Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:07 UTC
Google The Swedish Language Council wanted to list 'ungoogleable' as a new word. Google didn't like it. "The word was to be used to describe something 'that you can't find on the web with the use of a search engine', according to the Language Council. However, Google was less than thrilled that a word based on its name had been highlighted by Sweden's 'official language cultivation body'. Google wanted the council to specify that the word's definition only covered searches performed using Google, and not searches involving other search engines." Sadly, the Council decided to scrap the word altogether. Google, get your filthy paws off our languages. It seems like large corporations love to exert pressure on language - Apple tried something similar a few years ago with the abbreviation 'app', something which I exposed for the idiocy that it was. I will use whatever words I damn well please, and so should everyone else. The Swedish Language Council shouldn't even have acknowledged Google's ridiculous request with a response.
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Generic Trademark
by jpobst on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:18 UTC
jpobst
Member since:
2006-09-26

The issue isn't that Google wants to prevent an unflattering use of their trademark, it's that they want to prevent any form of their trademark from becoming a generic word.

In US Trademark Law (any many others), if your trademark (like aspirin, escalator, thermos, zipper, etc.) because a common noun or verb, you lose your rights to the trademark.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark

As mentioned in the article, Google has also fought against "to google" being a verb meaning "to search online", even though at first glance it seems like a huge win for them for their name to synonymous with online searching.

Reply Score: 10

RE: Generic Trademark
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:21 UTC in reply to "Generic Trademark"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Ungoogleable has both a suffix and affix, changing the word substantially from Google's trademark. On top of that, it is none of the Language Council's concern what Google wants to protect or not. Google is free to spout nonsense, but the Swedes shouldn't have caved in.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Generic Trademark
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Generic Trademark"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I disagree that its substantially different from Google's trademark, but that isn't even the real issue as far as I am concerned.

Language Council? *That* is the body telling everyone what words people can and cannot use. Languages should be defined by the speakers, which means that new words will arise and fall, grammar will change. Having a language defined by any other means is a Sisyphean task.

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: Generic Trademark
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Generic Trademark"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

No, a langauge council doesn't tell what we can use - they just keep track of stuff. Dutch has one too, and they act 'after the fact'; so, people make up new stuff or alter language in daily speech, and they keep track of it.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Generic Trademark
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Generic Trademark"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Then what does it matter what the language council decides?

Edit: I'm more familiar with the French equivalent which as far as I know, tries to define what French is rather than just documenting convention.

Edited 2013-03-26 17:59 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[5]: Generic Trademark
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 26th Mar 2013 18:01 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Generic Trademark"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Then what does it matter what the language council decides?


Because it acts as a record of the evolving nature of a language. A history book of language, if you will. You may not find that important, but someone like me, who earns his living with language and has studied it all his life, this is of great importance.

A corporation should not be able to dictate such a history book.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Generic Trademark
by OzzyLondon on Tue 26th Mar 2013 18:17 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Generic Trademark"
OzzyLondon Member since:
2011-11-18

I think they should be able to if it is, or is similar to, the very name they trade under.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Generic Trademark
by Savior on Wed 27th Mar 2013 09:32 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Generic Trademark"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

You mean 'Apple' or 'Windows', right?

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Generic Trademark
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 26th Mar 2013 19:41 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Generic Trademark"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, I'm not nearly into spoken languages as you are. I think what you're complaining about is the devaluing of the importance and relevance of the "official history" of the language. That kind of makes sense.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Generic Trademark
by vocivus on Tue 26th Mar 2013 19:55 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Generic Trademark"
vocivus Member since:
2010-03-13

If it does what Google tells it to, it doesn't act like a record, it claims to act like a record. The fault is the council's.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Generic Trademark
by TechGeek on Tue 26th Mar 2013 22:56 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Generic Trademark"
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

"Then what does it matter what the language council decides?


Because it acts as a record of the evolving nature of a language. A history book of language, if you will. You may not find that important, but someone like me, who earns his living with language and has studied it all his life, this is of great importance.

