IKEA gets tongue-tied in Thailand

By 100m
June 6, 2012
Reading Time: < 1 minute
Filed under Naming, Renaming
Need a hot dog AND a couch? You’ve come to the right place.

Do you speak Thai? What about Swedish? If you answered yes to both, IKEA could really use your help.

The ready-to-assemble furniture and meatball maker, famous as much for its snap-together chairs and bookshelves as it is for its unique naming strategy, has its hands full translating its bizarre product names into foreign languages without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Like in Thailand, where some Scandinavian words sound less like coastal towns and more like slang for crude sex acts. That makes dorm room shopping with your mom extra awkward.

To battle these unfortunate transliterations, IKEA has dispatched teams of wordsmiths to the 40 countries the company currently has stores in. There they comb the stock of Swedish product names and scrub clean anything that might be considered offensive in the native tongue.

Unfortunately, the more you scrub a tongue, the less of a sense of taste you’re going to have. It’s too bad IKEA feels it has to sterilize a cool name just because a handful of people on the other side of the planet think it sounds too much like their word for “weenie.”

You can’t please everyone everywhere every time, and trying to do so will only make you generic and bland and boring. Just like your meatballs.

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