Door #4: Not Pining for the Fjords

4 December 2007 at 20:04 Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to post about this ever since I first mentioned one of this year’s hot new scents (library-smell perfume), which appeared on’s holiday gift guide (scroll down to find the reference).

A few pages further in their list of gifts, Salon’s Joy Press suggests buying Peter Bjorn and John’s album Writer’s Block for the “culture vulture” in your life. Press describes the Swedish trio’s breakout song “Young Folks” as “fresh as morning mist bouncing off the fjords.”

Now, far be it for me to step on anyone’s simile, but the requisite fjord allusions in reviews of Swedish movies, films, music, etc. are starting to approach snowclone levels of cliché.

For once and for all, Sweden doesn’t really have fjords — at least not in the sense that Norway or Greenland or even Alaska does.

fjard.jpgSometimes Swedes will use the word fjord to mean what is usually called a fjärd (pronounced, fyaird) in Swedish, that is an open ocean area in an archipelago. And when the islands are steep and rocky and sit close together as they sometimes do on Sweden’s west coast or on the Höga Kusten (The High Coast) along the Gulf of Bothnia, you can almost get the feeling that you’re in a fjord when you’re sailing between them.

I’ve seen some of these fjärds (see my vacation photo above), and although they’re beautiful in their own right, they don’t even come close to Norway’s fjords on the grandeur front.

So if you want to talk about about some ethereally beautiful Swedish ditty, compare it to the sunlight on new-fallen snow or the rush of an arctic stream, but forget the fjords already.

And don’t even think about making polar bear references.


Entry filed under: Julkalendar, Media, Sweden.

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