Cuil runnings

Cuil, Cuil ffs? Repress a shudder at the name. It’s a (relatively) new search engine. It’s good, although it’s had a bit of a critical drubbing. It’s much prettier than google. Its results make a lot of sense. It’s not stuffed with sponsored links or spam links or dominated by top-ten-authority corporate results. So I think I like it, although I’ve only used it on test basis.

I also really like Ubuntu. Of course, any Linux version is admirable. and Ubuntu is more admirable than most.

I am just going to have a pointless rant about the branding – calling things ethnic-sounding names to make perfectly good and worthy things sound just that bit more credible.

The wikipedia entry doesn’t do much to disspell any impulse to sneer at the Cuil name:

The Irish ancestry of Anna Patterson’s husband Tom Costello sparked the name Cuil, which the company states is taken from a series of Celtic folklore stories involving a character called Finn McCuill. The company says that Cuil is Irish for knowledge and hazel.

That’s “Irish ancestry” in the sense of “American Irish”, then? (One Irish great-great grandparent and an Irish surname qualify any American as Irish. Although I remain to be convinced that Costello really counts, here….)

Wikipedia does some serious undercutting of the legitimacy of the Irish ethnic explanation for the brandname, from a standpoint of linguistics. Which feeds my instinctive prejudice against the word, the spelling and its supposed “cool” pronunciation.

I used to get riled every time I saw claims that Ubuntu was the “African word for” something, as if Africa didn’t have more languages than any other continent in the world.

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world. (from

I have to turn my pedantry against myself. That said “An African word for” not “The African word for”. Maybe I have been misjudged Unbuntu. I do a cuil search for “ubuntu is african for.” The first page is whole string of official ubuntu links, none of which say it is the African word for anything. In fact, many of the definitions that turn up are reasonably precise, a Zulu word and a South African philosophy.

My bad. I must have imagined the “African word for” phrase, misremembering the blurb from the old distro I have somewhere.

But google and cuil do both unveil an apparent subgenre of geek humour based on the misremembered “Ubuntu is African for”

Ubuntu is African for ‘Can’t configure Debian’. (typical link: Ubuntu forum post)

Indeed. ubuntu is african for ” I CANT CONFIGURE SLACKWARE”
(typical link: Another forum)

ubuntu is African for “time sucker”, right? (link: I-phone blog forum)

Ubuntu is African for “struggles to install mouses”. (from information rain)

Most off-the-wall is
Ubuntu is African for sharks with freaking laser beams on its head. (from animetro)

Am I beginning to see a pattern, here? I’ll have to try it.

Cuil is Irish for “excuse to use a disgustingly lame pun in a blog title”


2 thoughts on “Cuil runnings

  1. I can’t help thinking that a name like Cuil makes Tom Costello look like an arse, if you’ll pardon my French. 🙂

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