Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ikea hires translator after bed's name matches sex act in Thailand -

Ikea hires translator after bed's name matches sex act in Thailand - 

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant hires translator to vet merchandise as product names run afoul of Thailand’s conservative mores. Their story is just the latest example of the perils of names in a globalized economy.

Ikea has apparently hired translators in Thailand to make sure its product names don’t 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, says a Wall Street Journal report.

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 paper said.

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

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; and in some cases, they changed a vowel sound or a consonant to prevent unfortunate misunderstandings, the paper said.

Ikea was unable to respond to questions by the Star Tuesday.

Such are the perils of globalization.

There have been several brand translation hiccups over the last few decades.

In Germany, for example, Vicks cough drops became Wicks, because the word “vicks” is slang for sex. And Buick LaCrosse drew snickers from Quebecois teenagers who use the term “lacrosse” when talking about masturbation.

Way back in 1928, Coca-Cola thoughtfully consulted translators for its advertisements when it ventured into the Chinese market. However, some eager shopkeepers made their own Coke signs with phonetic translations which read “Bite the wax tadpole.”

Earlier this year, Kraft Foods Inc raised eyebrows with the announcement its global snacks business will soon be called Mondelez. While critics discussed pronunciation and meaning of the invented word which was conceived in an employee contest, Russian speakers recognized its similarity to a sex-related term.

“So for the next 20 years, (Kraft) will be gun shy in Russia and they will always be explaining how the word was created in a process where 11,000 employees participated in a creative handholding exercise,” said naming specialist Naseem Javed, the head of the Brampton-based ABC Namebank, which came up with such monikers as Telus and Celestica.

“When you are dealing with 240 countries and over 100 languages, periodically you will run into these bad names and it is a nightmare for companies and then they have to go through complete defense mode and come up with strategies and solutions and try to correct them.”


No comments:

Post a Comment