Archive for the 'Sound Symbolism' Category

The Name Inspector knew it. He just knew that Microsoft went with the name Bing because it makes a better verb than, say, Kumo, which sounds like a radio or TV station (like Seattle’s KOMO). Or that crazy killer dog dreamt up by Stephen King. When people write about the name Google, they almost invariably [...]

If Obama wins the presidential election, he won’t just make history for being the first black president of the United States. He’ll also break new linguistic ground in the list of presidents’ names. And The Name Inspector is not talking about the fact that his middle name is Hussein. Coming to terms with the blend [...]

Entrepreneur and longtime reader Rich Skrenta has a search start-up called Blekko (click on that link and say hi!). It was covered on TechCrunch, and then Rich wrote a follow-up blog post telling the story of the name Blekko and asking for The Name Inspector’s input. OK, here goes. Obviously Blekko is a ridiculous name [...]

While perusing the children’s section of a local used bookstore, The Name Inspector came across a lovely book that’s basically about naming. He was as surprised as you are. The book, first published in 1958, is Ounce Dice Trice. It was written by Alastair Reid and beautifully illustrated by the artist Ben Shahn. Reid is [...]

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. [...]

As many of you know, The Name Inspector includes special phonetic representations along with his name analyses. He’s always considered these to be not only graphically interesting, but also useful as visualization tools. Even if you aren’t familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, on which these representation are based, you can still get an overall [...]

Microsoft recently unveiled Surface, a tabletop computer with an amazing multi-touch interface. There’s no keyboard or mouse–you interact with Surface through its display, which is touch-sensitive and can respond to simultaneous touches from multiple fingers or people. That means you can “grab” objects and move them around, re-size photos by stretching them out with your [...]

The name Twitter is not itself a pun, but it’s a set-up for a pun. It pretends to be a simple metaphorical name that casts the textual cacophony of its special kind of web exhibitionism as bird noise. But then there’s the connection to the expression all atwitter, used to describe someone filled with emotional [...]

A while ago Allegra Searle-LeBel sent in a story about naming her online media-editing startup: We had been struggling for about 2 months, trying to find the right name. There was this funny, almost mystical sense that it existed *somewhere*. We just needed to keep slogging through the troughs of lame options and almost good [...]

If you’ve bought an artsy-crafty item on the web lately, or if you read Fred Wilson’s blog A VC, then you’ve probably run into Etsy. Since launching in June 2005, this Brooklyn-based company has managed to build an extremely enthusiastic fan base and become the eBay of handmade goods. Etsy is all about community. There’s [...]

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