Google doesn’t want Swedes to use the word ‘ungoogleable’ for all search engines

26 Mar 2013

The Swedish Language Council has been asked by Google to remove the word ‘ogooglebar’ (meaning ‘ungoogleable’) from its list of 40 new words commonly used by Swedes in 2012.

The list is published annually by the council and represents Sweden’s zeitgeist as much as its language, recognising the most popular terms coined by Swedish people in the passing year.

As well as ‘ogooglebar’, the 2012 list includes tech-based terms such as ‘livslogga’ or ‘life log’ to continually document one’s life in pictures and ‘köttrymd’ or ‘flesh space’ to mean the world we actually live in as opposed to that which we once called cyberspace. An adaptation of the English ‘no mobile phone phobia’ also made it on to the list as ‘nomofob’ (or ‘nomophobe’).

Other topical additions include the English word ‘brony’, which refers to members of My Little Pony’s growing male fan base, and ‘Zlataner’, a verb formed from celebrated Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s name which means to dominate or be the best at something.

Language will not be defined by Google

‘Ogooglebar’ has been defined as someone or something that you can’t find on the web with the use of a search engine. The tech giant appears to have taken offence in its name being used to cover all search engines and asked that the definition be amended to refer to Google searches only.

The Swedish Language Council weren’t happy to comply, though, and have instead stricken the offending word from its annual list – the first time it has done so.

However, the council head Ann Cederberg realises that this will not stop the use and spread of the word. “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,” she said in a statement to The Local, insisting that the definition would not be changed. “It would go against our principles, and the principles of language. Google has forgotten one thing: language development doesn’t care about brand protection.”

Google search image by Annette Shaff via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.