anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Language ponderings

with 2 comments

I’m getting interviewed for NPR show The World tomorrow, all because of this post about IKEA that I wrote for Gadling a few weeks ago. Basically IKEA has a pretty complex system for naming things. For example, sofas and coffee tables are named after places in Sweden while wardrobes and hall furniture are after Norwegian locations. I am getting interviewed to talk about the Swedish language and different translations of things.
In regards to IKEA, Danes recently went into an uproar about the “mocking” nature of the store in only naming items like doormats after Danish places. Apparently doormats and carpets are considered “lesser” furniture after cooler and hipper things like couches. So what do the Danes do? Call IKEA’s system of naming their products a new form of cultural imperialism. Seriously.

This brings me back to the issues of foreign language and language in general. Most non-Scandinavian language speakers probably never put a thought into what their IKEA bed’s name really meant. Or the spice containers for that matter. But to the Scandinavian community, these names are cute, quirky, and, in the case of Denmark, symbolic of cultural frustration.

Language has many purposes. We use it to communicate, but we also use it to associate with certain cultures, traditions and societies. So for the Danes, IKEA using Danish places to name un-cool things like doormats hits a soft spot. It might sound ridiculous, but then again, you’ve never gotten in a room full of nationalistic Scandinavians.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 28, 2008 at 11:58

Posted in Bike Love, Portfolio

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. You’ve been holding out on us. no mention of this wonderful little website of yours at all. I’m hurt.

    nice work anna.

    stiv

    April 24, 2008 at 19:50

  2. […] language podcast that I referred to a while back is finally up. Patrick Cox, a very friendly BBC journalist, chatted with me about […]

    Speak IKEA?

    April 30, 2008 at 21:14


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