The Story Behind 'Ni--er Brown' Pants

Who's behind the translation software that keeps causing this mistake?

Posted:
 
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Gawker

The confusion has been cleared up, and Abercrombie & Fitch is off the hook in the latest incident of racist descriptors attached to clothing -- but that doesn't mean the Twittersphere has calmed down at all.

From Gawker:

Twitter is freaking out over brown cargo pants which appear to be sold by Abercrombie and Fitch and are described as 'Nigger Brown.' It's a hoax: the pants are listed on abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com, a bogus website registered in China that appears to sell knock-off A&F gear. But how did these pants end up being described so racist-ly in the first place?

Our best guess: The sites' Chinese owners relied on a very bad Chinese-English translation program that's done this before. Back in 2007, a black Toronto couple were shocked to find that their new couch had a tag underneath that described its color, like these pants, as "nigger brown." Subsequent investigation traced the error back to the couch's Chinese manufacturer, who had used a translation program by Kingsoft which gave the slur as a translation for "dark brown."

The next obvious question is, who in the world is making the translation software that keeps causing these humiliating mistakes? Gawker says it's Kau Pak Kwan, who started Kingsoft Corp back in 1988. Do you think he's somewhere, laughing every time a clothing website inadvertently attacks its customers with a racial slur, thanks to his product? Or could this be an honest mistake?

Read more at Gawker.

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