You Say Rusticky, I Say Rustuchi

Nobody knows how to pronounce Rustici, it’s just a fact of life. Since birth I’ve pretty much just answered to anything that starts with an R. We hear just about every pronunciation you can conjure up, Rust-icky, Rust-uchi, Rust-ecee, Ruustichy, Rustic…one client took the cake when he (in all seriousness) referred to us as “Ravioli Software”. Now I like delightful little pasta treats filled with meat and cheese just as much any other half-blooded Italian, but come on, “Ravioli Software”, did you even try to sound out the letters?

I’ve always known that Rustici Software isn’t the ideal company name…it was just the first thing I thought of at the town hall when I registered my little freelance software development business six years ago. Who knew then that Rustici Software would be bigger than Mike Rustici?

We toyed around with changing the name a couple times. Once we were on the cusp of becoming Learned Systems…that’s “learn-ed” as in “Possessing or demonstrating profound, often systematic knowledge”, not “learned” as in “I learned how to play pinochle last week”. Not too much better on the pronunciation front, as you can see, marketing isn’t our strong suit.

I never realized just how bad the problem is until a few weeks ago when a client emailed my partner Tim asking how to pronounce Rustici. Tim responded with a phonetic pronunciation:

“RUST – iss – ee, where it sounds like a waltz, I guess. The last two syllables are both quiet and of even volume.”

That didn’t sound quite right to me, so I responded with:

“Great, my partner can’t even spell it out phonetically! I would have written it out as Rust – a – see, but just start it with an R and we’re happy.”

A great debate ensued. How do you spell Rustici phonetically? Fortunately, this was right before a great gathering of Rusticis, Christmas at Grandma’s! Twenty-five Rusticis born and bred, surely we can decide how to pronounce our name.

Nope, wrong. The family’s phonetic pronunciations were all similar to Tim and I’s original postulation, but nobody could come to consensus. Lots of discussion, no decisions. All the while, I kept an eye on my Grandmother, the retired English teacher turned author, surely she would know, but she kept quiet as if in silent reflection. Finally, as the debate subsided, Grandma spoke up with the definitive answer, “It’s really simple, you see, Rustici rhymes with Ecstasy”. I was never one for cheesy pick up lines, but I kind of wish I had that one in my back pocket during my dating years!

So, to pronounce Rustici, it starts with “Rust” and rhymes with “ecstasy”. Hard to pronounce, but certainly memorable, it looks like Rustici Software is here to stay. A marketer would probably tell us we’re crazy, but as a bi-lingual Italian job applicant once told us:

“In Italian it (Rustici) means ‘rustic’, literally, and as a company name it gives me the idea of solid, hand-crafted quality”

And, THAT is what we’re all about.


  • J Haag

    That was your best blog post yet. Had me ROTFLMAO! Anyway, you need to make this thing RSS compliant so I can syndicate it on C2S. Word to ya motha (er… granmotha!)

  • Brian White

    Mike,
    Quite the entertaining blog! We met about a year ago in your offices and once you told me your name, I haven’t forgotten it yet. In fact, as I’ve told other folks about your company and the great work you guys do, I pronounced the name correctly, but everyone always asks, “How do you spell that?” My answer is always the same… scorm.com!!

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  • Christine Rustici

    I just stumbled on your website and I loved your explaination of how to pronounce the family name. I was married to Michael Joseph Rustici, son of E. Joseph Rustici for 17 years. Mike was born in Westerly, RI. Are you a member of that family?

  • Hi Christine,

    Small world. I was also born in Westerly, but we’re not related to that crew (as far as I can tell).

    Mike

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  • Mike Smith

    rust-EE-chee. The Italian pronunciation!

    If you were to say Rust- EE- key, it would be spelled Rustichi.

    RUST-a-see is just plain Americanized 🙂

    Of course, how you choose to pronounce your name is your business.