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Post Reply Japan’s interpreters struggle to make sense of ‘Trumpese’
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Posted 2/17/17 , edited 2/18/17

As political leaders in Japan pay close attention to how U.S. President Donald Trump will go in office, so, too, are interpreters who have had a nightmarish experience translating his disjointed speeches.

“He rarely speaks logically, and he only emphasizes one side of things as if it were the absolute truth. There are lots of moments when I suspected his assertions were factually dubious,” said Chikako Tsuruta, who routinely covers Trump-related news as an interpreter for CNN, ABC and CBS.

“He is so overconfident and yet so logically unconvincing that my interpreter friends and I often joke that if we translated his words as they are, we would end up making ourselves sound stupid,” Tsuruta, who is also a professor of interpreting and translation studies at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, said in a recent interview.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/17/national/japans-interpreters-struggle-to-make-sense-of-trump-speeches/#.WKe0sW8rIdU



I think most of us have a hard time making sense of the man
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Posted 2/17/17
Welcome to our world Japan
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/19/17
Learn English? Why is Japanese Government wasting School kids' time if they never actually use it? Trump makes perfect sense; after all, is like using 5th grade reading lvl.

Need help? Me needs immigration visa to Japan, so.....

EDIT: I figured out the problem of this article, why I don't read Japan Times much...


She still remembers the dread she felt as she was translating live Trump’s victory speech on Nov. 9, when the president-elect — apropos of nothing — made a reference to “Reince” and “secretariat” without spelling out who and what they are.

“When he suddenly said ‘Reince is a superstar,’ I was literally thrown off. Only after the camera zoomed in on the face of a ‘Reince’ did I realize who Trump was talking about, and I hastily added, for the sake of the audience, that it’s actually ‘Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman,’ ” Hibi said.

“The convenient thing about the Japanese language, however, is that it tends to do away with a subject in a sentence, so in this particular case, I first translated ‘superstar’ without clarifying who Trump was referring to, and carried on like this until I got a fuller picture.”

But she wasn’t so lucky with “secretariat,” which she mistakenly thought was Trump’s alternate way of referring to Reince.

“I mistranslated that one,” Hibi said. “It didn’t even occur to me that he was talking about a race horse. … It’s really hard to follow his train of thought.”



This translator is unskilled, and thus is blaming Trump for her lack of American History Knowledge. Clearly if you have been following the Presidential campaign, u would know "Reince" refers to the RNC chairman. Also, u would know Secretariat is most famous Triple Crown winner; used as a metaphor to compare to a race.


So, don't blame Trump because ur a noob, Japan......
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17
yeah, ive spoken english all my life and i still dont understand half of what he says. sometimes i wonder if hes a downy kid. his worrd choices sound like hes not right in the head or is used to speaking a foreign language. like he doesnt understand america (for lack of a better term.)
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17

nemoskull wrote:

yeah, ive spoken english all my life and i still dont understand half of what he says. sometimes i wonder if hes a downy kid.



He may use 5th grade reading lvl, but his language composition is 13+. The problem is, many people (and they probably don't like) have too little short-term mental memory to analyze. Once u figure it out, his speechcraft is far better then Obama.

And that's why he won...
Posted 2/18/17

TheGrandAlliance wrote:
Learn English? Why is Japanese Government wasting School kids' time if they never actually use it? Trump makes perfect sense; after all, is like using 5th grade reading lvl.


It isn't so much that the translator is a "noob" as it is the progression of Trump's logic that doesn't necessarily meet the standards of English that are taught in Japan (which are usually a bit more strict than what we, in America, focus on in academia). Because of Trump's "word salad" (randomly throwing in unnecessary words or words that do not align with the progression of the sentence), it would be difficult to translate. Translating isn't something that's easy to do. Even as someone who speaks Japanese fluently (I'm an American, born and raised), I would struggle to translate some phrases to/from Japanese because of how the sentence structure fails when slang comes into play (on both sides).

