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Nordic FAQ - 2 of 7 - NORDEN

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   It may seem a bit silly, but this is actually a topic that every now
   and then causes rather heated discussions in s.c.n. So I'm going to be
   pretty thorough here.
   
   
   
  2.1.1 Background
  
   The Roman historian Pliny the Elder mentions in 67 CE an island called
   "Scadinauia" in the sea at the edge of the world, north of Germania.
   This, as it dawned much later to the civilized world, was in fact no
   island but the southern tip of Sweden, the province of Scania (Skne).
   The name is thought to be related to the word "skada", or "damage"
   that could be done to ships by the sand reefs outside southwestern
   Sweden. The "-avia" ending, on the other hand, probably comes from a
   word meaning "island", cf. contemporary Norwegian "ya". Thus the
   original definition of the word "Scandinavia" was purely geographical:
   it referred to the Scandinavian peninsula -- contemporary Sweden and
   Norway.
   
   Later, as people became more conscious of their culture, formed
   political unions, colonized previously uninhabited areas and conquered
   the land of their neighbours, the definition of the word started to
   stretch. "Scandinavia" became more a political and cultural concept
   than a geographic one. And since cultural boundaries tend to be less
   clearly definable than geographic ones, and political boundaries on
   the other hand move around quite a bit, the current use of the word is
   a bit of a mess.
   
   
   
  2.1.2 What is "Nordic"?
  
   Another term used of the countries covered by this FAQ is, of course,
   "Nordic countries", coming originally from French ("Pays Nordiques").
   It was at first used of "northern" (European) countries in general,
   but with the common political, economic and cultural development of
   Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, the term has in English
   widely become established as referring exclusively to said five
   countries (still, not everyone agrees; you may, for instance, find
   Canadians who are under the misconception that *they* are Nordic :-> .
   Some examples from dictionaries:
   
   [Webster's Third New International Dictionary]
   NORDIC
   4. of or relating to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

   [Oxford Reference Dictionary]
   NORDIC
   2. of Scandinavia, Finland or Iceland.

   In the Nordic languages, one has the term NORDEN ("Pohjola" or
   "Pohjoismaat" in Finnish) which is commonly used of the five Nordic
   countries which since 1956 cooperate in the Nordic Council. Some have
   tried to implant this term into English, but without much success so
   far. It does, however, occur every now and then in this newsgroup.
   
   In addition, it should be noted that after the fall of the Soviet
   Union, Latvia and especially Estonia have expressed a wish for
   extensive co-operation with the Nordic countries, emphasizing their
   many historical and cultural ties with Norden. If the Nordic Council
   manages to justify its existence even as Finland and Sweden have
   joined the EU (some politicians in the Nordic countries have
   questioned the importance of the NC in the current political
   situation), we may yet see Estonia and Latvia joining.
   
   The "Nordic race" is a topic which now and then get brought to the
   groups attention. Mostly by people living abroad. Usually the Nordic
   participants in the discussion produce disappointment on the other
   side, by stating that we consider the typical nordic look as un-exotic
   and un-sexy.
   
   Arne Kolstad writes:
          This is confusing, but nevertheless:
          While "Nordic" means somewhere a bit North; I think it is
   mostly understood as a (recently) politically defined collection of
   countries, including Scandinavia, Iceland and Finland. At least that
   is how it is understood in these countries. As a linguistic unity,
   Norden hangs well apart. In general, however, we dislike each other
   enough to form an active neighbourhood.
          Cultural relationships with other regions - Westwards for the
   Germanic, Eastwards for the Fennic - are interesting. If there is a
   political process with the outcome of defining them as Nordic (like
   the one some Balts are trying to establish), then so be it. I can't
   see, though, that poor old Scotland stands a chance as long as the
   evil empire rules.
   
   
   
  2.1.3 What is "Scandinavia"?
  
   The word "Scandinavia" presents a bit more difficulty. In Nordic
   languages, the meaning is quite clear:
   
   Skandinavien:
   Sweden, Denmark, Norway (and sometimes Iceland)
   -- the ancient lands of the Norsemen.

   The Scandinavian peninsula, on the other hand, is usually simply
   understood as comprising Norway and Sweden, despite the unclear border
   to the Kola peninsula. The northernmost part of Finland is of course
   also situated on the Scandinavian peninsula.
   
   But in English, alas, there seems to be no standard usage. This is
   mainly due to the fact that English lacks a simple and clear term for
   the five countries, and the word "Scandinavia" tends to be used for
   that purpose instead. The term "Nordic countries", in its current
   definition, is a rather recent invention, its meaning is still a bit
   obscure especially to non-Europeans, it's awkward to use and to some
   people it carries unpleasant connotations of the Aryan "Nordic race".
   Therefore, you will find that it's quite common to define the word
   "Scandinavia" in English like this:
   
   [Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English]
   SCANDINAVIAN
   1. of the countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland
      in northern Europe, or their people or languages.

   On the other hand, it is not uncommon to use the word "Scandinavia" in
   its more limited definition. An example:
   
   [The Concise Oxford Dictionary]
   SCANDINAVIAN
   1. a native or inhabitant of Scandinavia
      (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland).

   And some encyclopaedias put it like this:
   
   [The Random House Encyclopaedia]
   SCANDINAVIA
   1. region of northern Europe consisting of
      the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark;
      culturally and historically Finland and Iceland
      are often considered part of this area.

   Despite the term being rather clear for the Scandinavians themselves,
   disputes remain about how the term would be understood and derived in
   English. If the word is understood as a geographic term, how can then
   Denmark be included - as most do. If instead it's deduced from the
   area where the languages are quite similar North-Germanians, should
   Iceland logically be excluded?
   
   At the risk of disturbing some people's sleep, we will use "Nordic"
   and "Scandinavian" interchangeably throughout this FAQ, for practical
   reasons. You have been warned. :->
   
   
   
  2.1.4 What is "Baltic"?
  
   "Baltic" as a single word is in itself a bit vague, because it can
   mean either the Baltic peninsula (Balticum) or the Baltic sea (Mare
   Balticum), and it depends on the context where it's used.
   
   But, when this "Baltic" is used in connection with the word "country",
   there are two distinct concepts:
     * Baltic countries - countries in Baltikum (Estonia, Lathvia,
       Lithuania)
     * Baltic Sea countries - all countries around the Baltic Sea.
       
   The latter is normally used in connection with environmental issues
   concerning cooperative protection of the Baltic sea, and in some other
   efforts of public utility - such as occasional Miss Baltic Sea
   contests.
   
   
   



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