I’m always bemused by corporate America’s faith in Latin roots–as if these meanings are burned into customers’ DNA and, if people just thought about it (which they don’t), they’d get what their brand name means.

Microsoft is just the latest to fall into this trap. They recently completed a renaming project around their healthcare information technology. Originally purchased in 2006 as “Azyxxi”, the product is now called “Amalga.”

Microsoft health unit general manager Steve Shihadeh said in a statement. “Microsoft’s Amalga products offer proven solutions that bring together information from across the health care enterprise into one, easily accessible view. In fact, the name ‘Amalga’ is based on the Latin word ‘amalgama,’ meaning to bring together different elements.”

On the other hand, if people do have a vague understanding of Latin roots, how many see “mal” in the middle and associate it with “bad” or “sick?”

Live by the sword, die by the sword, people. Why not create a brand name using words from a living language actually spoken by your customers?

This is a disappointing development, given the promising mini-trend of better brand names from Microsoft: Silverlight and Popfly.