Though, I would say that (having read the article) that the translator should have done more studying around Trump and his picks. The issue is that she wasn't all that invested in the process and was just asked to translate (which is the life of a translator).
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17

nemoskull wrote:

yeah, ive spoken english all my life and i still dont understand half of what he says. sometimes i wonder if hes a downy kid. his worrd choices sound like hes not right in the head or is used to speaking a foreign language. like he doesnt understand america (for lack of a better term.)


'I am sorry?' I don't think your lack of understanding is do to his lack of communication, more than it is do to your lack of wanting to listen to what he has to say.


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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17

Darkphoenix3450 wrote:


nemoskull wrote:

yeah, ive spoken english all my life and i still dont understand half of what he says. sometimes i wonder if hes a downy kid. his worrd choices sound like hes not right in the head or is used to speaking a foreign language. like he doesnt understand america (for lack of a better term.)


'I am sorry?' I don't think your lack of understanding is do to his lack of communication, more than it is do to your lack of wanting to listen to what he has to say.




its his word choices. like sometimes hes not sure if hes high class or ghetto talk. its hard to place. and mostly its his tweets, not acutal spoken words.
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Posted 2/18/17

nemoskull wrote:


Darkphoenix3450 wrote:


nemoskull wrote:

yeah, ive spoken english all my life and i still dont understand half of what he says. sometimes i wonder if hes a downy kid. his worrd choices sound like hes not right in the head or is used to speaking a foreign language. like he doesnt understand america (for lack of a better term.)


'I am sorry?' I don't think your lack of understanding is do to his lack of communication, more than it is do to your lack of wanting to listen to what he has to say.




its his word choices. like sometimes hes not sure if hes high class or ghetto talk. its hard to place. and mostly its his tweets, not acutal spoken words.


As a fellow New Yorker I let you in on a little secret, Its NY talk. Its how a lot of us talk, you get used to it if you hang with us New Yorkers for a bit.
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/19/17

ninjitsuko wrote:

It isn't so much that the translator is a "noob" as it is the progression of Trump's logic that doesn't necessarily meet the standards of English that are taught in Japan (which are usually a bit more strict than what we, in America, focus on in academia).



Again, it means they're noob. Language is more then academics, it is reflection of "the soul", or whatever. Japanese people know this, core part of their culture and "indirect meaning". All I see is an arrogant Japanese (to which "gaijin" are accused thereof) who is blaming Trump, and not herself, for lack of American literary dialect studies. This like me saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn't make sense, cause all he seems to do is dodge real q's.

Of course, she is women, so figures. Self-responsibility; the lack thereof to admit defeat, what that is. Kinda like Trump, actually... Yet they claim to not understand him. Indeed, as they know him all too well...


No Japanese should be allowed to attempt to translate Trump until u have watched dozens, if not hundreds, of Trump press appearances. Even so, may not be enough. The stakes for Japanese politicians are too high to have noobs **** it up for them, it is so...
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17

TheGrandAlliance wrote:

No Japanese should be allowed to attempt to translate Trump until u have watched dozens, if not hundreds, of Trump press appearances. Even so, may not be enough. The stakes for Japanese politicians are too high to have noobs **** it up for them, it is so...


So maybe by the end of his first term Trump will have held the dozens of press conferences required to translate him?

*Edit: Seems like the article isn't so much about translators having trouble understanding what he's saying as it is them worrying that their translations will look bad when he's speaking bullshit.
Posted 2/18/17

TheGrandAlliance wrote:
No Japanese should be allowed to attempt to translate Trump until u have watched dozens, if not hundreds, of Trump press appearances. Even so, may not be enough. The stakes for Japanese politicians are too high to have noobs **** it up for them, it is so...


This isn't how translation works, sorry to burst your bubble. Trump isn't so special that someone needs to commit to days of watching his press conferences, speeches while on the campaign trail, and so forth. At most, you're meant to do a little bit of background digging so you know key references that the person may make (for example, when I speak to my company's Japanese partner's executive team I know they're going to mention specific infrastructure, features they want in the software, and so forth - so I know their business practice, what their customers do, and why they'd want certain features). This doesn't mean that you take 8+ days to gain some background insight - it's more about 2-5 hours.

