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Swedish scrap 'ungoogleable'

March 26, 2013

The Language Council of Sweden has clashed with Internet giant Google, complaining that the firm was trying to control the Swedish language. Google had made a complaint about a term meaning "ungoogleable."

Google, GMail, Google Plus, Google Chrome, Picasa, YouTube, new Terms and Conditions. (CTK Photo/Rene Fluger)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The council, which documents changes and trends within the Swedish language, said on Monday it would delete the word "ogooglebar" - roughly meaning "ungoogleable" - from its most recent list.

Compilers defined the word in its 2012 collection of newly-coined terms as describing "something that cannot be found on the web with a search engine."

However, Google objected to the summation, saying that the definition should contain a specific reference to its own search engine. The web giant also demanded that a disclaimer be inserted stating that Google was a registered trademark.

But rather than changing the definition, the council said it would remove the word.

"We have neither the time nor the desire to engage in the long, drawn-out process Google is trying to initiate," said council head Ann Cederberg. "Neither do we want to compromise and change the definition of 'ogooglebar' to the one the company wants. That would go against our principles."

While Google refrained from commenting directly, company spokesman Gustaf Brusewitz said the firm took "routine steps" to protect its trademarks when it was deemed necessary.

The council, under the authority of the Swedish culture ministry, is responsible for documenting words that have entered common speech but which have not yet officially become a part of the Swedish language.

rc/kms (AP, AFP)