June 30, 2008

IKEA: You buy it, you pronounce it

The ground has been officially broken: IKEA (pronounced “eye-KEY-uh”) is coming to Charlotte.

The Swedish mega-store is known for its affordable home furnishings, tasty meatballs, and distinctive Scandinavian names. And while the word-nerd in me gets jiggy at the sight of products named POÄNG and BESTÅ ENÖN, some may think that IKEA simply enjoys seeing us clumsy Americans struggle with three extra letters in the alphabet.

But the names do follow convention. So, thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, here is the IKEA taxonomy:

  • Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, media storage: Swedish place names
  • Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian place names
  • Dining tables and chairs: Finnish place names
  • Bookcase ranges: Occupations
  • Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
  • Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes other names
  • Chairs, desks: men’s names
  • Materials, curtains: women’s names
  • Garden furniture: Swedish islands
  • Carpets: Danish place names
  • Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
  • Bed linen, bed covers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones; words related to sleep, comfort, and cuddling
  • Children’s items: mammals, birds, adjectives (DUKTIG, meaning: good, well-behaved)- line
  • Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
  • Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
  • Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish place names
  • And in case you were wondering: IKEA is an acronym for Ingvar Kamprad, the founder, who grew up on Elmtaryd farm, in Agunnaryd.

    Contributed by: Maghan Cook


    1. Betsy Lard   July 8, 2008 11:01 am / Reply

      I’m not sure that my IKEA product pronunciation will get any better, but I’m looking forward to many in-store practice sessions.

    2. Jay in Atlanta   December 23, 2008 12:07 am / Reply

      The popular, classic IKEA Poäng armchair (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S69840170), has a very springy/bouncy frame. The chair’s flexibility and durability is demonstrated in the store with a pneumatic machine that simulates a person sitting on it thousands of times.

      Clearly the name Poäng comes from the little sound the chair makes when a really heavy person stands up from a sitting position. POÄNG! :)

    3. ScottEU   August 28, 2009 3:14 pm / Reply

      The correct pronunciation for it is “ee-kay-ah”, it is a European brand :)

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