• Sweden's news in English

Sweden axes new word after Google intervenes

26 Mar 2013, 11:53

Published: 26 Mar 2013 10:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Mar 2013 11:53 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In December, the council unveiled its customary annual list of new Swedish words. Among the words that Swedes had begun using in 2012 was "ogooglebar" ('ungoogleable').

The California-based multinational soon got into a huff, asking the council to amend its definition. But the language experts refused to bow down to the demands, instead choosing a third option - removing the term altogether.

"Instead, we're removing the word today and stating our displeasure with Google's attempt to control the language," Language Council head Ann Cederberg said in a statement.

The word was to be used to describe something "that you can't find on the web with the use of a search engine", according to the Language Council.

SEE ALSO: Top ten new Swedish words of 2012

However, Google was less than thrilled that a word based on its name had been highlighted by Sweden's "official language cultivation body".

Google wanted the council to specify that the word's definition only covered searches performed using Google, and not searches involving other search engines.

SEE ALSO: Ten Swedish words you won’t find in English

The move marks the first time the Language Council has removed a word from its annual list, but the Swedish wordsmiths don't think the word's removal means it should be removed from the language itself.

"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!" Cederberg said.

According to Cederberg, the Language Council could have compromised with Google's requests, but decided to instead spark a debate.

Story continues below…

"It would go against our principles, and the principles of language. Google has forgotten one thing: language development doesn't care about brand protection."

The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:19 March 26, 2013 by inertia666
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:26 March 26, 2013 by hipersons1
I can see Google's point with this even though it seems ridiculous on the outset. It comes down to trademark/copyright law. It's the same reason why Xerox ran adverts in the 80s to encourage people to call it a 'photocopy' instead of a 'Xerox' even if it comes from a machine made by Xerox. When a trademarked name becomes a common word even for similar services/product not produced by the company that holds the particular trademark, it lessens the legal strength of that trademark.
09:52 March 26, 2013 by Opinionfool
Thank god that English has no equivalent of toadying language control freaks. We google information all the time. Presumably the only thing that is ungoogleable with Google (other search engines available) is any criticism of Google and their attempts to control language as they are trying to control the world web site.
10:03 March 26, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
In case you ever questioned the notion that corporations rule the world, when one dictates what a developed nation like Sweden can put in its own language, you know we are all screwed.
12:04 March 26, 2013 by comfreak
I think it's a bit much that Google thinks it's up to them to decide what is a word and what is not. I am pretty sure that they think "googleable" in contrast, is a word, right? So the antonym belongs in the dictionary just as much!

Google, try telling the Oxford English Dictionary to erase the word Google. If you get as much response as a gently raised middle finger, you should be lucky.
12:08 March 26, 2013 by johan rebel
They removed the word to state their displeasure?

Sounds more like a bunch of yellow cowards to me.
14:05 March 26, 2013 by sparc
@johan rebel: Actually I agree with the council that maybe removing was the best choice, all things considered.

A definition constraints the use to a certain set of bounds and allows one to say "You are using this the wrong way". Google could have started a whole issue, trying to indirectly alter the definition even if the council disagreed. For one, google translate is used by a huge amount of people as a dictionary; simply by setting source and target languages the same.

Removing the definition allows the word to exist and evolve naturally without control and definitive influence. No one can dictate its use if there is no formal definition. It means what the majority wants it to be.
15:50 March 26, 2013 by jporinchak
Speaking as a US trademark attorney, I think you Swedes are dilutional.
17:17 March 26, 2013 by Rishonim
Ann Cederberg; Who's your daddy?
20:42 March 26, 2013 by Opinionfool

Glad you suggest the OED. One of the earliest citation to Google as a verb is from ... wait for it ... be patient ... Larry Page! He did that on July 8 1998 in an egroups mailing. Why then if it's good enough for Page shouldn't the rest of the world use it too.
Today's headlines
Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available