Google in Swedish language smackdown

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Google in Swedish language smackdown

You might think that an official, government administered language body would be immune from corporate interference. It's a fair assumption, but, it seems, an incorrect one, especially if your linguistic evolution impinges on Google's trademark.

The Swedish Language Council, which regularly lists new words entering into the Swedish language (so, basically the opposite of what the Académie Française does with French), was in the process of adding the rather useful word ogooglebar, but - according to ITWorld - Google was not impressed.

The word translates to ungoogleable, meaning something that cannot be found in a web search. Google, however, upon learning of the soon to be existing word, contacted the Council and asked for the word's definition to be amended and include a trademark disclaimer.

The Council, no doubt thinking that was bit of an imposition on the national voice, instead to declined to add the word to the official lexicon.

Is this a case of Google overstating its mark? The common defense is that trademarks operate under a use-it-or-lose-it basis, so any instance of Google not enforcing its trademark could in the future be used as a defence by another party. But it's undeniably awkward to see a corporate body exerting any kind of control over the evolution of language itself.

Of course, the whole point of the Swedish Language Council is to officially codify words already coming into usage, so even without the word being officially listed, it will remain in use. In fact, it's kind of appropriate that ogooglebar is now, in some ways, ogooglebar itself.

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