The IKEA Obsession:
Hi, welcome to another advanced English reading task that teaches you advanced English, improves your general knowledge, and examines life and culture in the twenty-first century. As you will discover, however, when an Ingocio teacher examines life today, he often takes a journey far into the past. Before we take that journey, however, let’s learn some advanced English vocabulary that you will hear in this week’s listening exercise.
Five key words/expressions
- To feature: contain, to star, to have.
E.g. Other Ikea adverts have also featured Brazilian football stars. ’Features’ on a mobile phone are its functions and characteristics. However, the verb to feature – presentar – when used with films, adverts or TV shows is used to talk about its star or important aspects of its content. For example, Copolla’s new documentary features the president of Honduras. Use the word: Would a film about your life feature a beautiful, young Italian model? If not, who would it feature?
- Items: objects (for sale).
E.g. Bathroom items are cheaper. Items – artículos – is a general word commonly used in shops or businesses that means ‘things’. It can be used to refer to products but in a meeting it can also be used to refer to things you want to discuss. Use the word: What sort of items do you buy before you go to the beach?
- Range: product line.
E.g. A new range of childrens’ toys. A range – gama – is a line of products. For example, Armani has just created a tracksuit for its new range of sportswear. Use the word: What’s your favourite range of sportswear?
- Assembled: Mounted, put together.
E.g. Furniture was delivered already assembled. Assembled – montado – means that something with different parts has been put together. Use the word: Are most of the world’s manufactured goods assembled in China?
- Exemplify: is a good example of.
E.g. These exemplify our fascination with Ikea. Exemplify – ejemplificar – is a verb that is linked to the word ‘example’. It is a more educated way of saying, “this is an example of…”. Use the word: Do you think that the invasion of the Falkland islands exemplifies Britain’s imperial nature?
Now it’s time to repeat todays words – To Feature presentar, Items artículos, Range gama, Assembled montado, and Exemplify ejemplificar – Okay, let’s listen to this week’s audio, but remember, this class is just one module of the unique learning experience called Ingocio. Visit ingocio.com and start improving your career your general knowledge and your English. Download the free version… now!
Advanced English Reading 2 – IKEA obsession
Today we’re going to talk about IKEA… starting with… what is the meaning of the word IKEA?
Well, it’s simple: in English it has no meaning; and don’t think you’ll have any more success in Swedish. You see, IKEA is an acronym consisting of the founder’s initials. So, the founder of IKEA is called ‘I’ngvar ‘K’amprad, which gives us the letter ‘I’ and ‘K’, the farm he grew up on was, ‘E’lmtaryd, which gives us ‘E’ and the town where he was born, ‘A’gunnaryd, which gives us the ‘A’. IKEA.
Ingvar started up the company in 1943 when he was seventeen years old as a mail order company in the middle of a forest. By 2012, it had a 23 billion Euro turnover, 125,000 employees and stores in 38 countries. Whether it’s the meatballs in its cafeteria or the bookshelves in the shop, everybody loves IKEA.
But we all know that… now I’m going to tell you 7 things you don’t know about IKEA.
- IKEA created the world’s first advert with a gay couple in it. The advert was shown for six weeks in 1994 but withdrawn after the company received bomb threats. IKEA adverts have also featured transsexuals assembling their new IKEA furniture.
- There is a skeleton in the IKEA closet. Ingvar Kamprad was involved in the Swedish Nazi movement in the nineteen forties. The IKEA chairman referred to it as the greatest mistake of his life.
- When opening a new store in Saudi Arabia the company was offering 150 Euro promotional coupons. Three people died in a stampede to get the coupons when store doors opened. They were crushed to death.
- After some initial controversies about the chemicals in its products IKEA now exemplifies a green company. In 2008 it even started up a venture capital fund called IKEA Greentech to promote research into renewable energy.