A corporation should not be able to dictate such a history book.
"

Thom, you said it yourself. The council made the decision, not Google. Google just voiced an objection. What Google actually wanted was for the meaning to be unsearchable on Google, which kind of makes sense. In the end, it was the council's choice to just drop the matter.

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Generic Trademark
by Carewolf on Wed 27th Mar 2013 18:34 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Generic Trademark"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

True, but one, he might be disappointed at Google making the objection, but more likely disappointed that the language council caved in.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Generic Trademark
by oskeladden on Wed 27th Mar 2013 01:26 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Generic Trademark"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

A corporation should not be able to dictate such a history book.


The point the Swedish Language Council made in their comment on this is that anyone searching for the word 'ogooglebar' will find the meaning Google doesn't like, as well as commentary about the controversy. That would seem to serve the purpose.

Here's a quick, rough and ready translation of the crucial three paragraphs of their statement:

We have neither the time nor the desire to pursue the drawn-out process Google is trying to start. Nor do we want to compromise and change the definition of 'ogooglebar' to the one the company wants. That would go against our principles, and the principles of the language. Google has forgotten one thing: a language's development does not care about trademark rights.

No single person makes decisions about language. Anyone who in future googles about 'ogooglebar' will find not just the formulation Google wanted to change, and which will remain online even though the Language Council has altered the list. Anyone who searches will also find the commentary that will follow once the news that the word has been removed spreads. That is how the world of the internet works.

Who makes decisions in relation to a language? Us, the users of the language. We, jointly, decide what words will exist and how they will be defined, used and written. A language is a result of an ongoing, democratic process. We all participate in deciding which words become part of our language by choosing the words we use. If we want 'ogooglebar' in our language, then we will use the word, and it is our usage that is decisive - not the coercion of a multinational company. Words are free!


The full statement (in Swedish) is here:
http://www.sprakradet.se/15922

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Generic Trademark
by Sauron on Wed 27th Mar 2013 07:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Generic Trademark"
Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

Lets hope that every Swedish citizen freely uses the word anyway and f**k Google.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Generic Trademark
by Laurence on Wed 27th Mar 2013 09:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Generic Trademark"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Let's be clear, the issue you have a problem with is trademark law.

Clearly, being a writer yourself, this is a topic close to your heart, but I think you're letting your corporate-paranoia and profession cloud your judgment here. That is, unless you honestly believe that governments have the right to abuse internationally recognised trademarks just for the sake of adding one arbitrary word to a list that nobody apart from writers take seriously?

If this had been a government stepping in and preventing a company from using a specific word as a trademark, then you'd be the first to complain about censorship, yet that's what this amounts to in the long run (thanks to the weird way how trademark law operates).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Generic Trademark
by oskeladden on Wed 27th Mar 2013 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Generic Trademark"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

That is, unless you honestly believe that governments have the right to abuse internationally recognised trademarks just for the sake of adding one arbitrary word to a list that nobody apart from writers take seriously?


But this isn't about governments. This is a committee of Swedish linguists, who're basically the Swedish equivalents of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary and Fowler's Modern English Usage rolled in one. The government has funded them since 1972 (because, unlike the OED, they don't have the support of a rich and solvent university), but even so all they do is record what usage is. They don't try to determine usage should be. Or, to put it differently, they're descriptive linguists, not normative linguists, and they're linguists, not bureaucrats or government apparatchiks. The Swedish government no longer tries to determine what Swedish should look like, thank G-d, and Språkrådet's nyordlistan isn't a list of neologisms they've coined or which the government has coined - it's a list of words that've come into common usage in the past year, or that've been particularly newsworthy in the past year.

So what has happened here is that some Swedes (mostly ordinary teens, incidentally, not writers) have started using 'ogooglebar' to mean something. Google's argument is, in essence, that Swedish dictionaries should be prevented from recording the actual use of words in the Swedish language. I find that very odd. Trademark law is not intended to prevent dictionaries from recording actual word usage, but that's the effect Google's action has had.

