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Google Says “Ungoogleable” Can’t Be A Swedish Word

Ogooglebar. Is that a word? Well, it might have been.

Google Says “Ungoogleable” Can’t Be A Swedish Word

Ogooglebar. That’s Swedish, and means “something you can’t find without the use of a search engine.” At least, that’s what the Language Council of Sweden wanted Ogooglebar to mean–until Google stepped in, fearing that the word had negative connotations for the firm. And so the powers that be at Mountain View began to exert a little bit of pressure on the Swedish lingo bosses, says The Verge.

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The ensuing negotiations between the two parties were so fraught and nitpicky (the official line is “too much time and resources”) that the Language Council of Sweden decided to remove the phrase from its list of new words for 2012. Which, had this story not gained a bit of traction, would have meant that the word “ogooglebar” was, I expect, ungoogleable. But I guess it won’t be now.

Google is, let’s face it, a verb these days (and has been for over a decade–not bad for a firm that started as a university research project back in 1996) that means to look for something on a search engine. Even Bing employees probably use the G word when they’re talking about searching for something online. (Right?)

What do you think? Instead of niggling a body of Swedish grammarmeisters, should they be sticking to what they do best and innovating, or coming up with a replacement for, say, Google Reader? Or do they have a point, as brand protection is so important? How do you think they’d feel if the Language Council of Sweden decided to use the word “obingbar” to mean “something you can’t find in a search engine”? Our comments box is at your disposal. Tack!

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.

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