronunciation between Oland and
    > Åland in Swedish ?

    Here, the Swedish "o" is pronounced similar to English "o" in "cool",
    and the "å" as the "a" in "fall".

    > May this justify the fact that Ålanders prefer not speaking about
    > Åland Islands, due to possible confusion with the Swedish Oland
    > Islands in oral speech ?

    One etymology of the name "Åland" suggests that it is as appropriate
    to call it the "Åland Islands" as saying "The Isle of Wight Island".
    If Oland is a county, it is natural to add "islands" when speaking
    about its islands, if it now would have contained some islands.

    Therefore, geographical name conventions intended to streamline the
    naming may actually confuse the semantics.

       Hans Aberg

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Nov 08 2005 - 14:57:42 CST