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.
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.
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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.
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”.