An interesting Danish word I learnt this week is skovtur, which means a picnic or outing, according to bab.la, or a “picnic (social gathering), not necessarily in a forest”, according to Wiktionary.
Wiktionary mentions a forest because this word is a portmanteau of skov (forest, woods), and tur (turn, trip, journey, walk, move, tour, stroll, outing). So it could be poetically translated at “forest trip/outing”. This gives me the idea that picnics in Denmark often take place in forests, or at least did in the past. Is this true? Er det sandt?
The word skov comes from the Old Norse skógr (wood, forest), from the Proto-Germanic *skōgaz (forest, wood), which is also the root of the word scaw / skaw (promontry) in some English dialects. The name of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike (formerly Scawfell), includes it, for example.
The word tur comes from the French tour (to go, turn), from the Old French tor (tower), from the Latin turris, turrem (tower), from the Ancient Greek τύρρις (túrrhis – tower), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *tauro (mountain, hill, tall structure).
The word picnic is also used in Danish. It comes, via English, from the French pique-nique, from piquer (to pick) and nique (small thing) [source].
Do other languages have interesting words for picnics?
2 thoughts on “Forest Picnics”
I would say that a “skovtur” doesn’t *necessarily* take place in a forest, but this is *very largely* the norm. If you look at the Danish landscape, at least in my general area, if it isn’t occupied by towns, crops, or beaches, then it’s forest. So when we want to go out and eat our rugbrødsmadder somewhere nice, we usually think of the forest. Now, for me, since I grew up sorrounded by forest, forests aren’t synonymous with anything out of the ordinary, but this might be the case for Copenhageners.
One should note that we also have the word “strandtur” [ˈstʁɑntuɐ̯ˀ], “strand” [stʁɑnˀ] meaning beach. A “strandtur” isn’t necessarily for bathing, as we also like to just go for walks along our windy beaches in fall and early spring, perhaps finding some “rav” – amber – on the way.
There are two French words: feminine « la tour » ‘the tower’, and « le tour » ‘the turn/walk/stroll’. The two words are not etymologically related. They just happen to have the same form. Danish »tur« is derived from the latter, not from the former, so a »skovtur« is – etymologically speaking – a ‘forest-turn’, not a ‘forest-tower’.