Google’s answer to “ugliest language” query was Kannada. An apology follows
Bengaluru: Google, the US-based search engine giant, on Thursday found itself at the receiving end of severe criticism over its search results that returned Kannada as the answer to a question on India’s “ugliest language”.
According to the image shared widely on social media, the answer to a question, “What is the ugliest language in India?” was Kannada. “The answer is Kannada spoken by around 40 million people in south India,” according to a screenshot of the search results.
The backlash from the Kannada language speakers, which is one of the national languages in the country, was so spontaneous that #Kannada was trending on microblogging site, Twitter across the country. Other hashtags like #KannadaQueenOfAllLanguages also continued to trend on Twitter.
Google later deleted the response that had offended people, saying the search results weren’t always perfect.
“Sometimes, the way content is described on the Internet can yield surprising results to specific queries. We know this is not ideal, but we take swift corrective action when we are made aware of an issue and are continually working to improve our algorithms. Naturally, these are not reflective of the opinions of Google, and we apologize for the misunderstanding and hurting any sentiments,” a Google spokesperson said in a response to Hindustan Times.
But that was later. For hours, netizens and politicians from all major parties in Karnataka took to social media to criticise the Sundar Pichchai-led company.
“Kannada language has a history of its own, having come into existence as many as 2,500 years ago! It has been the pride of Kannadigas all through these two-and-a-half millennia,” Arvind Limbavali, Karnataka’s minister for forest, Kannada and culture said in a twitter post.
“If Kannada is now called ugliest language in India, it is merely an attempt by @Google
to insult this pride of Kannadigas. Demand apology from @Google ASAP to Kannada, Kannadigas. Legal action will be taken against @Google for maligning the image of our beautiful language!,” he added.
“Home to the great Vijayanagara Empire, #Kannada language has a rich heritage, a glorious legacy and a unique culture. One of the world’s oldest languages, Kannada had great scholars who wrote epics much before Geoffrey Chaucer was born in the 14th century. Apologise @GoogleIndia,” PC Mohan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament from Bengaluru Central posted on Twitter.
“This blunder is not acceptable. When it comes to language, whoever it is should be careful. Especially when it comes to Kannada, twice the care should be taken. Otherwise, there will be no surprise if the self-respect of Kannadiga’s that became a wave in just one hour, can turn into a Tsunami,” HD Kumaraswamy, former chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader said in a post in Kannada on Twitter.