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How to Translate Donald Trump

How do you translate a word salad? That’s one question the rise of Donald Trump has interpreters and translators around the world asking themselves. The National Post called the reality TV personality, businessman and US presidential candidate [actual real-life President of the United States now, no really!] “a linguist’s dream” for his “unusual” speech patterns.  I suppose that’s one way to put it.

In this case, a linguist’s dream is an interpreter’s nightmare.  Trump is known for long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness rants that don’t always make sense in English. He’s also prone to (perhaps accidentally) reviving obscure, old words like “braggadocious” and “bigly.”

But, there’s a possibility Trump could become the next president of the United States. So, his speeches are international news. And that means foreign interpreters and translators get to parse sentences like this beauty, from a speech he gave in South Carolina: Read more

Translating Trump, Part 3: How to Insult Developing Countries in 10 Different Languages

Once again, the President of the United States is making translators’ lives difficult. Last week, they faced a new dilemma – how to translate President Trump’s preferred epithet for certain developing countries. 

Even American newscasters had problems figuring out how to handle the profanity. But news organizations in other countries had an even bigger problem on their hands. How do you translate what President Trump allegedly said accurately in a language that doesn’t have a direct equivalent? And how do you balance accuracy in translation with differing levels of cultural acceptance of profanity?   Read more