Sweden rows with Google over term ‘ungoogleable’

Sweden embroiled in dispute with Google over term 'ungoogleable'


The Swedish Language Council unveil its annual list of new Swedish words in December. Among them was a term Swedes began using in 2012 – “ogooglebar” – or “ungoogleable”. The list is compiled of words that are not in the Swedish dictionary but have entered common parlance.

“Ogooglebar” is defined by the council as something “that cannot be found on the Web with a search engine”.

Google however objected to the term, asking for changes showing that the expression specifically refers to Google searches as well as a disclaimer saying Google is a registered trademark, according to the council.

Rather than change the definition, the council simply deleted the word from the list – the first time it has ever done so – while stressing “our displeasure with Google’s attempts to control the language.”

“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!”, said Ann Cederberg, head of the council.

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

A spokesman for Google said: “While Google, like many businesses, takes routine steps to protect our trademark, we are pleased that users connect the Google name with great search results.”

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