Such is the plight of foreign language interpreters and translators who have wrestled with statements by Donald Trump in his bid for the US presidency. His NSFW language, malapropisms, chants in B flat and twisted logic have perplexed translators around the world.
Trump’s rhetoric is notorious for being vague and evasive, but the haziness is often lost in translation. “A wink and a nudge from head to Artioli-shod toe, he exhales a cloud of words in which listeners see their chosen shape.“ This is how Tokyo-based freelance writer and translator Agnes Kaku described Trump’s rhetorical style on LinkedIn.
Much has been made of Trump’s comments in the Access Hollywood video about making advances on a woman without her consent. Trump dismissed the comments as “locker talk,“ but foreign language translations of the lewd banter have only made the remarks sound worse.
According to Victor Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, the sentence, “I moved on her like a bitch, and I could not get there, and she was married,“ became “Wǒ xiàng zhuī biǎozi yīyàng zhuī tā, dàn méi néng chénggōng,“ on people.cn, which means: “I pursued her like a whore / prostitute / harlot / strumpet, but I couldn’t succeed.“
根据宾夕法尼亚大学中文教授Victor Mair的介绍，原句是“I moved on her like a bitch, and I could not get there, and she was married“被人民网翻成了“我像追婊子一样追她，但没能成功。“
Instead of “I moved on her like a bitch,“ News.sina.com had Trump saying, “Wǒ duì tā cǎiqǔle qiángliè de jìngōng,“ or “I made a strong attack on her.“
新浪网则把特朗普说的“I moved on her like a bitch“翻成了“我对她展开了强烈的攻势。“
Another news site translated the sentence into, “Wǒ xiàng duìdài dàngfù yīyàng kàojìn tā,“ or “I treated her like a slut to get close to her,“ Mair wrote on the blog Language Log.
Translators say they often dodge Trump’s crude language altogether, either because they have no choice or to get around internal censors.
Odd but telling words like “bigly“ and “braggadocious“ caught Spanish translators so off-guard that they skipped right over them, according toAida González del Álamo, who translated Hillary Clinton in the debates.
在辩论中翻译希拉里发言的Aida González del álamo表示，对于西语翻译者来说，像“bigly“(大发了)和“braggadocious“(牛逼哄哄)这样罕见的词，他们翻译的时候只能跳过去。
In another example, Chinese translators interpreted the word “pussy,“ which does not have a direct translation in Chinese, as: “Nǐ xiǎng zěnme zuò dōu xíng, bāokuò mō tāmen de yǐnsī bùwèi,“ or “You can do whatever you want, including touching / feeling / stroking / groping their private parts.“
In some ways, Trump’s habit of interrupting has also worked in his favor. One of his shortest and most mocked utterances—“Wrong!“—couldn’t be directly translated into “Eso no es correcto“ in Spanish because it took too long to say. To be quicker, the translator used “Es falso,“ or “That is not true,“ which inadvertently sounded more polite.
在某些方面，特朗普喜欢插嘴的毛病似乎帮了他的忙。他用得最短也是被吐槽最多的一个词就是：“错了！“，但是这个词没有办法被翻译成西语的“Eso no es correcto“，因为在西语里这个词太长了。为了更快速的翻译，译员们就用“Es falso“(那不是真的）来代替，这样听起来就有礼貌多了==