Sweden Axes the Word ‘Ungoogleable’ After Google Intervenes

    March 26, 2013
    Josh Wolford
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Google has successfully pressured the Swedish Language Council to remove a new word because it risks turning “google” into a generic term.

It’s a testament to Google’s dominance that most people simply say “google it” when they really mean “search it.” Because of this market domination, it’s completely understandable that a word like “ogooglebar” would emerge in the Swedish language. “Ogooglebar” translates to “ungoogleable,” as in “that was so obscure that it was ungoogleable, man.”

The word, which was added to the list of new Swedish words back in December, has officially been removed.

Google exerted pressure, asking the council to amend the definition to mean searches unable to be unearthed by Google only, not just any search engine. But instead of amending the definition, which the council said would go against their values, they decided to ax it altogether.

But just from the official list. It’s not like Swedes will stop using the word “ogooglebar.”

“If we want to have ogooglebar in the language, then we’ll use the word and it’s our use that gives it meaning – not a multinational company exerting pressure. Speech must be free!” said Swedish Language Council head Ann Cederberg.

Of course, the problem for Google is that the term “Google” is constantly toeing the dangerous line of falling into generic territory. Sure, it’s nice to be such a dominant force in your area of expertise that your company’s name becomes synonymous with the product itself.

Think Kleenex, Band-Aid, or Xerox? Those are actually trademarked names that people have gradually turned into the common name for the products they represent – tissue, bandages, and copy machines, respectively.

But it’s not so nice when your trademarks are in jeopardy of being declared generic – which is what can technically happen in situations like this. And it’s not like Google hasn’t had to deal with this before.

“It would go against our principles, and the principles of language. Google has forgotten one thing: language development doesn’t care about brand protection,” said Cederberg.

[The Local via The Verge]

  • http://www.msinteractive.com Moonstone Interactive

    I understand -to some degree- where Google is coming from, but at the same time; I completely agree with the Swedish Language Council… they’ll still use the word, as many of Americans do too. There are many words we use on a regular basis that have meanings that aren’t their definitions. My one understanding with Google’s response is that sure Kleenex, Band-Aid, etc are great for market dominance just like “Google it”, but it kind of puts a damper on their expertise when we change to the negative response “ungoogleable”. Nonetheless, Google can’t pressure the entire world to not use their name in another fashion. What can they do, monitor the web and send letters to every individual that uses their name in any way other than what they’d prefer? I doubt it! 😉