Nice Lamp. Pity About the Name


Today we bought a new lamp at Granit, a store in Stockholm that sells boxes, lamps and candles (their website is at http://www.granit.com/ but it doesn't feature the lamp). The lamp looks pretty good and it works ok but it's a pity about the name: it’s called "Prick". Actually in Swedish this word just means "dot" -- their word for the other thing is "snopp". The lamp is decorated with a dot theme so I guess it makes sense. Maybe they don't plan to sell this lamp outside of Sweden, but I think it is still short sighted to get locked in to a product name that you can't export. There are many other examples I have picked up over the years -- there's the Italian mint called "Mental" for example, and the Swedish ice cream called "Nogger Black"; perhaps not a name that would go down well in the USA. I´ll post pictures of them all on my web site later.

You can avoid these embarrassing mistakes simply by screening names before you choose them. It's not enough to search through dictionaries because sometimes the name you are checking just sounds like something unfortunate. The only way to be sure is to ask speakers of all the relevant languages to give an opinion. Over the years I have had proposals nixed at this stage because they meant something unspeakable in Bavarian dialect or huge snopp in Milanese dialect. Sometimes, though, it is easy, like when an Italian marketer once asked me if it was ok to call his product "twatt". No, I explained.

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