A French Interpreter Has Revealed Why Translating Trump Is Such A Task

Despite braggadociously claiming he knows how to translate bigly, this translator finds it a yuge task to interpret the POTUS

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Interpreting can be tricky business.

There are a lot of things to consider when interpreting from one language to the next, have you ever seen Arrival?

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Complicated stuff.

Even the flipping bible is littered with mistranslations.

But imagine if your subject started sentences without any clear indicator of where he was going, jumped from topic to topic haphazardly and regularly, on a whim, made up words.

Michael Scott | ELLE UK JAN 2017
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French translator Bérengère Viennot spoke to the LARB about the difficulties of interpreting Trump-talk as well as the joy of rewriting Obama's speeches in French.

She said of translating POTUS number 44, 'Translating Obama was a real intellectual joy. His thought was clear and his vocabulary was rich enough that it allowed me to write beautiful sentences that could vary ever so subtly according to the tone of his discourse.'

A big part of the process of translating, Viennot explained, was the ability to get inside the original orator's head to understand context, tone, humour and so on.

So far, she has found Trump to be a struggle,

He seems to hang onto a word in the question, or to a word that pops into his mind, repeating it over and over again. He shapes his thought around it and, sometimes, succeeds in giving part of an answer — often the same answer: namely, that he won the election. Trump seems to go from point A (the question) to point B (himself, most of the time) with no real logic. It's as if he had thematic clouds in his head that he would pick from with no need of a logical thread to link them.

Viennot was super critical of Trump's assertion that he 'knows words' and has 'the best words', by explaining;

Trump's vocabulary is limited, his syntax is broken; he repeats the same phrases over and over, forcing the translator to follow suit. If she does not, she betrays the spirit of the original piece. The translator has to translate the content and the style. So that is what I do, and reading Trump in French, which is a very structured and logical language, reveals the poor quality of his language and, consequently, of his thought.

We believe the phrase is 'burn'?!

Clinton | ELLE UK JAN 2017
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Whether or not you agree with this translator's politics, it's got to be said, it seems like a hell of a job.

She essentially has to decide whether to ascertain meaning in the sake of tone or tone in the sake of meaning when translating him.

Perhaps she should call whoever translated Bush to help her out, people misunderestimated him too.

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