If Tate’s offline today I’ll write a post. I’d like to find out where other namers stand on the burning issue of the day…which is, what exactly is a vessel and when is it empty?
Tate and I have had a running disagreement about the nature of Apple Computer’s name in the context of naming typology. It has been Tate’s oft-repeated position that APPLE is an empty-vessel name. He bases this on statements made many years ago that Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs chose the name Apple based solely on his admiration for the Beatles and their Apple record label. Since neither the word itself nor Jobs’ reasoning connects with computers in any way, it’s an empty vessel. (Tate, when you are able to resume posting you may feel free to say so if I have misrepresented your position in any way. Tee hee hee, it’s kinda fun to say this knowing that you’re under your self-imposed cone of silence today!)
My position is that Apple is a real word with real and widely understood associations such as apple pie. I will note in passing that Neil Taylor, in “The Name Of The Beast”, lists Apple as a real-word name and categorizes it as primarily evocative in impact.
So even before reading Taylor I was in agreement with him that the word Apple has such a familiar, household-word impact that it cannot be classified as an empty vessel regardless of the intentions of the company management that chose it. In fact, if they truly meant to choose an empty vessel they blew it.
It seems quite possible to me that “Apple”s impact as a kitchen word materially affected the success of Apple’s campaign to position their computers as more user-friendly than everybody else’s. Had they called it “Lennon” or “LoveMeDo” or “Cavern” the vessel might have indeed been empty.
But regardless of the state of Steve Jobs’ unconscious, the word Apple carries meanings which are pretty much universal to an American audience, which to some degree evoke some of what Apple Computers explicitly wanted to commuicate. So I say: a vessel perhaps, but not empty.
What say y’all?