Alan Dee: There’s an ickle bit of an issue with trying to change our language
As I think I’ve established to the satisfaction of a working majority, I am a being of the male persuasion.
As such, my reaction to the prospect of a trip to a well-known Swedish furniture warehouse is roughly akin to that of a four-legged friend who gets early warning of a trip to the vets to get his tackle trimmed.
A certain understandable reluctance and a grim feeling of foreboding, to be sure – it’s not just the experience itself, it’s the flatpack assembly horror that could well follow. All best avoided, if you ask me.
We have a sufficient stock of tealights to see us through a month-long blackout, I have no use for a pocket full of miniature pencils and the meatballs are, to put it bluntly, a manky mouthful I’m happy to avoid.
But I’m a live and let live sort of guy, and as far as I am concerned if they stay out of my way I’m happy to return the courtesy.
The purveyors of Billy bookcases and Skanka saucepans have been foisting upon us their daft product names and circle of hell store layouts for 25 years and more, and we’ve put up with it.
But at least they never tried to pick us up on our pronunciation – until now.
When Ikea arrived on our shores, we all looked at the name and came to a consensus – that’s Eye-key-ah, that is, and that’s what we’ll call it.
None of the sneaky Swedish sorts who were insidiously infiltrating their blue and yellow sheds onto these shores was minded to pick us up on it – they were just interested in getting a foothold and marching on.
Now they reckon they’re a national institution, and apparently it’s all changed.
According to the firm’s latest TV campaign, we’ve been getting it wrong for a quarter of a century and now they’re going to put us right.
Not in a direct way, of course, that’s not their style – but just by saying it how they say it back home in Stockholm. Again, and again, and again, until we learn.
When the new way to say the name caused my ears to prick up, I checked it out – and apparently if you’re in Gothenburg or Malmo it’s not Eye-key-ah but Icky-er. And they seem to be suggesting that it’s time for us all to fall in line.
Really? I realise this type of global branding realignment is commonplace – Marathon became Snickers, Jif became Cif, Oil Of Ulay turned into Oil Of Olay for reasons I still don’t understand.
But a change of name can make economic sense for a global brand – a change of pronunciation serves no purpose, particularly when it’s a backward step.
Don’t they realise that if something is icky it’s not very nice, and naturally if it’s ickier it’s even worse?
But as far as those meatballs are concerned, they’ve got it spot on, as any sensible snacker will agree.