Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The Windows Live folks (more specifically, the lab portions thereof) are proto-releasing a tool that is described as "a search visualization site that brings a new user experience to researching -- "searching and storing results." Name: Tafiti. Per the site, the name "means 'do research' in Swahili."

Oh. I always find it a little lame when people have to explain where a brand(-ish) name comes from. For one thing, it means that the name itself isn't doing its fair share of denoting or connoting what it's supposed to represent.

So whence Tafiti? A kind-of homonym is Tahiti, a far-away exotic locale whose image would not seem (unless I'm missing something) to be suggestive of what's going on here. Another sound-alike is graffiti, which seems a little closer -- the search feature lets you save and amend search results for your research. So, evocative of scribble, perhaps.

Perhaps. Thots? Why would you turn to Swahili for branding? Not that it isn't a fine and useful language, but it's not widely known in the English-speaking world.


Pat J said...

Why would you turn to Swahili for branding?

I'd suggest that it's for the same reason that "wiki" was born from Hawaiian "wiki wiki" (I think). "Tafiti" doesn't roll off the ol' tongue quite the same way as "wiki", though, so it may not be a winner.

Anna said...

Tafiti makes me think of Taffy. Not something that invokes research.. more like being at the boardwalk eating candy. But I imagine they're hoping to create a sort of affix like wiki, but -iti. But how would it work? "I'm doing some iti on dressmaking"? "I'm gonna go dressmakingiti"? it's so not natural. I don't know what they were thinking.

Lio said...

For Czech or Croatian or Slovene speakers it sounds funny, because -iti can be understood as one of verb suffixes (suffices?). It is interesting when naming their web projects people get inspiration from all languages but the Slavonic ones. Tafiti is at least potentially Slavonic :-).