Nanny Knows Best

Nanny Knows Best
Dedicated to exposing, and resisting, the all pervasive nanny state that is corroding the way of life and the freedom of the people of Britain.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nanny Bans Ungoogleable

As loyal readers know, Nanny is fond of banning certain words and phrases lest they cause offence (eg because in her view they are non pc).

However, sometimes Nanny is not always looking at a word or phrase from the "pc" perspective, but sometimes Nanny looks at it from the "corporate perspective".

Step forward Google (the epitome of free speech) which had a bone to pick with the good people from the Language Council of Sweden

Every year the Language Council publishes its top 10 new words that have entered the Swedish language, with the objective of showing how language and culture develops and changes (the reverse of what the French language police do;)).

Anyhoo last December one of the words that appeared in the list was "ungoogleable" (ogooglebar in Swedish), defined by the Council as "something that cannot be found with any search engine".

Sadly for the Swedes Google was not best pleased, it raised an objection.

For why?

Trademark issues.

Google wanted the meaning to relate only to Google searches. It called for changes to the Language Council of Sweden's definition and asked for a 'disclaimer' stressing that Google is a trademark.

All very well, but the word is used by Swedes to mean something that cannot be found with ANY search engine; ie in order to comply with Google's diktat the Swedes would have had to alter the meaning (much like the language censors in Orwell's 1984 did).

Therefore, in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle and in order to maintain their integrity the Swedes removed it from the list, but did so publicly.

A statement on the Language Council of Sweden's website, as per the BBC:
"Who decides language? We do, language users. We decide together which words should be and how they are defined, used and spelled."
In response, a Google spokesperson told the BBC:
"While Google, like many businesses, takes routine steps to protect our trademark, we are pleased that users connect the Google name with great search results.
Wasn't it Google that also once said "don't be evil"?

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  1. They should have changed it to 'Unyahooable'. That would have stuck it to 'em.

  2. 'Google'(TM) should publish a list of all forbidden 'search terms' so that one can quickly & easily see (search for) what you cannot ask?
    OR - have asked that the (Swedish) dictionary be amended to read -
    "Ungoogleable" (adj) - Word or Character-string that may be found by other search engines, but not the one you thought of first.

  3. I have just used the [Search] facility:

    "ungoogleable" yielded 'About 179,000 results' - and provided a neat logical paradox.

    1. ogooglebar = 773,000 results on Google

  4. Perhaps a bright spark at Google remembered the Hoover brand and hoovering in all its context. When Hoover Inc challenged the use of its trade name they were told it's common parlance now, a verb meaning to vacuum, so sod off, Hoover (what about J Edgar or that big dam?). Anyway, I expect it was this or hubris. I couldn't possibly guess which.

  5. If Google have am issue with legality, perhaps they can explain what royalties they are paying the (once) little son of a mathematician who originally came up with the word?

  6. Google are in the right here. They have to question any use of their trademark in order to keep it. They cannot drop their guard or set a precedent because others will use and erode the trademark.

    All Google wanted was that ungoogleable should not be used generically but just for Google. The dictionary was free to choose another word for the generic term.

  7. Anonymous1:38 PM

    Ungoogleable is already in common use. So they've lost that one. They out to be pleased, because surely the opposite would be 'googleable' which is free advertising. I doubt that the existence of the word 'hoovering' has really done Hoover any harm.

    However, such disputes do make a lot of lawyers rich.

  8. Anonymous4:34 PM

    does this mean that 'hooverin' the house instead of vacuumin will be illegal too soon??FFS