Been googling lately? Google’s lawyers must have too much time on their hands. They’ve been contacting publications such as the Washington Post with a request to not use “google” as a verb. Such issues are common, of course, as success frequently breeds the generic use of a trademarked name. “Jeep” is one of the best examples. Even USGS maps use the term “jeep trail,” yet the word “Jeep” is still trademarked. Technically, the way I understand this is in print you can’t call something like a Subaru a Jeep, but you can use the words when applied to less directly related areas. For example, if you really wanted to you could write that you “subarued” to your backcountry skiing trailhead in the Wasatch, even if you drove a Hummer there. Or you jeeped.
Washington Post published an amusing article about the issue. They received a letter from Google with helpful examples of appropriate and inappropriate use:
Appropriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party.
Inappropriate: I googled that hottie.
Google comports themselves as ascended masters of the business universe, but experience their inner workings by managing their pay-per-click advertising systems for a living, as I do, and you see a brutal, no nonsense profit machine that’s weirdly skewed by their attempt to be different. For example, they’ll happily take your money, and plenty of it, but you’ll end up paying for all sorts of funny business known as “click fraud” in the trade (google it). Their turning lawyers loose on publications such as the Washington Post is more of the same. Weirder still, wouldn’t you give your eldest child to have your business name become household word that’s approved for the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, as “google” recently was? I can see it now, let’s go wildsnowing!
Which brings us to the title of this blogpost, Telemarking. History tells us the word “Telemark” once simply referred to a region (or county) in Norway. Sondre Norheim and his buddies from Telemark got way into skiing and wowed other areas with a variety of turns that included parallel techniques as well as the split stride turn now known by their home region’s name. Perhaps things work differently in Norwegian, but I’d imagine that even in that language it sounded weird to use Telemark as a verb? It’s like saying you’re Sierraing, or Coloradoing.
Google should take a lesson from that. Once a proper name starts being used as a verb, you might as well not worry about it and just enjoy your googling — or telemarking.