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The Name Inspector has sort of been on vacation this week, but came across a name whose existence cannot go unremarked. It’s Thoof, for a user-submitted news personalization site. This is a name that defies criticism. It’s so intentionally meaningless and phonetically counterintuitive that it renders irrelevant any earnest discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. A commenter on TechCrunch said it sounds like a potato gun being shot. What more is there to say?

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6 Responses to “Mini-post: Thoof”

  1. on 27 Jul 2007 at 9:45 am John

    As I said on Nancy’s blog, I don’t see how it is phonetically counterintuitive. It doesn’t break any rules. It’s an accidental gap.

  2. on 27 Jul 2007 at 9:58 am The Name Inspector

    John, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure the name breaks any “rules”, but I can’t think of any other word in my variety of English that has the theta followed by the high front rounded vowel.

  3. on 27 Jul 2007 at 11:40 am John

    What about “enthusiasm”. It’s just an accident that we don’t have the word “thoof”. Old English had þóðer “ball”, which, if it had survived, would have turned into a word with theta + high back rounded vowel.

  4. on 27 Jul 2007 at 1:01 pm The Name Inspector

    Right, back, not front. I meant I couldn’t think of anything else that has the combination in word-initial position. I just think the fact that the combination is so unusual is part of what makes it strange to some people. Even if a sound sequence exists in English, like the the final consonant combination in the word “sixth”, it might still seem strange and/or difficult to say, especially if it’s rare.

  5. on 15 May 2008 at 11:44 pm Kay

    It sounds decidedly stupid…somewhere between “thud” and “oof”. Awful for a news site!

    On a side note, I love your site (just discovered it through my favorite gum, Watering Kissmint, which is why I’m remarking on this oldfaced post). I thought it would just be a bunch of funny names at first, but the grammatical comments grew on me. It’s interesting how little most of us think about sounds and words until someone makes us.

  6. on 03 Aug 2008 at 10:51 pm Nikos Bilalis

    Unsurprisingly, Thoof didn’t last long, after all.

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/02/another-personalized-news-site-bites-the-dust/

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