back to article Chinese translation software blamed in racist sofa outrage

A Toronto family has been left traumatised after a software translation error led to the dark brown upholstery of their new sofa being labelled "n-word brown", AP reports. Doris Moore explained that it was her seven-year-old daughter who first spotted the offending tag. She recounted: "My daughter saw the label and she knew …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More US BS.

    She said: "Something more has to be done. We don't just need a personal apology, but someone needs to own up to where these labels were made, and someone needs to apologise to all people of colour. I had friends over from St Lucia yesterday and they wouldn't sit on the couch."

    Get a life! Do they think it is some sort of Devil sofa?

    Why did she not just remove the tag and not tell the friends?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Oooh, there's a bad word on my couch tag! I'm gonna sue!"


  3. Gavin

    FFS what i8s it with people

    "She said the matter had "taken a toll on her family", and is accordingly seeking compensation."

    WTF if a label on a couch is taking a toll on her family she has a lot more important problems to take care of.

    "I had friends over from St Lucia yesterday and they wouldn't sit on the couch."

    perhaps next time don't buy a "nigger brown" sofa <sorry i have a bad translator too I'm donwloading the patch.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I knew the US was geographicaly chalenged but..

    Toronto is not in the US it is Canada (see first post). Although I agreed the woman sounds like a complete twit,

  5. UnixAnt

    Nanny Culture

    I agree with the above comments. Since when has it been a matter for the courts when somebody feels insulted by something? People insult/offend me practically on a weekly basis. I don't feel the need to sue all and sundry, simply because my feelings are hurt.

    The same applies to "offensive" TV shows. If you don't like it - change the channel. In this situation, if the sofa really is deeply offensive, take the damn thing back then.

    Not sitting on a couch you have just shelled out, I assume, a lot of money for is ridiculous.

  6. Chris

    Not US!

    Last time I looked anyway...

    Toronto is in Canada not the US.

  7. James Cleveland


    Get offended too easily.

    I cannot stress this enough.

  8. Eric

    She'd rather her daugter learn the word from Chris Rock then?

    Why the distress? Just tell your daughter it was typo and not a real word, then when she gets old enough to enjoy pop culture entertainment, she'll learn the word the "proper" way.

    We all have way too much free time on our hands if we can find the time to sue over a typo...

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Russell Sakne


    ...*claim* to get offended too easily when the legal environment doesn't slap them down for frivolous claims. How's the litigation culture north of the border?

  11. Simn Lovatt

    and on this bombshell

    I'd like to sue El Reg' for making me read that word. Oh how traumatised I am!

    I don't think I can carry out my duties effectively for the rest of the day [*] I might have to go home

  12. lansalot


    "By Rik Hemsley

    Posted Friday 20th April 2007 12:44 GMT

    I think Gavin's comment is in poor taste."

    Sue him ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Louts live!

    You do not pick your readership but these comments are appalling and embarrasing. Was it really necessary to print this crud?

  14. Liam

    me too

    in fact i am going to sue gavin for all the hardship and woe it has caused me and everyone who hasnt even seen this.

    i feel like poking out my eyes and never reading the reg again...

    j/k :)

    ffs lighten up. how can a small child be offended when it probably doesnt even understand. if they get ANYthing in compo someone wants a bollocking

    some day a judge needs to put their foot down (as long as that doesnt offend anyone - maybe a 7th day hoppist or something)

    and i listen to hiphop all the time - the N word is every other word. so a lot of people really cant be that offended can they? and if a word is offensive then its offensive - not just 'well im black so i can use that word' - that is racist itself...

  15. Jan Buys


    Those people urgently need a life. *sigh*

  16. Campbell

    Only human

    Why are you guys bashing this poor woman? After all she is only being a typical human following her greedy lust for money.

    Some sleezy lawyer has seen an opportunity and will be egging the chick on and they are gonna try to milk it for all it's worth.

    Everyone reading the article knows that the statement "taken a toll on her family", is a complete crock. Time for the courts throw both her and her lawyer out on their ears.

  17. David


    Apparently there are folks who wear their ethnicity on their sleeve as well as their sofas. Someone so evidently thin skinned that they compound the faux-offense by trumpeting it to their friends and making a circus out of saying they wouldn't even sit on it. Crazy seems to come in all shapes, sizes and colors!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kaffir limes?

    Living in South Africa, I used to cringe at an ingredient of many Thai condiments - Kaffir Lime leaves.

  19. Dan

    A toll on the family

    Highway tollboth attendents constantly "take a toll on my family" that is both a financial and emotional burden.

    Gimme some lawyers! In suits! And I want some laws passed to stop these road predators from taking a toll on my family!

    Granted, its not a very LARGE financial or emotional burden, but here in the USA everyone has the right to be hyper-sensitive and if people can't respect our right to be that way its hypersensitivity-racist-discriminanation-prejudicism.

    All satire aside, I wish people would stop using the "toll on the family" phrase so... indiscriminately.

  20. Andrew Sheehy

    litigation culture north of the border - Which Border

    Thankfully, the litigation culture in Canada is not even close to what it is in the states. Lawyers and insurance companies spread FUD to convince us otherwise, but the reality is we are thankfully free of nuisance litigation relative to the US.

    She won't get a dime unless the organizations she tries to sue have spines of jelly.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That 'N' word

    It'll take a few more years and a lot more old people dying (naturally I mean!) before the 'N' word moves out of circulation.

    Don't forget Douglas Baders dog was called N****r, as were thousands of other dogs at the time and later. I remember buying brown paint in Woolworths called N****r Brown in the 70's.

    Sadly younger people are prepared to take offence at what was totally normal less than a lifetime away.