Reply Score: 3

OMG
by andrewclunn on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:31 UTC
andrewclunn
Member since:
2012-11-05

You mean 'unsearchable' is too difficult? Oh no, what will I ever do if words aren't consistently replaced with new synonyms that contain corporate logos and names instead. Aluminum foil? You mean Reynolds wrap, right? Or how about calling all soda's coke (which is done in certain regions)? And now a company wants to stop the conflation of their trademarked name with a language's official dictionary? Such vile evil infringements on our freedumbz!

Reply Score: 3

RE: OMG
by judgen on Wed 27th Mar 2013 07:43 UTC in reply to "OMG"
judgen Member since:
2006-07-12

Unsearchable in swedish = osökbar which means it it not defined to web searches but by definition impossible to search for at all. And not even the meaning of life is impossible to search for, it is just that many people find different answers.
Ogoogelbar/ogoolebar means it is impossible to find on google, and if that means bing as well in swedish means very little as bing and the others search engine marketshare over there for personal use is miniscule.

Reply Score: 3

Bad example
by progormre on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:39 UTC
progormre
Member since:
2012-05-20

It's not a good one because the Swedish Language Council invents silly new words on daily basis with no respect to the language at all. They are a bunch of left-wing liberals that deserves to be smacked down!
I'm glad google told them to stuff it.

Reply Score: 2

No harm done
by cheemosabe on Tue 26th Mar 2013 17:48 UTC
cheemosabe
Member since:
2009-11-29

There is normally no authority that decides words as existing or having a certain meaning. The most recognition a word can get is usually getting in a dictionary. If a word gets used often enough there is nothing an institution can do but acknowledge it (which adds zero value to it being in a dictionary).

Beyond that an institution _can_ advocate usage of a word. It is here that I would ask this institution, not Google, to leave me alone to use whatever I want.

That said, no corporation would have acted differently from Google. If they did they would rightfully be called incompetent. Maybe I would be offended if trademark law wasn't so stupid in this regard.

Reply Score: 4

RE: No harm done
by lucas_maximus on Tue 26th Mar 2013 18:34 UTC in reply to "No harm done"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Well it is like in English with Oxford vs Cambridge Dictionaries.

Oxford spelling uses z in civilization where Cambridge uses the s. However colour is still spelled with the "u".

Edited 2013-03-26 18:35 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: No harm done
by ricegf on Wed 27th Mar 2013 12:00 UTC in reply to "RE: No harm done"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

They both misspell "color"?!?

(*ducks*)

Reply Score: 2

Ridiculous.
by tylerdurden on Tue 26th Mar 2013 19:39 UTC
tylerdurden
Member since:
2009-03-17

The irony (or is it hypocrisy?) being that Google took their name by misspelling a term invented by somebody else (Googol).

What a "brave" new world is becoming; Even language is starting to be under corporate control...

Reply Score: 3

RE: Ridiculous.
by lucas_maximus on Tue 26th Mar 2013 22:04 UTC in reply to "Ridiculous."
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

The other version of the story is that when they got to get funding they called it "googleplex" which is a very large number and the investor wrote the check to google after they misheard it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ridiculous.
by tylerdurden on Wed 27th Mar 2013 02:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Ridiculous."
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

That's an urban myth. Google was their name even back when it was still an academic project as a .stanford.edu subdomain.


http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html


In any case, corporations controlling language is an awful thing.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Ridiculous.
by lucas_maximus on Wed 27th Mar 2013 13:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ridiculous."
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I expect it to be, though I do like to think that they came up with a overblown name and the exec cocked it up and it became such a well known brand.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ridiculous.
by WorknMan on Tue 26th Mar 2013 23:54 UTC in reply to "Ridiculous."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

What a "brave" new world is becoming; Even language is starting to be under corporate control...


Yeah, reminds me of when McDonalds tried to change the definition of 'McJob'.

Reply Score: 2

Trademark and decency
by Beta on Tue 26th Mar 2013 19:58 UTC
Beta
Member since:
2005-07-06

Google has always asked people not to ‘Google’ for things, but rather ‘Search’ for them; at least they are consistent in asking people to not use their name as such.

Reply Score: 3

O RLY?
by Nico57 on Tue 26th Mar 2013 20:48 UTC
Nico57
Member since:
2006-12-18

Come on Thom, you're overholwerdaizing !

