Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/04/cuil_means_rear/
Cuil feasts on Salmon of Nonsense
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Why is Cuil called Cuil? According to the free-spending founders of this Google-battling search engine/web-wide laughing stock, cuil is an "old Irish word for knowledge." But as it turns out, this is yet another example of CEO Tom Costello and company littering the web with bogus information.
In truth, cuil is an old Irish word for "rear" or "backside." As one Reg reader points out, this lends new meaning to our claim that Cuil is pants.
The startup's crack team of PR specialists floated their Cuil-means-knowledge nonsense in the widely-read press release announcing the new search engine - which is still pronounced "cool" - and most of the world believed them. But as a simple, ahem, Google search reveals, the Gaelic word for knowledge is actually "fios" - which is already taken by Verizon's high-speed fiber optic network.
Tom Costello and his army of ex-Googlers have their minds on an old Irish legend involving a young man named Finn MacCuil, but time and again, the company web site fails to realize that half a surname is not a word. Here is their addled explanation:
Cuil is the Gaelic word for both knowledge and hazel, and features prominently in ancient legend. One famous story tells of a salmon that ate nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Fountain of Wisdom and thereby gained all the knowledge in the world. Whoever ate the salmon would acquire this knowledge.
A famous poet fished for many years on the River Boyne hoping to catch the Salmon of Knowledge. When he finally caught it, he gave it to his young apprentice Finn McCuil to prepare, warning him not to eat any. As Finn cooked the salmon he burnt his thumb and instinctively sucked it to ease the pain. And so it was Finn and not the poet who gained all the wisdom of the world. Finn went on to become one of the great heroes of Irish folklore. Any time he needed to know the answer to a question, he sucked his thumb.
As a child Tom poached salmon from the same spot on the Boyne where it is said the Salmon of Knowledge was caught.
Joseph Nagy, a professor of Celtic Languages at UCLA, points out that Costello is thinking of another word entirely. "The word for hazel (whose nut does have associations with supernatural wisdom in medieval Irish tradition) is 'coll,' plural 'cuill,'" Nagy tells us. "The latter is what Mr. Costello or his spokesperson is talking about, but in standardized Irish spelling, 'cuil' is different from 'cuill.'"
Obviously, while fishing the Boyne, Tom caught salmon of an altogether separate variety. Of course, linguistic ineptitude doesn't always translate to search engine ineptitude. But in this case it does. ®
For all you Reg-reading pedants out there - and we know you are myriad - the Gaelic word for backside includes an acute accent, and that means it is indeed pronounced like "cool." Of course, Costello and Co. have dropped the accent, so you could argue they're mispronouncing the name of their own search engine. But they look silly enough already.