Ten years from now, jokey newspaper articles about corporate follies will mention why the Chevy Nova didn’t sell in Latin America, the hilarity that ensued when company names (e.g., Pen Island) became URLs, and how Google waded into the mighty river of language one day and drowned.
Google has launched an effort to keep people from using their name as an all-purpose verb. According to Michael Krantz on the Google blog, they still think that saying something like “I googled it” is acceptable if it’s the alternative to “I looked it up on Google.” If you used some other search engine, however, “google” as a verb is “bad. Very, very bad,” writes Krantz. “You can only ‘Google’ on the Google search engine. If you absolutely must use one of our competitors, please feel free to ‘search’ on Yahoo or any other search engine.”
Pardon me if I don’t feel chastised for googling on yahoo. I’d rather celebrate and encourage the linguistic process that turns a name into a verb, and I think Google should too. Here’s why.
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