When we launched Alma in 2005, we were asked, "Why Alma? What does it mean?" The easy answer was "Alma means 'soul' in Spanish. Alma is a 'publisher with a soul', as opposed to the anonymous, soulless world of conglomerate publishing. The real answer was much more complex. I first thought of Alma during a trip abroad, and I thought of Alma as in "Alma Venus", "life-giving, nourishing Venus" – the only moment in my adult life when my knowledge of Lucretius came in handy.
But the Latin word "alma" had a much bigger impact on me through the language of Petrarch, Tasso and Leopardi, who calls Italy "alma terra natia" – "alma mater". "Almus" in poetical Italian also means "noble", "high-spirited" ("l'alme leggi de l'umano consorzio"), and this perhaps is the main inspiration for my choice. Then of course it also means, the same way it does in Spanish, "soul" – Dante says: "ch'alma beata non poria mentire." But that was at the back of my mind.
Certainly it was a surprise to discover that "alma" in Turkish means "don't buy". Our rep for that region complained, and said we should change our name – or at least localize it. Well, I am open to suggestions, and if you know of any Turkish words that fit the bill, please let me know.