Commentary

I don't know... just "Google" it!

Just the other day I came across the official blog by Google. I wasn’t entirely sure what the content of a Google blog post would be…. But I gave it a shot and came across something interesting.

In developmental psychology, we discuss the concept of overregulation, which is a grammatical error that children make in early language development. For example, a child might say “We goed to the store today!” This child is overregulating the “-ed” rule; however, I do not believe this mistake is limited to grammar or to children.

For adults, we overregulate product names. How many times can you recall using the word “Kleenex” to refer to any tissue, or the word “Chapstick” to refer to lip balm?

These are just a few examples of this classic mistake that I make on a daily basis. And where does this idea come from? Could it just be the results of great advertising? Or something we've picked up from the media? The blog post I read addressed this issue in terms of “Google,” and I started thinking just how bad this particular example has become in my life.

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I mean, my overregulation of “Google” is out of control! Even my mother will say “I don’t know! Google it!” But I think I have taken this “noun turned verb” situation a step too far.

It all went down a few weeks ago. I was trying to explain to someone how I found the Ball State University Calendar online. What I meant to say was that I got on the Ball State website and typed “University Calendar” in the search box; however, what came out was, “Oh it was easy, I just Ball State Googled it." And what happened next? The conversation kept on going. My friend knew exactly what I meant without any further explanation.

This isn’t the only modern online overregulated phenomenon – we are all guilty of asking someone to “Facebook” us or “Youtube” the latest video. This is a trend that I see only getting worse in the future! Who knows what ways my grandchildren will come up with to overregulate the English language!

1 comment about "I don't know... just "Google" it!".
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  1. Ace Howard from Ball State University, April 3, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.

    While it's interesting to observe, I wouldn't consider overregulation a bad thing. While it may make grammar prescriptivists cringe, it doesn't detract from meaning and I think that it makes communication simpler. People understand you if you tell them to Google something and it's quicker to say than "look it up on Google."

    I'm in a linguistic class right now and we've talked about how language is always changing. I think we're noticing a huge change right before our eyes.

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