US-based search engine giant Google issued an apology to the Kannadiga community of India after searches on its website flagged up their regional language, Kannada, as being India’s “ugliest language”.
The finding erupted earlier this week, offending the Kannadiga community which is based mainly in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Google removed the result from the web, and added in its apology the fact that “search results are not 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. We apologise for the misunderstanding and hurting any feelings,” Google’s apology note to India's 40 million Kannada speakers reportedly said.© AP Photo / Michel Euler
The American giant's regrets were inspired by a severe backlash from the Indian community.
Hardanahalli Devegowda Kumaraswamy, Karnataka's former state chief, took to Twitter to criticise Google for its “irresponsible” behaviour that showed disrespect to a language whose origins reach back at least 2,500 years.
"Is it impossible for Google to curb such hatred against any language?" he asked.
ಭಾಷೆ ವಿಚಾರದಲ್ಲಿ @GoogleIndia @Google ಯಾಕಿಷ್ಟು ಅಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮವಾಗಿ ನಡೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತದೆ? 'Ugliest language in India' ಎಂಬ ಹುಡುಕಾಟಕ್ಕೆ #Kannada ಎಂದು ಉತ್ತರ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ವೆಬ್ ಪುಟ ತೆಗೆದು ಹಾಕಲು ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರು ಬಂಡೇಳಬೇಕಾಯ್ತೆ? ಯಾವುದೇ ಭಾಷೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧದ ಇಂಥ ದ್ವೇಷವನ್ನು ಮೊದಲೇ ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸಲು Googleಗೆ ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವೇ?— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) June 3, 2021
And Aravind Limbavali, a leader from the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from southern India, emphasised how the Kannada language has been the pride of the Kannadiga people.
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. 1/2#Kannada— Aravind Limbavali (@ArvindLBJP) June 3, 2021
Other BJP leaders such as P.C. Mohan and CT Ravi also leapt to the Indian language's defence, demanding an apology from Google.
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. pic.twitter.com/Xie927D0mf— P C Mohan (@PCMohanMP) June 3, 2021
Dear @GoogleIndia,— C T Ravi 🇮🇳 ಸಿ ಟಿ ರವಿ (@CTRavi_BJP) June 3, 2021
Rev. Ferdinand Kittel from Germany produced the first ever Kannada-English dictionary after working on it for 24 years.
Ptolemy mentioned about Kannada in his treatise.
How can Kannada be an ugly language?
I am glad you removed the offensive search result.
The result is no longer visible on Google when “ugliest language in India” is put in the search bar, save from the headlines to the stories which have been generated by the controversy.
After facing backlash over showing #Kannada as India's 'ugliest language' and issuing an apology, Google shows no result for the same category anymore. Except to news pieces related to the subject ofcourse. pic.twitter.com/iHBmPKf4md— Radhika Parashar (@_RadhikaReports) June 4, 2021
In 2018, an Indian media report citing the census said that more than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India, most of them unofficially.
The 121 official languages belong to one of two types — those that are included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, making up 22 languages; and those not included in the Eighth Schedule, comprising 99 languages.
The 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule are: Kannada, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.