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Translating Trump’s speeches

January 23, 2017

According to translator Bérengère Viennot, the highly non-linear speeches of Trump, particularly his ad-libbed and extemporaneous remarks present particular challenges to translation.

“Trump is not easy to translate, first of all, because, most of the time, when he speaks he seems not to know quite where he’s going. In my essay, I took the example of the interview he gave to The New York Times. 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.”

Lost in Trumpslation: An Interview with Bérengère Viennot

“Je ne traduis pas des mots, je traduis des pensées. Des situations, des personnalités, des moments. Et j’emballe tout cela dans un vocabulaire, un champ sémantique qui en français devra créer chez le lecteur la même impression, la même réflexion que celles qui ont été suscitées chez le lecteur d’origine. Dans le cas d’Obama, c’était plutôt simple: la pensée est claire, le message précis et maîtrisé, le vocabulaire châtié, la syntaxe impeccable. Paradoxalement, la pensée de Trump qui est beaucoup plus creuse et qui tourne souvent autour du même sujet (dans le cas de cette interview, sa victoire), est bien plus compliquée à rendre. En cassant les codes du discours, en utilisant un vocabulaire limité et une syntaxe hachée et décousue, cet homme politique (si si, on est bien obligé de lui accorder ce statut maintenant) force le traducteur, il ME force, à réviser, à réduire et à appauvrir mon champ sémantique de travail.”

Pour les traducteurs, Trump est un casse-tête inédit et désolant

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2017 7:25 am

    For the Spanish language media in the United States, parsing Trump’s anti-immigration, pro-sexual assault discourse has its own challenges. How, for example, does one translate a turn of phrase so specifically nonconsensual, so particularly gross, as “grab her by the pussy?”….

    Translating rude words aside, reporters like [Juliana] Jimenez have thought carefully about presenting Trump’s sexist rhetoric in the Spanish spoken by their audiences, which for Univision ranges from millennials who get their news from a variety of sources to bilingual professionals who regularly travel between the US and Latin America, to Spanish-speaking households for whom Univision’s television channels is their primary source for information and education.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/11/07/comment-translating-trump-spanish-speaking-americans?

  2. January 24, 2017 7:49 am

    Pourquoi des oreilles? Elles symbolisent des oreilles de chat, d’où le surnom de «pussy hats» pour ces bonnets: un jeu de mots autour de «pussy cats», reprenant le mot «pussy», qui signifie à la fois «minou» et «chatte» dans son sens sexuel.

    C’est ce mot «pussy» que Donald Trump a utilisé dans la vidéo qui avait fait scandale en octobre, où il se vantait de pouvoir se payer les femmes qu’il voulait et de les «attraper par la chatte».

    http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2017/01/19/le-bonnet-rose-a-oreilles-de-chat-symbole-des-femmes-contre-trump_1542610

    Le “grab by the pussy” de Donald Trump très détourné à la #WomansMarchParis #WomansMarch

    http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2017/01/21/la-marche-des-femmes-contre-donald-trump-a-washington-en-passe/

  3. January 28, 2017 7:11 am

    Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, eliminated much of Trump’s rambling in its account, which translated roughly to, “She likely wasn’t allowed to give a statement.” CNN Japan went even further in its translation, “It could be she wasn’t allowed to speak.” The result, Kaku said, turned the rambling, unframed implication into a much clearer accusation.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/01/23/make-america-big-again-the-headache-of-translating-trump-into-foreign-languages/

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