    (And don't get me started on 'having a gay time' :-)


  22. Joe Cooper

    Litigation Culture

    "Thankfully, the litigation culture in Canada is not even close to what it is in the states. Lawyers and insurance companies spread FUD to convince us otherwise"

    I think it's mostly lawyers and insurance companies pushing it in the US too. Have you considered maybe it's overhyped in the US too? Crazy lawsuits do stand out and get a lot of attention.

  23. Neil Sutherland

    Whose Dog?

    As all of us who grew up wasting their teenage years watching the unending diet of WWII films shown on TV during the 70s know, it was Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC, DFC, DSO 1 bar of Dambusters fame whose dog was called Nigger!

  24. John Dougald McCallum

    Re litigation Culture

    I agree .We on this side of "the pond" only hear of the crazy settlements but as most of these go to appeal the sum is considerably reduced to a more realistic figure usualy around 10-20% of the original $N million dollars.

  25. pondscum

    I'm in trouble

    I'm in serious trouble then. My walls are painted "nipple pink". That's sure to offend more people.

  26. Walter Brown

    apologize to the people of color?

    which people of color?

    now let me break it down for you...

    white folks,

    when they are born they're pink

    when they get sun they're tan

    when they mad they're red

    when they get sick they're green

    when they get scared they're yellow

    when they're dying they're gray

    when they stop breathing they're blue

    when they die they turn black

    black folk,

    when they're born they're black

    when they get sun they're black

    when they're mad they're black

    when they're sick they're black

    when they're scared they're black

    when they die they're black

    and you have the nerve to call them colored... you should go see an eye doctor...

  27. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Now that is excellent !

    Mr Walter Brown, you deserve my congratulations. I haven't had a laugh that good in weeks.

    By the way, anybody know if this poor, traumatized women is of fair skin ? Because I have the notion that a lot of people "standing up" for "colored minorities" are in fact just trying to ease their racist conscience.

    Or, of course, she's just out for a quick buck.

  28. Tim


    If a child under my care saw a swear word I would say something along the lines of "Thats a rude word, you mustn't say it" and in this case gone on to say "It's supposed to be "Niger".

    If I was offended by it, I would take the sofa back/not buy it (if there are grounds to sue they'd surely refund your money).

    I'm most confused by the phrase "All people of colour", does he/she mean all black people, people of African decent, or simply everyone that isn't white, I find that phrase more racially significant than a spelling mistake. Maybe it's just me though.

  29. Paul Hurst


    David -

    "Crazy seems to come in all shapes, sizes and colors!"

    Well they might come in all shapes but sizes, but crazy isn't a shade of brown.


    "someone needs to apologise to all people of colour."

    "We don't just need a personal apology" - but a lawsuit payout would help(!)

    an apology for coloured people, $100,000,000,000,000 for me.


  30. Walter Brown

    I aim to please...

    I'm glad to be of service...

    people occasionally need a reality check...

    sometimes this reality check comes from pointing out the obvious to the oblivious...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So, uh... I'd really like to cash in on this too. Unfortunately, I'm Jewish. What color couches should I start buying? :)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put this into perspective

    Many Black people use the word 'nigger' as an affectionate term. Yes, it's an ugly word with a long history behind it of oppression and degradation, but some Black people now use it in friendly banter.

    But if a White person uses it, it's considered a crime. If you think about it, that itself is racist. We have words that only people of a certain ethnicity are permitted to use. Should these people be sued for offending my delicate sensibilities?

    Some time ago, a similar problem occurred on television. A man by the name of Niger Ennis was speaking, and there was a caption that identified him as "Nigger Ennis".

    Shit happens. People fuck up. Get over it and move on.

    Personally, I was deeply traumatized as a child by those tags that say it is illegal to remove them. Well, I *did* it, and thus began my life of crime...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Engrish happens

    Engrish happens. Get with the program and laugh along, it's a brave new world, open up. This is not the first time where something offensive appears on a tag due to an error or typo in translation.

    Unless that lady was trying to pull off the same thing mentioned in the Wierd Al song "I'll Sue Ya". In that case, she deserves to be countersued.

    On a more humorous note, at least it didn't appear as "Nigel Blown".

  34. Tricia Pulley

    How Ridiculous!

    If it were my family and we found a tag like that on our furniture, I would have returned the couch, complained and accepted the apology from the company that mistranslated (or misspelled) the word. And yes, even though I am caucasian, I do find the "N" word deplorable. Why sue, if it really was an honest error? I saw a news story where this family was interviewed. I don't think I would have called the news media. It's unfortunate that her child had an exposure to this word in this fashion, but is that really worth a lawsuit?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guns don't kill people, labels do!

    I sincerely hope that this woman and her friends lose the case and are made liable for all legal costs. However, due to the ‘sue culture’ and the deep-seeded ‘race guilt’ that appears to be ever-present in many middle-class white people*, it is likely that she will win. And hopefully choke to death on her celebratory caviar.

    Boo-bloody-hoo, it’s a translation error, get over it. If it was intentional, then you may have grounds to sue, but IT WAS A MISTAKE. Also, it was a trans-language mistake, which makes it even more pathetic trying to sue. Soon every company will have to have a list of offensive words in every possible language and in every local dialect/slang, just in case it causes offence.

    * see the ‘outrage’ of a certain white UK figure dressing up as Nelson Mandela, and the pathetic “oh we can’t have Christmas carols at Christmas as it might offend non-Christians” bunch. What kind of ‘non-christians’ do you know? They must be an uptight bunch of twats, ’cos all the ‘non-christians’ I know are more tolerant of other people’s religions/cultures than their counterparts, and would never be offended by anything like that.

    A long and painful death to all of them.

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