Google attempts to censor the Swedish language

Google is reportedly interfering with the Swedish language – putting pressure on the Language Council not to include “ogooglebar” in its yearly list of new words.

“Ogooglebar” means something that can’t be found on the internet using a search engine. Speaking with Sveriges Radio, the Language Council’s Ann Cederberg said: “It’s not just about our definition of the word, we also tried to describe how users define the word and Google had opinions about that”. reports that Google had a problem with the Council’s decision – and it wanted it to make clear that the word only applied to Google. The company’s lawyers got involved, and the Council reported that they “tried to influence our way of defining the word”. Ultimately, it was more hassle than it was worth and the word was removed.

This is the very first time the Language Council has had to remove a word, and it was allegedly at the bullying behest of one of the wealthiest IT corporations on the planet. Clearly in a resource battle, Google outgunned Sweden’s language council. Fighting the behemoth took “too much time and resources”.

But the council pointed out whether Google likes it or not, the word exists in Sweden and there’s not much the company can do about that. “It’s the users of the language who decide if it will remain,” Cederberg said. “If the word exists, use it if you want. That’s something Google can’t decide”.

“Google hasn’t won anything with this,” Cederberg said.

The case mirrors Intel’s efforts in the nineties to copyright the letter “i”. Fortunately that didn’t work. Google initially tried to stop the word “googling” – and back in the 1990s NCR wanted to put a stop to the word “tower” because it had a tower PC and claimed it was the first.

Speaking with TechEye, one Swedish student living in London said: “I think it’s incredible that Google attempts to control the Swedish language. We also have a verb – ‘googla’ which means ‘to google’, but I guess they wouldn’t have anything against that.

“It’s scary how everything is becoming increasingly controlled by corporations, but do they really believe that they can govern our language? People will obviously still use the word, whether it’s in a dictionary or not.”

With that, we recommend “ogooglebar” leaps Sweden’s borders and makes it into the international lexicon. Ogooglebar: something that cannot be answered with a web search (Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, Yahoo, or otherwise). 

At press time, Google had failed to respond to us for comment.