Google vs. Sweden: The linguistic war over the word 'ogooglebar'

The lovely, bouncy word means "something unable to be found on a search engine." And Google doesn't like it

Sure hope he's not searching for "ungoogleable"
(Image credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

The Swedish Language Council is the semi-official authority on matters pertaining to Swedish language use. In addition to issuing recommendations on spelling and grammar, it puts out an annual list of new Swedish words. The list tends toward the playful, covering the same type of coinages that various organizations nominate for "word of the year" in the English speaking world (YOLO, hashtag, fiscal cliff). The Swedes' 2012 list included 40 new words, including "henifiera" — a word for the practice of replacing the gendered "he" and "she" pronouns in Swedish (han and hon) with the neutral "hen."

But more interestingly, for the first time ever, a word has been removed from the list. Today, Language Council director Ann Cederberg announced that they will be removing the word "ogooglebar" (ungoogleable) — thanks to pressure from Google, which objected to the council's definition of the word as "something unable to be found on a search engine." Rather than give in to the company's demands to change the definition to refer to a Google search rather than any old web search, the council has decided to drop the word entirely.

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