From: Ron House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [tdf-discuss] [GENERAL] New name
Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010, 6:35 PM
On 02/10/10 23:41, Mirek M. wrote:
Well, "Open Office" was usually the spoken term used
to refer to
OpenOffice.org, and I'd say that's much easier to
LibreOffice. And it flows much more nicely.
"LibreOffice" is hard to pronounce the French way
because there are two
(written) vowels next to each other. That's one thing
the French language
tries to avoid, by having special forms for the few
adjectives that come
before nouns that start with a vowel, like "bel",
"vieil", and "nouvel". So
LibreOffice doesn't really fit in with French
But you don't need professionals to know if a name
sounds good. I'd say
"Firefox" and "Inkscape" are great names, but I'm sure
those projects didn't
spend millions of dollars on coming up with a name.
And just look at how the
name "Google" came about: it was made up by a daughter
of a mathematician.
I liked it, too, at first, but I'm afraid that
pronunciation will be an
Anyway, if nobody else thinks it's an issue, then it
Hmm, I joined the list to find out about compiling the
source, but this discussion took my interest. Apologies for
butting in late.
Names are a hard thing, but one lesson I have learned in 30
years of software development is: for widespread acceptance
a good name matters much more than good content. (Sad but
Examples: "Object-oriented programming" : All the ideas
were there in Simula 67 (yes, that's 1967), but until the
cool name, OOP, was invented, no one took any notice. Then
"Extreme programming", "Open Office", "relational database"
(just a cool name for the bad idea of busting up all the
objects and losing the natural hierarchies). I could think
of dozens if I spent another ten minutes at it.
Another key lesson: Insiders are very, VERY bad at picking
good names for their own 'children'.
This is not meant as an insult, but the key movers and
shakers here, to whom we all owe the very existence of this
wonderful project, are most likely the least able to judge a
And "LibreOffice" is a very poor name.
1/ "Libre" is an insider's term. Ask any but a romance
language speaker or a free software supporter what it means.
Seriously, ask your mum, your boss, your students, the guy
serving at the local deli. The name is doomed to
misunderstanding and obscurity. Geeks will give you lots of
good feedback and you'll judge you got it right, but you
haven't, and you need to actually try the little experiment
I just gave if you want to see why.
2/ As Mirek explains, the pronunciation breaks the rules,
and showing disrespect for the rules of the linguistic
source of a term doesn't seem like a sensitive or a
politically wise thing to do.
3/ Also as Mirek points out, the adjacent vowels make the
word hard to roll off the tongue by a speaker of any
language. (It occurs to me as I write this that (2) and (3)
could be fixed by calling it "OfficeLibre".)
Thus my only disagreement with Mirek's comments: "If nobody
else thinks it's an issue..." - the people here (again, with
apologies) are all self-selected for their in-depth
knowledge of the field, love of the software, love of the
ideals, and understanding of the jargon. All of us (myself
included) are almost certain to have a useless opinion on
what would actually be a good name.
So, this is just a recommendation, but one which I know is
worth doubling the support base: Get a better name. Even
something pedestrian like "Free Office" would do much
better. And of course, if someone could conjure up that rare
animal, the magic name, well who knows...?
And PS: Don't worry about having already announced the
name: it was stated it was temporary and it's a name
destined for forgetability in any case.
-- Ron Hous
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