Nominum Corporatum

Latin - the language, not the region, the Quarter, or the lover - has been declared a dead tongue so many times that Mark Twain might feel out-exaggerated.

But for the world's corporations it's alive and selling. Or at least its sounds and aura are.

Where do firms turn when they need a new name? To Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes. And, in the current round of merger mania, they're hitting the old Latin dictionaries often, to find classy-sounding syllables.

Item: "Ciena agreed to buy telecom equipment makers, Lightera and Omnia."

Item: Global food and beverage huckster Diageo emerged from two unrelated names. When Sandoz and Ciba merged, maiden names disappeared into a brand new Novartis.

You don't have to merge to play the ego amo Latin game. NASDAQ stock listings in the US are heavy with computer and biotech firms with a vaguely Latinate ring. Take just one dense patch involving a single letter, V. Therein lie: Vivus, Vivid Technology, Viatel, Vital Communications, Visio, Viasoft, Vertel, Verity, Verio, Verdant, Variflex,Viragen, Vista Bancorp, Volvo, Vistana, Voxware, Valmont, and Visx.

After a while every company begins to sound pseudo-Latinate. Even old standbys like Japan's Sony and Omron, Spain's acronymic ENDESA, Brit-Dutch Unilever, Korea's Dacom, Taiwan's Acer, and the world's oldest corporation, Sweden's Stora. Et al.

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