- Amazingly, IKEA is not a Swedish company. In 1982 Kamprad gave all his shares in the company to a Dutch non-profit organisation. This was not for charitable reasons but to reduce tax commitments.
- However, IKEA does do a lot of charity work via the INGKA Foundation. In fact it is the world’s largest charity with a cash and asset value totalling 36 billion dollars.
- The strange names of IKEA furniture come, mostly, from Nordic words. For example, all beds have Norwegian place names, dining room tables and chairs are Finnish place names, and bathroom items are names of Swedish rivers or lakes. One of the funniest is the range of children’s toys called DUKTIG which means well-behaved.
So, I hope you enjoyed those facts. Somebody else who would find them interesting, of course, is Tyler Durden from the film, Fight Club, who, just before his apartment blows up, gives us a meticulous list of all his Ikea products and furniture.
The fact that IKEA features in a film on consumer culture doesn’t really surprise me because when I walked around IKEA last Saturday, surrounded by lamps and sofas and bookshelves, it caused me to reflect on consumer culture. I had this schizophrenic pleasure of being surrounded by all those shiny new products, combined with guilt at my total consumerism.
“Look at yourself, Lynch,” I said. “And look at everybody else…. so obsessed with all these objects. Surely there’s something wrong with this.”
But the consumer me replied…
“But what is man?” I asked myself. “What was the first thing stone age men did the second they gained intelligence…they picked up rocks to use as tools and not only used rocks as an object… but used it to make other objects.”
But the consumer guilt replied…
“No… basic use of tools has been shown throughout the animal kingdom… the first thing Homo Sapiens did was paint… bury his dead, and explore his spirituality… this culture we live in is an aberration… a mutated religion of consumerism and…”
“Shall we get the Dortron dining table with the matching black chairs? Or maybe we should get the more expensive Shonrig table and buy the chairs next month?” says my wife, suddenly interrupting my thoughts.
I turn to my 8 year old son. “What do you think, Sam?”
My wife presumes I’m referring the choice of tables to him, but I’m not. In my mind I’m asking Sam to choose between these two interpretations of IKEA…. A natural and admirable sign of human ingenuity or a sick cathedral of consumerism.
He psychically receives the choice I’ve broadcast him and his little face shows his indecision. Then he smiles and answers decisively…
“Let’s go and eat meatballs, papa.”
Ok, I’d like to finish our advanced English reading class today by asking for some student input. Your writing task this week is to visit our website – advancedenglish.net or our facebook page – advanced English Vocatic – and tell us what you think about IKEA, and why people love it so much. Okay… thanks very much and we’ll see you next week.
- A mail order company: una empresa de compra por correo is a company which doesn’t sell its products online or in shops but advertises and delivers the product by mail to the persons house.. It started as a mail order company.
- Risen: crecido is the participle of the verb ‘rise’ which means to go up, increase or to grow. By 2011, it had risen to become a worldwide company.
- Turnover: volumen de ventas, facturación is the total amount of money that flows into a company. It is not the same as profit because profit is turnover minus costs. A 23 billion euro turnover.
- To crush: aplastar is to destroy by applying pressure from above. For example, it is necessary to crush grapes to make wine. The poor ikea shoppers were crushed to death.
- Shares: acciones are small percentages of a company’s value that can be bought or sold on the stock exchange.. Kamprad gave all his shares in the company to a Dutch non-profit organisation.
- Asset value: valor total del activo is the total value of a company’s or individuals assets. Assets include any property owned, machinery, brand, intellectual property etc. Asset value totalling 36 billion dollars.
- IKEA is an acronym consisting of the owners initials, the farm where he grew up and what else?
- Why was the gay advert taken off television?
- Why are a certain range of toys called DUKTIG
- In what form would your furniture have arrived in the pre-IKEA era?
- What sort of accommodation did the IT guy choose while he waited for the new store to open?
- His hometown in Sweden.
- Because the company received bomb threats.
- Because they’re for children. It means well-behaved.
- It would have arrived already assembled.