Three Special Nordic Letters – Ä, Ø and Å – Three Special Arctic Destination Endings

Kaunispää There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. There are three additional letters in the mainland Nordic alphabets. They come in two different versions and are all at the end of the alphabet. In Finland and Sweden it is the å, ä and ö. In Norway and Denmark it is the æ, ø and å. Ä and Æ are the same, just like the Ö and Ø.

When you travel north of the Arctic Circle you stumble upon some places that have one of this letters at the end of the name. In three different ways they reveal what the name of the destination stands for. The name denounces certain geographic key points fitting the last letters in the alphabet. In Norway it is the letter ø, in Sweden it is the letter å, and in Finland the letter ä.

Ä – … pää – fell top (Finland)

In Finland you can visit Kiilopää and Kaunispää (top right picture). Pää in Finnish is top or head. Both Kiilopää and Kaunispää are names on fell tops. Kaunispää, just north of Saariselkä, is a significant historical top point in its region. On this point a triangulation tower was built for mapping this part of Finland. There are many places ending with an ä in Finland, such as Sodankylä. Kylä is a word for village. …pää is the interesting one in this blog post.

Å – …eå – river end (Sweden)

In Sweden you find a number of places along the eastern coast called …eå. You have Luleå, Piteå, and Umeå. For instance, Piteå is the town situated at the end of the Pite älv, the Pite River. Piteå is at the mouth of the plus 400 km long Piteälven. Luleå is at the mouth of the Lule river. And the list goes on. The “å” signifies the end point of a river.

Ø – …ø – island (Norway)

In Northern Norway up and down the coast you find a number of towns ending in an ø. Towns like Bodø, Tromsø, Vardø and Vadsø. The ø is short for øy, which in English is island. Bodø is not really set on an island, it is a peninsula. But in a not so distant past it was also set on an island. Tromsø is definitely an island, so is Vardø. Both became important trading towns when boats were the means of transportation.

The Three Nordic Letters

Ä – … pää – fell top (Finland)
Å – …eå – river end (Sweden)
Ø – …ø – island (Norway)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z (Å) (Ä/Æ) (Ö/Ø)

Most places have a story in the name. These were just a few.




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