The name game

Erin McKean editor at VERBATIMMAG.COM
Fri Dec 3 04:47:24 UTC 1999

This Salon article was really good.

I've done some focus-group type work for a corporate naming firm in Chicago
and I was appalled by how little the people directing the work knew about
morphology, semantics, etc. One of the coordinators was surprised to learn
that there was an academic discipline that dealt with the study of language
at all.

I gave up going when they recruited a woman who brought one of those *huge*
$6.99 Kmart thesauruses to every session. When given the concept we were
supposed to brainstorm, she would look it up in her book. She had a minimal
vocabulary (to put it politely) and would just read out words from the list
at random, regardless of their connotation. She suggested "Noblesse Oblige"
for a mattress name once. (I forget what the concept was.) I immediately
suggested perhaps "Droit De Seigneur" would be more appropriate but was met
by blank stares. Just as well. . .

Erin McKean
editor at

>M_Lynne_Murphy at thought you would be interested in this article at
> (
>Your friend's message:
>For a while I was thinking it would be fun to be a corporate namer.  Now
>that I've read this article, I can't say that I think much of the
>profession.  But, hey, it sure pays better than academia!
>- - - - - - - - - - - -
>The name game
>By Ruth Shalit
>Nov.  30, 1999
>Welcome to the vicious world of corporate name-creation, where millions of
>dollars are spent and competing shops slur each other over the wonders of
>Agilent, Lucent and Avilant.
>- - - - - - - - - - - -

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