Monday, March 10, 2008

An unusual use of geographic terms

Laura Heymann pointed me to the following story, via Law & Letters:
Two Danish academics ... concluded that the Swedish names are reserved for the “better” products [at Ikea], and that even Norwegian names manage to make it into the bed department. But the “lesser” products bear Danish names like “Roskilde” and “Köge.”…Upholstered furniture, bookcases and multimedia consoles, for example, are named after small Swedish cities, while Norwegian towns serve as the namesakes of beds, dressers and hallway furniture. Names of Finnish origin grace the company’s chairs and dining tables.
NB: following the links leads to a retraction, perhaps because of more stringent European defamation laws. Apparently the analysis was not "thorough" as initially reported. (It does not appear that Danish names actually appear on prestige products, as far as the reporting indicates.) Another notable feature of the retraction is that it appears at the web address of the initial story. In this way, web publication allows for much better error correction, even as it means that errors can propagate quickly around the internet. If people follow the links to the initial source, web corrections are an improvement on publication in a subsequent edition of a paper or magazine.

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