Lund – city name or something else?

- in In English, Internationellt, På djupet

Lund is not only the name of a city – it is also an offensive word in both Hindi and Urdu. Lundagård spoke to two Indian Master's students regarding their feelings about the unfortunately named university.

A couple of years ago, Lund university started noticing a peculiar trend. Every once in a while, the university’s social media channels were flooded with comments laughing and making fun of the name Lund. The international desk at LU quickly understood that Lund, which means “green area” in Swedish, means something else entirely in Hindi and Urdu. More precisely it means ”penis” and could be used to insult someone. However, it is pronounced very differently from how Lund is pronounced in Swedish even if the spelling is the same. 

During the summer of 2020 a Facebook page from Lund university international office went viral and several media channels, both in Sweden and in India, reported on the story. According to Maria Lindblad, international communicator at LU, the page was bombarded with comments and people tagging their friends, which made it even bigger. All of a sudden, the alternative meaning of Lund University was blowing up the internet. However, this seemed to die down a bit after a couple of weeks and the question is now; is this still a problem in 2023? 

Lundagård contacted the international office and got to speak with Rebecca van der Steen, international marketing manager with main responsibility for prospective students from India.

How big of a “problem” is this for the international office? 

“It comes up every so often as kind of a “funny thing” maybe because a video is shared, or someone reads an article and it becomes a thing for a brief period of time”, Rebecca van der Steen says. 

Now she is rarely confronted with it and when asked about the frequency of people making fun of the name Lund on social media she says: 

“Honestly, never nowadays. I think we had one comment in the last year”.

According to the Lund University website, over 500 Indian students are applying to the university every year, which makes India one of the biggest countries for incoming students. Since Lund means what it means in Hindi and Urdu, one might wonder how the marketing towards these countries is done.

Has this affected how you market yourself to India? 

“We prefer to use more word-of-mouth advertising”, Rebecca van der Steen explains. 

This is mainly done through online-seminars since the pandemic has made online networking a lot easier, according to Rebecca van der Steen. She explains that this is an effective way of getting around the issue of the name since the pronunciation is very different in Swedish.

Siddhi Mishra.
Photo: Alexandra Roslund

Lundagård also had the opportunity to talk to two Indian students who study their Master’s here. Siddhi Mishra is studying Cultural Criminology and found her Master’s programme online.

Was it difficult explaining to your parents that you were going to Lund? 

“They did not laugh at the name, but they were a little bit surprised by it”, Siddhi says. 

Did you react to the name when you heard it? 

“No not personally, but yeah, I had a lot of comments when I put it up, not on LinkedIn, but on Facebook. I updated my profile and I get it, I mean… kids are immature.”

Another student, Amit Amulani, who studies for a Master’s in Logistics and Supply Chain Management had some reservations about coming to Lund. Amit found Lund University when he was browsing different Master programmes online and became a bit surprised about the name at first. 

Amit Amulani.
Photo: Alexandra Roslund

“I wasn’t planning on going here, just because of the name, to be honest. But after looking at the courses they were giving and comparing it with other universities I realized I shouldn’t look at the name of the university, but at the quality of the education”, Amit says.

Amit reveals that he did have some doubts though and he was thinking about how to tell his friends and family about the university he was going to go to. 

“I actually didn’t tell them I was going to this university, I only said I am going to a university in Sweden, he says and laughs a little bit.”

Since being admitted to a university outside of India is a big accomplishment, Amit says that his parents were only happy for him. When he arrived here, he told them which university he was attending and his parents did not have a problem with the name at all. Amit tells Lundagård that he is very happy about choosing Lund for his master’s studies, but just as Siddhi he has received some comments about his choice of city. 

“When I started posting stories on Instagram from here, rather than people congratulating me, they were asking me ‘where have you gone?! What city are you in?!’”