So what does a large fashion company such as Vogue say about selling an item like “Slave earrings,” with a description that reads, “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.”?
For the full text of the original item description, see image to the right:
According to Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue blames it all on the translator, stating that, “We apologize for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English…The Italian word (Schiavo), which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into ‘ethnical style earrings’. Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website.”
However, as any Italian translator will tell you (or even Google Translate), ‘schiavo’ quite literally translates into ‘slave’, and in no way translates into ‘ethnical’. Besides, how do you explain the accompanying product description that clearly denotes the ‘slave-inspired’ style they were aiming for, (no accounting for taste or sensitivity, of course).
So clearly, the blame is not with the translator, as they were just doing their job. The blame would be with the fashion company’s writers who wrote the initial product description to begin with, and the company itself for exploiting human suffering for something as superficial as fashion. Hopefully they will come to their senses and take full responsibility for their callousness, and not blame the nameless, and faceless translator.
Are you a translator? How do you feel about this issue? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.