Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Ikean understand it"

J'adore my new 100% cotton towels from IKEA. They are navy on one side and bleu-de-travail on the other, and just the right size for the gym bag and for waist wrappage while walking to the showers. With each step, they vent high on the thigh making the wearer more like a Rockette and less like a Hobbit. The hang-loop is thoughtfully attached at the center of one side to prevent floor grazing while drying.

At IKEA, every piece of furniture, every utensil and every household whatever is tagged with a name in the special Ikean language. For instance, my towels are called "TOFTBO" which means "This is not what you came here for but you will buy some anyway." As I walked through the kitchen cabinetry, chair, bed and sofa displays, and learned the names of all the offerings, I began to wonder if in Ikealand there is a disdain for hearth and home. Such nasty names for things designed for comfort. Morgflort. Drabglub. Loorkprut. It is clear to me that the two root words of the Ikean language are "barf" and "splat". The addition of an umlaut or a doubled vowel indicates color or size options.

I have studied my towels' two-sided tags and can now recognize the "fabric of our lives" in eighteen languages, but some of the Ikean abbreviations elude me. Switzerland? Sweden? Hungary?

I washed them before using them and am happy to report that because they were treated with glorpsplurd, their colors didn't run!



Blogger Jim said...

You got "HU" (Hungarian) and "SE" (Swedish), but "SK" is Slovakian.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous henry said...

How modern, they seem to be using the internet suffixes. I'm somewhat surprised that China and Japan have apparently joined the European Union?? How did I miss that one?

HU- Hungary, indeed. I think it comes from the common reaction when one is addressed in Hungarian. A very strange language.
SE- Sweden. Svenska Empire or something like that. They used to own most of Scandinavia. Now Ikea itself does.

What is bleu-de-travail?? A labored blue = indigo??

4:37 PM  
Blogger joe said...

Yep: SK would be Slovakia, HU=Hungary, SE=Sweden. I think every abbreviation on that label corresponds to the countries' internet domains.

One thing that makes me glad I studied Swedish (very useful, thank you very much) for a little over six months is that I can chuckle knowingly about a lot of the IKEA product names. Sorry to take the romance out of it, but it seems like a huge number of them are just Swedish geographical place names. Anything ending in "-vik" usually refers to a bay or city on a bay. Sadly, I think "Toftbo" is just a place in Denmark. No poetry in the global big-box marketplace, I'm telling you....

5:41 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

I am willing to place a small bet that the SE is Sweden because of the word bomull, the rest, not a clue.

I am probably going to have my gay card revoked for this, but I have yet to enter an Ikea store.

Happy showering. I am sure you are quite fetching regardless of the length of your towel.

6:14 PM  
Blogger R J Keefe said...

Google broken?
SK — Slovakia
SE — Sverige (Sweden)
HU — Hungarian (pamut = cotton)

6:24 PM  
Blogger Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Henry,
Bleu de travail that a vivid blue that one sees in Moroccan tile or as an accent against white in Greek islands. Probably my favorite color. II think I could live in it.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Homer said...

IKEA housewares are acceptable. I think their furniture is just plain awful.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Tater said...

Ikea stores give me hives. I feel like a dog endlessly circling, looking for a comfortable place to lie down, or do my business. The hours and frustration putting the purchases together, enter into the "value" equation for me, and I usually wind up buying elsewhere.

Off to shop for blue de travail boxers...

6:58 AM  
Blogger SubtleKnife said...

The internet domain explanation doesn't quite hold, alas. Check out the English line for the tag. It says GB and not UK.

I hope you'll enjoy your towels very much.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Thank you for that, SubtleKnife! Makes me feel soo much less dumb. Anyway, I cut the tags off. They made my hips look fat.

3:12 PM  
Blogger SubtleKnife said...

Pffft! You are soooo not dumb!

My hips are fat, so I don't bother taking off tabs.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous thatgrrl said...

Wikipedia's Ikea page explains how they name products- bathroom products are named for Swedish bodies of water. How cute!

11:46 PM  

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