Reply Score: 10

chill pills
by mistersoft on Tue 26th Mar 2013 23:55 UTC
mistersoft
Member since:
2011-01-05

You Hoover up.
If you need to you might take an Aspirin.
You go online and Google for cheap FCUK .....perhaps


As much as Google might 'feel the need' to protect against generic trademarks, they don't have a right to interfere in the work of the Swedish Language council any more than they do the work of the OED or others. Like Thom and other have said, they're only recording current and passing language usage patterns. That's it.

Edited 2013-03-26 23:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

If you still think *oogle is your friend...
by orfanum on Wed 27th Mar 2013 04:27 UTC
orfanum
Member since:
2006-06-02

...you need to find different ones, or redefine your definition of friendship.

I see a lot of people acting towards *oogle like a victim of domestic abuse: "Oh, you know, when he's not drunk (on power), he's so good to me...I could never leave him...(nervously and unconsciously touches bruising around eye...)."

Soon *oogle will be in a position where you'll never be able to leave (*oogle *lass), will always be able to find your refuge and haul you back 'home'.

A plea to its founders: pull the plug on the monster you have created.

Orf.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Meanwhile
by Meanwhile on Wed 27th Mar 2013 07:48 UTC
Meanwhile
Member since:
2005-09-03

"I will use whatever words I damn well please..."
Good to see you use 'damn' at least for once. And let's hope your silly 'heck' will get replaced by 'hell'.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by banatibor
by banatibor on Wed 27th Mar 2013 09:40 UTC
banatibor
Member since:
2012-07-02

I think the fact that such a word like "ungoogleable" appeared is a small rot in a language. There is no need such words like the one we are talking about. You can express yourself with the currently known words and such words like "ungooglable" is the product of laziness. Of course the "google it" expression already exists but I think everybody associate it with an online search not Google. I can not speak on behalf of people of Sweden but I would hate a word like "ungooglable" in my language, by the way I am Hungarian. If a language council would concerned about the language it would let this abomination sink into oblivion, and would not try to legalize it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by banatibor
by vaette on Wed 27th Mar 2013 12:40 UTC in reply to "Comment by banatibor"
vaette Member since:
2008-08-09

There is no word for it though, and people do already say ungoogleable (or however one would spell it in english). It is not like the word can't be dropped from dictionaries again if it falls out of favor.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by MyNameIsNot4Letter
by MyNameIsNot4Letter on Wed 27th Mar 2013 09:48 UTC
MyNameIsNot4Letter
Member since:
2011-01-09

I completely disagree with Thom.

If no-one body guides the language, then all languages will quickly end up like the shit, that is the English language. There are no rules, it's a frikkin mess!

Teenagers will be setting the language of the future, and their motivation is seriously fubar. Their goal is to not sound like old people, so use any words that distinguish themselves from the previous generation. Sadly, these people still don't have enough knowledge to know a languages rules, and therefore in my opinion should not be setting the agenda.


/Uni

Reply Score: 0

RE: Comment by MyNameIsNot4Letter
by Soulbender on Wed 27th Mar 2013 11:41 UTC in reply to "Comment by MyNameIsNot4Letter"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Teenagers will be setting the language of the future, and their motivation is seriously fubar.


You realize this has always been the case, right?

Reply Score: 4

In other news...
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 27th Mar 2013 17:53 UTC
BallmerKnowsBest
Member since:
2008-06-02

Officials from Microsoft reportedly offered to allow the use of an alternative term, though their offer was rejected... possibly because the proposed alternative was created by the same people responsible for Microsoft's recent product names:

"unbingdotcombroughttoyoubymicrosoftwindows8rt-able"

Reply Score: 2

App vs. Google
by slhawkins on Thu 28th Mar 2013 18:03 UTC
slhawkins
Member since:
2009-12-26

I believe it's unfair to compare this case to Apple's use of the word App. Google is the company's actual name (obviously), whereas App is/was already a common word prior to Apple's use of it.

As for generic trademarks, I don't believe it matters if they use a prefix or affix, or both. Either way you still have the same root word.

Reply Score: 2