‘Ungooglable’ – the Schrödinger’s cat of Sweden

Search giant Google recently went to extraordinary lengths to make sure something couldn’t actually be found.

The thing in question was the term ‘ogooglebar’ and Google wanted to make sure that it was either edited or removed from the annual list of new words released by the Swedish Language Council.

For the non-Scandinavians ‘ogooglebar’ refers to something that can’t be found using the popular search engine. The direct translation would be something like ‘ungoggleable’. In Sweden it refers to something which can’t be found using a search engine.

Since the Swedish Language Council released its latest list of new words – which included ‘ogoolgebar’ – in December, Google has been pushing the council to amend the definition of the term and add a disclaimer that added that Google is a trademark.

And, in what might just be a random coincidence, ‘ogooglebar’ can’t be translated into English using Google Translate.

Not wanting to be caught up in a lengthy legal process, the Swedish Language Council simple opted to remove ‘ogooglebar’ from it’s list of new words. Whether or not Google knew this was likely to happen? Well, one can only guess….

So where does that leave ‘ogooglebar’?

Well, you could say that it’s now a Swedish linguistic Schrödinger’s cat – there’s really no way of knowing if ‘ogooglebar’ is alive or dead without actually going to Sweden.

And if you choose to do that, and bump into anyone working for Google, this sentence might come in handy: ‘Jag förstår inte’


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