by Debora Russi


We all know various examples from all sorts of industries which failed to check their product names in other languages. Just today I have read an article in the Wall Street Journal which described another example of product names lost in translation. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA named his bed frame Redalen after a town in Norway, which sounds like a Thai term for sexual intercourse. The plant pot Jättebra also sounds like an impolite term for the sex act. Almost all IKEA products have tongue-twisting Scandinavian names which bring a unique character to the whole product line and play part of the marketing strategy. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that those names can also have other meanings in other languages. What now? Next time it would be better to hire a translation service or do you want to own a car that is called “Pajero” which in Spanish means “wanker”?  Linguistic land mines are all over the places and if businesses are to be successful on the international stage they must be sure that the message is communicated properly in foreign languages.

Enjoy your week!