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."
A Chinese software company, Kingsoft Corp., acknowledged its translation program was at fault. When the Chinese characters for "dark brown" are typed into an older version of its Chinese-English translation software, the offensive description comes up. (The program's 2007 version does not produce that result.) The software had been programmed with terms garnered from a Chinese-English dictionary.
Five years later, Kingsoft's crappy translation is apparently still causing intercontinental strife. Update your translation program, Chinese people.