Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Helsinki is used to refer to the city in most languages, but not in Swedish.

The Swedish name Helsingfors is the original official name of the city of Helsinki (in the very beginning, spelled Hellssingeforss). The Finnish language form of the name probably originates from Helsinga and similar names used for the river that is currently known as the Vantaa River as documented already in the 14th century. Helsingfors comes from the name of the surrounding parish, Helsinge (source for Finnish Helsinki) and the rapids (Swedish: fors), which flowed through the original village.

Another suggestion is that the name Helsinge may have originated with medieval Swedish settlers who came from Hälsingland in Sweden. Others have proposed that the name derives from the Swedish word hals (neck), referring to the narrowest part of the river, i.e. the rapids.

There is no record of Lowry ever visiting Helsinki. Lowry mentions many places in his works which he never visited - many of them relate to shipping/sea voyages/ports especially in his first novel Ultramarine; “Going round the land in Finland we make a small wisit (sic) this trip to Helsingfors.” (Pg.20)

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