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January 06, 2010


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The name also evokes one of the best novelty songs Broadway ever produced, Comden and Green's jealousy rant "If You Hadn't But You Did", where it serves as one of a dozen or so imaginative rhymes for the hard-to-rhyme word "if":

If/I had not seen you take/Geraldine on the lake/In your flat-bottomed skiff...

I hope Hearst's Skiff has a flat bottom.

Walter: One of my favorite novelty songs ever. Thanks for the reminder.

I thought "Nook" was a great name for an e-book reader. Kindle, not so much, as I'm not convinced flames and books go together, even in the e-version.

Skiff has a pleasant sound to the ears, with cognates skim and skip. It sounds right for a bendable reader.

Weighing in from the trademark perspective, I think Skiff is excellent. For most of the consuming public, it conveys nothing and is thus an arbitrary mark entitled to great protection (e.g., APPLE for computers, CAMEL for cigarettes). And for literati like you, Nancy, and Walter above - those suggestive references only serves to amplify the mark's distinctiveness. My only gripe would be that Skiff e-Reader, when pronounced quickly, sounds like "Skiffy Reader." Not as bad as "Nooky book," though, by any stretch of the imagination!

Thanks for your perspectives, Vlb and Jessica! I'm flattered, Jessica, that you consider me one of the literati; in fact I'm just an unabashed fan of musical theater.

I wonder whether the writer who sniffed at Skiff was thinking of terms like skunk and skank, and generalizing a negative connotation to an initial sk- . I bet if you tried to pin him down, he wouldn't have a very concrete reason for his claim that the name is ugly.

Trivium for you: sk- as a sound existed in proto-Anglo Saxon, but was shifted to the sound we now have as "sh". Since that time, however, we have borrowed many sk- words (often from other Germanic langauges). This has led to some interesting etymologically identical but denotatively distinct terms like shirt/skirt, ship (scip in Old English)/skiff.

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