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Ikea, What’s Thai for Oops



Ikea Launches New Catalogue in Thailand with Translation concerns


CHIANGRAI TIMES  – Ikea has hired translators in Thailand over concerns its product names could run afoul of the country’s conservative mores. Redalen, a town in Norway after which a bed sold by the Swedish furniture chain is named, sounds similar to a sex act in Thailand.

As the retail giant continues to expand into new markets, it is discovering that the tongue-twisting Scandinavian names utilized for merchandise may have untoward meanings in other languages.

The company realized that terms like Jättebra, for a plant pot, can echo a crude Thai term for sex after it launched its fifth-largest superstore in Bangkok last year.

So, Ikea hired locals to scrutinize product names to see how they sounded in Thai before transliterating them into Thailand’s cursive, Sanskrit-influenced alphabet. In some cases, they changed a vowel sound or a consonant to prevent unfortunate misunderstandings, said the Journal.

Ikea was actually in a very fortunate position in the context of Thailand in the sense of because there’s a transliteration issue you have the ability to make some adjustments,” he said. “That’s not the case when you’re talking about using roman characters in a new environment.

For any brand, it’s always worth giving some thought, right from the start, to the meaning of your brand when it translates from one market to the next. In the case of Ikea products…it’s more complicated because they have that many more names that they’ve got to check, but it’s simpler in the sense that the company doesn’t survive on the success or failure of any one of those products.

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