Bengali was not selected as the sweetest language in the world in UNESCO’s survey

A claim has been circulating on the internet since 2010, stating that a survey conducted by UNESCO in 2010 voted Bengali as the sweetest language in the world.

sweetest language
Screenshot from Crowdtangle

Check out some viral Facebook posts regarding this topic here, here, here, here and here. Archived version here, here, here, here, and here.

Mainstream media outlets such as Protidiner Bangladesh, Somoy TV, Dainik Shiksha, Change TV Press, The Business Standard, Risingbd, Bangladesh Pratidin, Ekushey Television, Janakantha, The Daily Ittefaq, Daily Inqilab, and Daily Sangram published articles mentioning this claim.

Opinion columns mentioning the claim published in the BBC Bangla, BD Journal, Daily Campus, and Purboposhchim.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid and Minister for Post and Telecommunications Mustafa Jabbar gave speeches mentioning this claim.

When searching for “sweetest language in the world” on Google in both English and Bengali, the results repeatedly show Bengali as the result.

Screenshot from Google
Screenshot from Google

FactCheck

According to the Rumor Scanner’s investigation, the claim that Bengali has been voted as the world’s sweetest language in a survey by UNESCO is false. A spokesperson for the organization confirmed that they have not published such a report, survey or ranking.

Origin of the rumor

In our research, The initial post about this topic was found on Twitter, posted on 21 April 2010 at 5:06 PM, by a profile named ‘anamus’, with the caption, “UNESCO study also stated that the top three sweetest sounding languages are Bengali, Spanish, and Dutch.”

Screenshot of a Tweet by @_anamus
Screenshot of a Facebook post by Kaberi Chatterjee

It should be noted that these posts may not be the exact first posts regarding this topic, as social media posts can be deleted for various reasons.

Later, the claim rapidly spread on Facebook and Twitter.

Screenshot Source: Facebook
Screenshot Source: Twitter

After that, Indian newspaper Times of India published an article with the headline, “Sweetest language tag for Bengali?” on April 22, 2010.

Screenshot Source: Times of India

The article states that, “If a message circulating on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook is to be believed, Bengali has been voted the sweetest language in the world. Conducted by Unesco, the vote ranks Spanish and Dutch as the second and third sweetest tongues respectively. Even though Twitter and Facebook users have started celebrating, there was yet no official confirmation from Unesco which conducted the online voting a couple of months back.”

The article also states that, “According to twitter messages, the formal announcement could come on Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary in May.”

So, the Indian media outlet Times of India had published the news based on the post circulated on social media outlets. The report also mentioned that there was no official confirmation from UNESCO on this particular topic. But the article, citing messages circulating on Twitter, mentioned “an official announcement may come on Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary.”

However, Rumor Scanner team tried to find official confirmation from UNESCO regarding this topic on the occasion of Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary on May 7, 2010. But nothing was found.

Did UNESCO really conduct a survey on this topic?

Rumor Scanner team conducted a search on UNESCO’s website and social media profiles (Facebook and Twitter) to check if the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had carried out a survey on the ‘sweetest languages in the world’. However, no official information regarding such a survey was found.

What UNESCO said about the existence of such a survey?

Rumor Scanner team reached out to UNESCO’s Press Officer Thomas Mallard via email to verify the claim that “Bengali has been selected as the sweetest language in the world according to a UNESCO survey.” Mallard replied,

This claim is not accurate. There is no such report, survey or ranking published by UNESCO. We promote diversity and protection for every language, without any distinction.

Why does Google show “Bengali” as the sweetest language when searched in English and Bengali?

When searching for “sweetest language in the world” on Google in both English and Bengali, the results appear ‘Bengali’.

Google, the popular search engine, displays results to users based on available online sources. If the query “sweetest language in the world” is searched in Bengali, Google displays results obtained from the “Somoy TV” website and if searched in English, Google displays results from the “ischoolconnect” website.

Screenshot Source: Google
Screenshot of a Facebook post by Kaberi Chatterjee

Thus, the information shown in Google search results for “sweetest language in the world” in both Bengali and English, displaying “Bengali” as the answer, is derived from two false reports that claim that there was a survey on this topic conducted by UNESCO.

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Mainly in 2010 the claim that Bengali was selected as the “sweetest language” in a UNESCO survey spread on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. The Indian newspaper “Times of India” then published an article based on these social media posts. Since then, this claim has been widely spread across the Internet. However, research conducted by the Rumor Scanner team revealed that there is no evidence of such a survey on UNESCO’s website or social media profiles. Additionally, a spokesperson from UNESCO confirmed to Rumor Scanner that the claim is false and the organization never published any report, survey, or list regarding this matter.

Hence, the claim that Bengali was voted as the sweetest language in the world by a UNESCO survey is completely false.

Sources

RS Team
Rumor Scanner Fact-Check Team
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