As the Wall Street Journal reported, furniture retailer and global giant IKEA had to watch its Swedish tongue to avoid unintentionally titillating Thai consumers. Although product names still generally fit with the company’s unique naming system of names and objects from the Scandinavian region, a team of Thai translators tweaked the words to avoid being “racy.”
“‘The Swedish…words are important because they bring a unique character to the brand,’ says one member of the team, Natthita Opaspipat. She spent nearly four years preparing for the launch of IKEA’s Bangkok store by carefully scrutinizing terms to see how they sounded in Thai before transliterating them into Thailand’s cursive, Sanskrit-influenced alphabet. In some cases, she and other team members had to change a vowel sound or a consonant to prevent unfortunate misunderstandings.”
So, you’re welcome to order your Jättebra, but it will be a decorative pot for a plant not an invitation to … well, anything we won’t mention here.
The WSJ delivers up other examples from the world’s examples of corporations-that-blundered-into-language-lore. See it here at “IKEA’s Products Make Shoppers Blush in Thailand.” Have your own examples? Share it in the comments.