N is for Nu

N is for Nu, which is not the Swedish word for “new”, that is “ny”, with a y.

No, the Swedish word “nu” means “now”. But you can see that all of these words are related. The Swedish and English words for “new”, for example, come from the Greek “neo”.

But nu, n-u, has gained a very interesting role in the modern Swedish world of the Internet. Sweden has been allocated the national domain dot s-e. But back when the Worldwide Web appeared, the authorities here were very restrictive about who got to use a dot s-e. Basically you had to have a company registered with the patent office, which far too expensive for ordinary people and small organizations.

Then someone noticed that the island nation of Niue in the Pacific Ocean had been allocated the domain dot n-u, nu. And they started marketing n-u domains. Swedes flocked to the alternative, and they are responsible for most of the 170,000 registered nu domains. And those 170,000 domains are supposedly for a country of 1700, which means there are 100 nu domains for every inhabitant of the island of Niue.

So, when you’re surfing the Net, and you run into the word nu, it might not be a tropical Polynesian paradise you’re visiting, it might just be a site based up here in the frozen north.

Of course, in 1980, way back before the Internet boom, nu meant something else to Tomas Ledin when he represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest, with “Just Nu”, “Right Now”.