It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.
The eye's of Big Brother
In Orwell's classic 1984Winston Smith lived in a world where thought was controlled by language and fear: Big Brother.
His message was not one predicting the future but indicting the present, and forms of thought control are everywhere, though difficult to detect. "Big Brother is watching."
While any linguist will tell you that language emanates from the people and should evolve freely, Google has succeeded in controlling that precious freedom. When language is curbed or restricted, thought, in part, is confined.
Salon's recently Prachi Gupta reported 1984-like restriction of language by one of the most powerful entities in society: Google. We must put aside politics here because what Gupta discusses is raw power of the most frightening kind. This power is a theme in 1984, as Big Brother states, “We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.” In changing our language, they change us.
They manipulate both through force and the control of language, adding and subtracting from the vocabulary in order to spin there products. Gupta's title states that "Google tells Sweden that “ungoogleable” is not a word." Google sites restrictions on trademark, but the real problem they have is with the meaning of the word.
Sweden defines ungoogleable as "as anything that cannot be found on the search engine," which appears to be a perfectly appropriate coinage. We need a word which describes something that cannot be found on Google.
However, in the eyes of Google, the word connotes that they are lacking in some way, a heresy for Googlites. Gupta steps back a bit from the issue, stating "It was only a matter of time, then, that someone would try to push “ungoogleable” as a word (though really, is there such a thing?)."
Well, of course there is such a thing, otherwise Google is some sort of all knowing god. And, this is the impression it wants to give. Should not an intelligent sovergein people be up in arms at Google's attempt to seize power over language? You can have your precious "Google" trademarked, but you cannot trademark every possible coinage and offshoot of the term that users of the language create.
Google siezes power by slow subtle moves. History and 1984 teach us that “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” Google fights this battle because they know how important language is in the public perception of their products. To suggest that they are lacking in some way diminishes their power, but their omnipotence is already clear, and they have have always closely guarded their trademark, according to the latest from the BBC.
The Language Council of Sweden explains their dillema as they coneide to Google's pronouncement:
"I don't want to be influenced by a company, but this was the only way to solve the problem," Ms Cederberg told the BBC.
The powerful overcome the weak through the fear of litigation. The Council does not have the means to fight the likes of Google. Nor does anyone. This is frightening when not only does Google essentially control the internet, but now they set out to control the language surrounding it.
To say that they control the internet is not an overstatement, if you are familiar with Google Rank, Penguin and Panda, and the new Author Rank. They control what sites are hit in organic searches, and we know this is the most powerful way for a site to be recognized.
I don't know of a solution to this problem, other than a public outcry which I do not see forthcoming. I can see why, to most, a corporate body deleting a word would appear innocuous. However, the more power surrendered, the less potent are our mouths, and when we speak of language, few things are more important. As in 1984, once power is gained it is never relinquished.
What is at stake?
The future is bleak in 1984, and ours not nearly so. But, slowly our control of our language is threatened, and the end result can be severe. I love Google, use it daily, but how much power is too much?
1984 ends hauntingly in an agony I hope we can avoid “But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” Winston concedes. We can't blame him though because we love Google too, and “What can you do ... against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?”
We must draw the line and end the lunacy.
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Speak UP, what is your take on this? Do I make too much of it? Do you see something I have missed? I would love to hear your comments.
By Darin L. Hammond
Writer for ZipMinis and owns ZipMinis Freelance Writing.
Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati
BC Blog, and Social Media Today.