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