Politics may be more critical in key scenarios. However, because Trump speaks in a rather illiterate tone and performs a significant amount of word salad - it would be difficult for any language to properly translate him. In fact, you'd find that most translators struggle with his nonsensical range of communication. He'll jump from topic to topic without any direct correlation (as such in the last press conference - he went from speaking about the leaks to media being dishonest to his election - without any correlation between them). Translation is an art as much as it is a skill. When the source material is horrible, you're not going to get much out of it.

For Trump is boils down to his lack of correlation between topics and his tone. His tone and arrogance is unknown in a lot of societies - it's not tactful, it's not honest, nor is it genuine. These things make translation near impossible.
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Posted 2/18/17

qwueri wrote:

So maybe by the end of his first term Trump will have held the dozens of press conferences required to translate him?


No, because if u add up all the campaign rally speeches and the like, he has already talked for hundreds/thousands of hours. They all on YouTube, go watch. Me already have.

I have watched ~%80 of everything he said last 2 years. Exception was time I was in Japan last year, missed some. Once u seen enough, it makes sense.
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Posted 2/18/17

TheGrandAlliance wrote:

No, because if u add up all the campaign rally speeches and the like, he has already talked for hundreds/thousands of hours. They all on YouTube, go watch. Me already have.

I have watched ~%80 of everything he said last 2 years. Exception was time I was in Japan last year, missed some. Once u seen enough, it makes sense.


I'm sure shaky phone camera videos on youtube over the crowd shouting "Lock her up" will be great for learning Trumpese.
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Posted 2/18/17 , edited 2/18/17

ninjitsuko wrote:
This isn't how translation works, sorry to burst your bubble. Trump isn't so special that someone needs to commit to days of watching his press conferences, speeches while on the campaign trail, and so forth.


Uhm, yes he is special, he is leader of most powerful country of the History of the Planet. The President of the United States of America. So unless 'dem Japs want more Hiroshimas, they'd better get on board.


ninjitsuko wrote:
At most, you're meant to do a little bit of background digging so you know key references that the person may make. This doesn't mean that you take 8+ days to gain some background insight - it's more about 2-5 hours.


Not knowing who Reince Prebius is, on a victory speech thanking his team, is a noob translator. Not knowing classic post-WW2 American Cultural History, is noob lvl of American English skill. Not understanding what is considered the vocabulary of "Americanisms", and being tasked to high stakes translation, is noob. If you don't get what he is saying, that is your professional failure as a translator, not the subject of Translation.


ninjitsuko wrote:
Politics may be more critical in key scenarios. However, because Trump speaks in a rather illiterate tone and performs a significant amount of word salad - it would be difficult for any language to properly translate him. In fact, you'd find that most translators struggle with his nonsensical range of communication. He'll jump from topic to topic without any direct correlation (as such in the last press conference - he went from speaking about the leaks to media being dishonest to his election - without any correlation between them). Translation is an art as much as it is a skill. When the source material is horrible, you're not going to get much out of it.


That is because "academic elitists" are not nearly as smart as they claim to be, or they wouldn't be bitching. Trump uses "cluster language", something they don't get. Don't attempt to translate word-for-word. He talks about ideas in grammatical phrases, and strings them together. If, instead u stop trying a literal translation of everything, and instead focus of implied meaning of each sentence and translate that, /easymode

It is like a computer data compression: It assumes u understand the algorithm being used to unpack and execute code. Trump supporters get it, that is why they like him so much. But liberal elitists are, indeed not as "elite" as they claim. Their abundant lack if scope on linguistic theory is not broad enough to be able to dechiper code. So they whine and complain alot.


ninjitsuko wrote:
For Trump is boils down to his lack of correlation between topics and his tone. His tone and arrogance is unknown in a lot of societies - it's not tactful, it's not honest, nor is it genuine. These things make translation near impossible.


Tone, may be indeed non-polite, but Japanese has plenty of room for that. Causative form Japanese. So no matter...


Perhaps some examples are in order. I will get u noobs to understand Trumpism, in no time...
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