Warning: Racially Offensive Furniture
Some Red Sox fans are doubly happy this week: not only did their team win a World Series, but they also get a rebate on the furniture they bought during a special Red Sox incentive deal last spring.
Hopefully none of them got a brown couch whose color is described, on its tag, with the use of the n-word.
That’s what happened to a Toronto woman in named Doris Moore. According to this A.P. article, Moore’s seven-year-old daughter found a tag on the couch reading “N—– brown” and asked her mother what the n-word meant.
How did this happen? The A.P. article explains:
Kingsoft Corp., a Chinese software company, acknowledged its translation program was at fault and said it was a regrettable error.
“I know this is a very bad word,” Huang Luoyi, a product manager for the Beijing-based company’s translation software, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He explained that when the Chinese characters for “dark brown” are typed into an older version of its Chinese-English translation software, the offensive N-word description comes up.
“We got the definition from a Chinese-English dictionary. We’ve been using the dictionary for 10 years. Maybe the dictionary was updated, but we probably didn’t follow suit,” he said.
Moore, who is black, was shocked and chagrined by the incident. She filed a report with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and has gone so far as to meet with a lawyer to consider seeking compensation. As she explains: “I had friends over from St. Lucia yesterday and they wouldn’t sit on the couch.”
(Hat tip: Elka Shmelka.)