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Ikea: funny in any language

Writer and translator Susanne Pleines finds that the Ikea catalogue provides hours of fun for the easily-entertained, English or German

IKEA? We just love IKEA. Our whole bi-lingual family has spent entire Saturdays in stores both in the UK and Germany and jumped on virtually every bed in the children’s department. We’ve wined and dined in the IKEA restaurant and populated our home with unlikely-sounding Billy, Ivar, Godis Skum and Poäng.

IKEA is a fabulous success story where our family is concerned. Never more so when the company brings out its new catalogue and we all go on a hunt for… no, not the latest iconic designer table but the funniest product names.  In the UK, we have been entertained in the past by the likes of the Jerker desk, the Skanka pans, and the Prik by the yard.

And in Germany, the fun goes on. Our son spotted the Kagge vase, which prompted an outburst of toilet humour. Or the Viren toilet brush, suitably named to remind us where viruses live. We were particularly enchanted with Lustifik as it implies that sex can, indeed, be a very happy affair – even on a shoe rack! The same applies to the Gutvik bunk bed which does sound x-rated to German ears but is, after all, simply a peaceful village in Sweden.

On the other hand, we were not inclined to buy, let alone eat Äppelkaka, although it turned out to be a yummy cake rather than the ‘apple shit’ it implied!

As I said, hours of entertainment. And when the kids are in bed, we adults have fun with the website ‘Ikea or Death‘ . See if you can guess correctly each time whether a given name is an IKEA product or a death metal band somewhere in this universe…

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