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'Ungoogleable' added to Swedish encyclopaedia

The Local · 27 Mar 2013, 17:59

Published: 27 Mar 2013 17:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Mar 2013 17:59 GMT+01:00

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The term will be explained as "a word or phrase that cannot be found on the internet using a search engine".

Their definition will, however, add a detail about which Google and the Language Council (Språkrådet) originally locked horns, by stating "usually in reference to Google, but in common use also in reference to similar online services".

On Tuesday it emerged that the US search engine giant had contacted the council, which each year publishes a highly anticipated list of new words used by Swedes. Google wanted "ungoogleable" to be defined as only referring to Google, not to search engines in general.

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

In the end, the council removed the entry entirely but said it objected to a corporation seeking to influence how Swedes used their mother tongue.

The news caused outrage on social media, with words such as "pitiful" and "pea-brained" bandied about in tweets and comments fields. By the end of the day, the war of words had even reached the ears of the lauded Swedish Academy.

Known on the international stage for awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature every year, the institution's head, Peter Englund, warned Google that it had the clout to fight back.

He said it was conceivable that "ungoogleable" would be added to the Swedish academy dictionary SAOL (Svenska akademiens ordlista) as it reflected how Swedes spoke.

"Then let Google roll out its cannons, because we have cannons too," Englund told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: Top ten new Swedish words of 2012

Swedish marketing experts, meanwhile, were divided over what Google was thinking to get embroiled in debating what on the surface looked like a neologism that simply confirmed its standing as one of the world's favourite search engines.

"On the surface, this flies in the face of their self-professed 'Don’t Be Evil' mantra, and it will damage their reputation in Sweden," PR strategist Viktor Bolin at the Volontaire ad agency told The Local.

Bolin said a ten-second Google search about trademark protection led him to the conclusion that it was standard legal practice to register a complaint in order to protect its patents.

Story continues below…

He added that the internet giant would do well to state this clearly, if his analysis was indeed correct.

On Wednesday, it was the National Encyclopaedia's turn to offer its tuppence worth. According to TT, it has not only added "ungoogleable" but also "googla" - the Swedish version of the verb "to google".

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Your comments about this article

13:38 March 28, 2013 by rfmann
"... register a complaint in order to protect its patents." That would presumably be "trademarks"?

Time for Google to bing "Streisand effect"...
14:54 March 28, 2013 by Hisingen
Well, if when you do the vacuum cleaning at home you can be 'Hoovering', perhaps if you haven't done it for a while your house would 'look un-Hoovered'. By the same token if you can't find something on Google - and it often happens - then it is unGoogleable. Seems logical anyway.

Of course, Google does not like the idea that it is infallible, despite the fact that it can be.
18:01 March 28, 2013 by invishnk

As per this article, I think Google only objected the USAGE of the word 'ungoogleable'.

"Google wanted "ungoogleable" to be defined as only referring to Google, not to search engines in general."

So it seems Google doesn't want that word to be used in general for any search engine. I think it is perfectly OK to have that view. Isn't it?
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