A poor translation in an
English-Chinese dictionary in China has unexpectedly triggered a complaint from
an African-American woman living in Canada, who bought a sofa bearing an
Doris Moore was at a loss for words when the sofa arrived at her home in
Toronto, Ontario, and her seven-year-old daughter pointed at "nigger brown" on
"I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes," Western media reports quoted
Moore as saying. The label reads as follows:
Net weight: 67kg
"My daughter asked me what the N-word meant. I was stunned and didn't know
what to say," Moore said, according to the reports.
She also said the furniture set's other pieces (loveseat and chair) revealed
the same color description as the sofa.
Moore complained to the furniture store, which blamed the supplier, who also
refused to take responsibility for the mistake. The supplier suggested that
Moore call the manufacturing company in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province in south
Eventually, the problem was blamed on a poor English-Chinese computer
translation program, which is made by Beijing-based software company Kingsoft
Kingsoft acknowledged its translation program was at fault and said it was a
regrettable error. Luo Yi, a product manager for the company's translation
software, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
But Luo's assistant told Shanghai Daily yesterday that she was authorized to
say that Kingsoft was aware of the faulty translation and that the definition
came from a English-Chinese dictionary. The assistant said the firm had been
using the dictionary for 10 years and that it had likely been updated, but
Kingsoft didn't buy a newer version.
In the updated version of the 2007 program, the offensive translation no
longer appears when changing from Chinese to English. However, when the N-word
is typed into the program in English, the Chinese characters still appear as
Moore said Kingsoft's acknowledgment of a mistake does not make her feel
better. She was unhappy at being forced to explain the word to her daughter,
news reports said.
She consulted with a lawyer at the Ontario Human Rights Commission about
seeking compensation. The commission said the case is in the initial stages now
and could take six months to two years to resolve.
Moore reportedly said she was not sure whether to keep the furniture, even
with the labels removed. "Every time I sit on it, I can't help but think of the