Illustration for article titled The Time Ikea Almost Offended Everyone in Thailand by Naming Furniture After Raunchy Sex Acts

Yeah, Redalen is the name for a bed sold by Ikea, but it also sounds a lot like the Thai term for getting to third base. So before the Swedish furniture company opened up shop in Thailand last year, it called on some translators to ensure none of its tongue-twisting product titles were offensive.


For about four years leading up to the opening of the Bangkok store, Ikea had language buffs carefully analyzing the long, hard-to-say names, and consulted a panel of Thai speakers who helped them with some modifications. Sometimes that meant removing a consonant or changing a vowel sound. It wasn't just about how they were written in the Thai alphabet, either, but about how they sounded when read aloud. In some cases, the changes really had to happen. Jättebra, for example, is a planter. To the Thai ear, though, it sounds a lot like a slang term for doin' the nasty. So they changed it. Part of the challenge was that Ikea didn't want to eschew these signature names—though it needed to avoid christening furniture with names that might alienate some more conservative costumers.

Good idea? Maybe! Or maybe those names would have sold a bunch of ordinarily slow-moving planters... [WSJ via Huffington Post]


Image: Adriano Castelli /

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