Do you guglear or google ha da? Or maybe you’re using l’Gagel in Hebrew?
Technology hasn’t only changed the way we work – it’s also given us plenty of new words. The verb “to google” was first included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.
According to them it can be a transitive verb “she googled an ex-boyfriend” or an intransitive one: “I googled for a cheap hotel”. It also gives the adjective form “Googleable” (or “Googlable”).
But what about in other countries? The search engine giant is a worldwide phenomenon. It holds the top spot in the vast majority of countries, with a few notable exceptions such as China and South Korea.
The Atlantic Wire has helpfully compiled a list of the equivalent verb in more than 20 languages. It’s a good illustration of how words and brand names are adapted to fit languages’ own rules, spelling and pronunciation.
If you’re searching in Spain, it’s googlear or guglear, while it’s гуглить (gugleet) in Russia and google ha da in South Korea.
In Italy, they prefer googlare, while it’s googeln in German and att googla in Sweden. Moving to Eastern Europe, it’s proguglati in Slovenian, googlować in Polish and vygooglit in Czech. Further east, they use ググる (guguru) in Japanese or menggoogle in Indonesian.
The Chinese equivalent is谷歌 (guge or gǔgē) . Incidentally, the name could be part of the reason why this is one market that Google fails to dominate. Not only is Baidu better adapted for Chinese language and culture, but many Chinese speakers struggled to pronounce the name Google at first.
It might have entered global dictionaries, but Google’s ubiquity could bring it commercial headaches when it comes to protecting its trademark. In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, it identified a downside to its success.
The company stated: “… there is a risk that the word ‘Google’ could become so commonly used that it becomes synonymous with the word ‘search’. If this happens, we could lose protection for this trademark, which could result in other people using the word ‘Google’ to refer to their own products, thus diminishing our brand.”
It’s the same reason Sony insisted Walkman should always be written with a capital letter and resisted its use as a generic term. Yet it lost its trademark protection in many countries, and the noun is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary simply as a “type of personal stereo”.
Wondering where the word “Google” came from in the first place? The term “googol”, meaning 10100, was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin changed the spelling and used the term to illustrate the huge amount of information available, but not yet searchable.
Want to know more about multilingual search engine optimisation? Whatever the language, our internet marketing experts can help! And our professional translators are up-to-date with all the latest lingo, meaning your translations will be word-perfect. Do get in touch and find out more.
Photo credit: Robert Scobie