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Google and Ogooglebar: Who owns the meaning of words?

29/03/2013 14:42

Until this week, you could have said ogooglebar, a term sanctioned by no less than the Language Council of Sweden, and roughly equivalent to the English speaker’s mouthful “ungooglable.”
Unfortunately for search-challenged Scandinavians, Google didn’t like the idea of its name being part of a general term for online search, and suggested amending the definition to describe only searches performed via Google. The Language Council – which is dedicated to documenting the emergence of new words in Swedish – didn’t think much of this, or fancy a lengthy legal process. So the word was removed from the official list of new Swedish terms.
Whether absence from this list will make much difference to Swedish speaking habits remains to be seen, although it seems unlikely. As the Council put it in an online statement on 26th March – at least so far as I can tell, courtesy of none other than Google’s translation service – “Google has namely forgot one thing: language development do not care about brand protection. No individual can decide about the language.” The grammar may be iffy, but the point is clear. Courtesy of the internet, the furore around ogooglebar is likely only to spread its usage.
There are larger concerns at stake here, however. I’ve spent much of the last year writing a book about language and technology, and the rise of “ungooglable” and its international equivalents marks one of the most characteristic linguistic evolutions of our age: binary vocabulary.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130328-who-owns-the-meaning-of-words/1

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