Donald Trump in translation

Today I mentioned Donald Trump’s speeches, and the difficulties they give to translators and interpreters around the world. One article on this topic is here:

“Interpreters say it’s nearly “impossible” to translate Donald Trump’s rhetoric into other languages”

This article links to a blog post by Agness Kaku on LinkedIn. (Remember, the new journalism means finding what other people have already reported and reformatting it!) In that piece, she talks about a Trump statement and the way it was translated into Japanese:

“[S]he probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me, but plenty of people have written that.” —Donald Trump on ABC News

「おそらく彼女は発言することを許されなかったのだろう」| “She likely wasn’t allowed to give a statement.” —NHK

「発言を許されていなかったのかもしれない」| “It could be she wasn’t allowed to speak.” —CNN Japan

Defensible? Absolutely. But it doesn’t tell the whole story, does it? And if Trump should backpedal from the comment, the translation will have to be enlarged to include those escape hatches he installed in the first place. When it comes to someone as accomplished as Trump is at committing himself to nothing, the current approach to translating his statements will only make it harder for those outside the English-speaking world to get an accurate picture of what the hell is going on with this runaway train of a presidential race.

As Kaku notes, “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say” is the only thing that made it into Japanese. But when Trump talks, he gives himself those “escape hatches”—ways to evade responsibility. (It wasn’t me who said it, it was all those other people whose argument I was repeating!)

Another article on the same subject is “Foreign reporters can’t translate him: Why Trump’s hyperbolic speech fascinates linguists.” Have a look!

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