Interestingly, part of the reason that, until now, Trump has been supported in Russia is due to translation. If you read the Russian language papers like I do, you’ll notice that the Russian translators don’t verbatim copy what Trump says. Instead, they’ll translate what he’s saying into short, professional, statesman-like statements, instead of what he really says. So instead of “I think nuclear weapons should be way down, and reduced, that’s part of it.”, the Russian audience gets a statement that translates back into English as “I think we’ll start with a substantial decrease in nuclear weapons stockpiles.” When Trump calls something “dumb” or “sad”, the Russian press will have him call it “damned”. “Bad hombres” becomes “armed bandits” and so on.
The Russian support for Trump becomes a lot easier to understand when you realize they’re literally not listening to the same person we are.
It’s really weird to see translation add nuance to a politician’s talk rather than take it away, but this makes so much sense.
this is a genuine problem for practically all translators right now.
But some interpreters, like Tsuruta, are concerned that translating the U.S. president too accurately might reflect badly on them. Alina Cincan, a Romanian interpreter and translator, tells Newsweek: “He’s not known for his eloquence nor his diplomacy. Either you translate exactly what he says which means it’ll be repetitive and sometimes gibberish—you’ll be saying ‘tremendous’, ‘very’ or ‘great’ a lot, or you try to make some sense out of it and ‘beautify’ it. If you choose the former, some may judge your interpreting abilities as poor, whereas if you choose the latter, you’ll make him sound better.”
‘Make America big again’? The headache of translating Trump into foreign languages.
“Most of the time, when he speaks he seems not to know quite where he’s going,” Viennot said. “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.”
She is left with a dilemma: either translate Trump exactly as he speaks — and let French readers struggle with the content — or keep the content, but smooth out the style, “so that it is a little bit more intelligible, leading non-English speakers to believe that Trump is an ordinary politician who speaks properly.”