A lot of people, well, at least, a few asked about our product names. So, here’s the story.
When we did our digital metering app, we focussed on Bangalore. So, naming the app in Kannada felt right. But, Bangalore has large populations of speakers of other languages too. While scouting for options, I happened to read about ideophones, words that “sound like what they mean” or, as Wikipedia says “words used by speakers to evoke a vivid impression of certain sensation or sensory perceptions, e.g. smell, color, shape, sound, action, or movement.” It sounded like a neat idea to name the app with an ideophone. It’ll evoke the same impression in people speaking different languages, right?
Given that the bulk of the Bangalore population speaks some Dravidian language or other, the choice fell on Suruk, which connoted diligence, speed, sharpness etc. signifying what Suruk does. And, it helped that www.suruk.com was available. It was nice also because, between us, we spoke Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada (apart from English and Hindi). We picked Ideophone as the name of the company and thought that we’ll name each of our apps and services with an ideophone.
As for SOS app, it was difficult to call it anything other than SOS itself. We excused ourselves saying that, if Morse code was a language, SOS would be an ideophone in that language. So much of retrofitting.
Pika (Photo by Alastair Rae)
Then came our railway wakeup alarm service. We were looking at numerous ideophones and chanced upon Pika, a Belarusian and Himalayan rodent that alerts other animals with a characteristic sound ‘pika’ (audio). What a linguistically and ecologically fitting find! But, we realised that most people pronounce pika as peeka as well as that the rodent is everywhere in search results. So, we called it Pyka. Don’t know from where we’ll pick the name for our future products, but http://ideophone.org/ would be one place where we’ll look at.
I’m sure there would be several interesting stories behind naming products. If you know of any, please share it in the comments.
Update: Mark Dingemanse (http://www.mpi.nl/people/dingemanse-mark), a linguist from Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and expert on Ideophones, likes our naming and has written a blog post at http://ideophone.org/ideophones-around-the-web-ideophones-and-product-naming/. Thanks Mark.