Translating Trump- Lost in Translation

Translating Trump- Lost in Translation

Translation/Interpretation has always been challenging. This challenge has been doubled when it comes to linguistic(cultural barriers tripled with a personal zest of modern day manners and individuals. This why interpreters are thriving in the booth to translate Trump and still not be the one give the bad news “Hey guys let’s go to war!”. Still, apart from his manners challenging everyone in the world in an incoherent manner, his inappropriate manners are social media’s new baby, while it has become the worst nightmare of interpreters and translators alike. Translators are divided whether to tone done, render respectable or just translate all the controversial rhetoric of Trump.

You are in such a good physical shape!

When Trump called Emmanuel Macron’s wife “You are in such a good physical shape!”, french translators were already worried about reactions and out of the struggle for the right words which turned out to be “vous êtes en grande forme” which would remain more respectable in social circles.

Grab them by the pussy!

Think of a culture shaped by strict rules for respect and now let them struggle with Trumpish. How can you translate when he talks about women and his phrases are like:”grab them by the pussy!” when you do not have an exact equivalent in Japanese, plus add that you are a woman who wants to punch on his face.

What the hell is going on here!

Seems to be the most innocent phrase uttered by Trump. Yes, still what happens when you do not have the equivalent of it in such a culture as Arabic who is highly conservative and abstain from anything related to bad, even in their utterances?


One of the challenges occurred when the report in which Trump called ex-FBI Director James Comey “a real nut job!” How to translate it into Japanese and still make sure it is broadcastable on screen? They have tried “henjin” which meant an oddball or eccentric, while the alternative phrase “atama ga warui” would not have been appropriate.


Trump’s fury in speech is not a secret. Still, the road to make him sing in translation is the hardest job ever. What do you do when he repeats like he prays “sh-hole”. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, came up with toned down alternatives, while for some others the question was more about “which hole?”

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