All the buzz surrounding Google today is concerning the fact that they’re attempting to play hard ball with the Chinese government, and the havoc caused by the imminence of the caffeine update.

What only a few souls have noticed is that Google are attempting to force American spellings onto an unsuspecting British populace.

 

Google UK. The whole point of it, is that it provides information tailored to UK searchers. So it’d make sense that it defaults to the local language, right?

It certainly does in France and Germany. If you put “chien” into Google.fr, it doesn’t return a comment asking you if you meant “dog”. For some reason it doesn’t treat British English in the same way.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on a Tweet this morning that took me to this page:

Google Results for Search Engine Optimisation

The searcher asked for “search engine optimisation”. All those words are highlighted, so they are in Google’s dictionary and recognised as words. So why did Google return a search on the query “search engine optimisation”?

This isn’t an isolated incident either. I tried a few single word searches. “Colonisation” for example works fine, But when I started to search for terms with more than one word, the defaulting to Americanisms reared its star spangled head.

 Google Results Colonise America

So what does this mean? Are Google having trouble with their automatic spellchecker, or is it something more sinister? I wouldn’t for a moment entertain the notion that Google are attempting to create some sort of linguistic hegemony, but is it possible that they’re working to some sort of sinister agenda?

Google Results Americanisation of English

I’m not the only person to notice the creeping Americanisation, but there’s no concensus on why it’s been done. Dodgy spell checking? Cultural imperialism? Search volumes?

I’ll leave that with you…

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