Written by Staff Writer
Sweden has officially reclaimed 21 of its place names from IKEA.
The European furniture giant has been in possession of nine of these Scandinavian place names since the 1970s but handed them back to the Swedish government on Wednesday in a deal.
“Home and nearby” has been renamed “Ingka” and “Next” has become “Moho,” while more traditional “Birka” or “Belka” will be renamed “OstAja Aja”.
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Other famous-for-a-place names being returned include “Lehtland” or “Lehtia” and “Ostpalaar” or “Aja”.
A further 11 are in talks with the furniture giant in hopes of being reclaimed, with 20 still available to buy.
“The return of the names Ingka, Moho, Next and Ostaja Aja, now officially mean that residents can now reclaim their own identity,” said Karin Sadell-Frolen, a Swedish citizenship and immigration policy expert at the Swedish Civil Registration Agency, in a statement.
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After the 1970s, Swedish call-outs “Sweden” and “Sweden” — both familiar places names — had been replaced with their English translations.
But with the new Central Register of Language Occupations up and running, householders will be able to check out the figures for the local place names.
“As time has passed, these names no longer make sense to us and to our children,” said IKEA press officer Anders Olsson in the statement.
A map showing how many place names have been returned to Sweden since Wednesday. Credit: Sweden in association with the Swedish Civil Registration Agency
Local authorities have had a high priority in reclaiming these names, said Peter Hill, from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Statutory Authorities.
“It’s not that we don’t respect the Swedish design language — to the contrary, we regard that as a very important part of what IKEA embodies,” he told CNN.
“IKEA and Swedish architecture by its very nature is also very responsive to public taste — to those kinds of times when it was there, a name feels really important.”
IKEA’s products are normally sold on the basis of the existing place names.
But the furniture giant argued that since there are over 200,000 city and town names in Sweden, there are dozens of places with two or more names.
“Despite this, it was important to us that the Swedish people have the right to reclaim their own place names, as a symbolic act of identity and community building,” Olsson added.