‘Shouldn’t happen again’: Online petitioner from Bengaluru on Google’s ‘ugliest language’ fiasco

‘Shouldn’t happen again’: Online petitioner from Bengaluru on Google’s ‘ugliest language’ fiasco


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What makes a language “ugly”? In the case of Google, it claims it was an “algorithm” thing that prompted it to pop “Kannada” as the answer. Naturally, it led to a furore in the country, which is home to many different languages and cultures. So, what exactly happened?

On June 3, a Google search result showed that Kannada is the “ugliest language in India”. Screenshots soon began to be shared on social media, which mortified and enraged people, who could not understand why the search engine would throw such an answer.

Kannada is a Dravidian language, native to Karnataka, and spoken by Kannadigas living in other parts of the country and around the world.

While Karnataka Minister for Kannada, Culture and Forest Aravind Limbavali said a legal notice would be served to Google, he also took to Twitter to express his indignation.

Amid all this, a petition was also started on Change.org, which garnered over 18,000 signatures in a couple of days. “Being Kannadigas it’s really important for us to take serious action on this website and even request Google to remove this link in priority. We request you all to take one minute of time & sign this petition so that it helps for us to file a cyber complaint on behalf of the Karnataka people so that this result must end as soon as possible,” it read.

While the gaffe was embarrassing, Google fixed it and also apologised saying the search result did not reflect its opinion, but that “sometimes, the way content is described on the internet can yield surprising results to specific queries”.

According to a Deccan Herald report, the controversial search result was sourced from a website — “debtconsolidationsquad.com”. The webpage was eventually excluded from its search results, but by then, it had already angered people.

The Change.org petitioner Prathapa Vishwanath — who owns a corporate IT company in Bengaluru — told indianexpress.com that he loves the Kannada language, and learned about the fiasco from one of his neighbours. “I started the petition for it to be immediately pushed to Google, for them to completely remove the website. I respect all languages and no one has any right to say… [that Kannada is the ugliest Indian language]. We started this petition so that it does not happen again. I spoke with the police, and they said let the signatures cross 25,000, following which they will take some action, a cyber complaint. Next time, it should not happen at all,” he said.

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