Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Avoiding genericide: Ogooglebar

French, they say, is the language of diplomacy; English, the language of business; Italian, the language of love; and Swedish, the language of secrets. That last may have been made up by a former colleage of mine, married to a Swede, who would engage her Swedish opposite number in incomprehensible conversation at international meetings. But it's also a language with a sense of humour.

I didn't know until now that there is a Swedish Language Council, functionally equivalent to the Academie Française, something which we could do with here: I was reading a consultation paper from our so-called Intellectual Property Office this morning (on designs, from last year), although it was only with a huge effort of will that I proceeded past the first split infinitive (which occurred in the list of contents). Whoever wrote such appalling rubbish - that split infinitive was the start of a litany of grammatical errors of one sort or another - needs some compulsory re-education, not necessarily in the sense in which the word was understood by various communist regimes, a bit more humane.

A while ago I read that the word "ogooglebar" had been coined in the language of secrets to mean something that cannot be found on the Internet using a search engine. Of course, to use the verb "to Google" (or, worse, "to google") to mean to conduct an Internet search is inexcusable, though common, and Google no doubt have to work hard to avoid genericide. They have taken exception on the same grounds to the new Swedish word, according to The Week (thanks to Sarah for sending me the cutting), and back in March (no, this is not really news) it was removed from the list of new Swedish words, the first time this has happened. "Henifiera", a very useful word and equally useful concept, meaning to use the pronoun "hen" to mean "he or she" (or, often, "they" in studiedly neutral prose, or "he/she" or "(s)he" in the work of authors of doubtful literacy), remains.

You can read the official statement here, but don't tell anyone what it says.

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online