Y is for Ystad

Y is for Ystad. This is a very small town, population 17,000, on the south coast of Sweden.

It’s biggest significant is probably that it’s the terminal for a ferry line to Poland.

But there aren’t really a lot of Y words in Swedish. The Swedish letter is equivalent to the umlauted u, that is u with two dots over it, in German, and it’s pronounced something like “ü”. One interesting aspect is that the Swedish word for young, “ung” spelled with a “u”, when it switches to younger and youngest, the u turns into a y. So there’s no “ungst” for youngest, the Swedish word is “yngst”.

Back to Ystad. Stad is Swedish for city, and it’s been suggested that the Y part goes back to the old Norse word for a Yew tree. But the place has achieved notoriety today as the location of author Henning Mankell’s crime novels featuring police inspector Kurt Wallander.

The books first appeared on television featuring actor Rolf Lassgård as Wallander. It’s said that each generation has its own such actor in such a role, for example back in the 30’s and 40’s Basil Rathbone was Sherlock Holmes, more recently Jeremy Brett made the role his own.

But, strangely, while Lassgård was still making new Wallander films, a whole new series launched, with the support of the author, featuring a completely different actor.

And now, the BBC is making new Wallander films with Kenneth Brannagh.

This is enough to make you dizzy, and by a strange coincidence, “yr” the Swedish word for dizzy, also begins with the letter “y”.