Social media reactions to news that Google had put pressure on the Swedish Language Council to edit the definition of a new word were vitriolic on Tuesday.
Many invoked terms such as petty, pea-brained, and power-crazed when it became known that Google objected to neologism “ogooglebar” (“ungoogleable”) because the council defined it as a “term not found using internet search engines”, rather than specifically referencing Google.
The council said the discussions with Google had taken up too many of its resources and instead removed the word entirely, hoping to foster debate about a corporation seeking to influence how Swedes use their own language.
Now the lauded Swedish Academy, which gives out national dictionary Saol (Svenska akademiens ordlista), has entered the fray by saying Google might have caused more trouble than it had bargained for.
“Now the word has really spread, doesn’t Google understand that it has shot itself in the foot?” said permanent secretary Peter Englund, speaking to the TT news agency.
He added it was possible the academy would add the word to its dictionary.
“If we think there is evidence that the word has become a part of the Swedish language, then yes, as the dictionary describes Swedish,” Englund said.
“Then let Google roll out its cannons, because we have cannons too.”