Sometimes, translation is an exact science. The Japanese word “ringo,” for example, becomes “apple” in English, and there’s really no room for debate on the matter.
However, you’ll also find plenty of gray areas. Take the word "kuu," for example, which means “eat,” but carries a rough, almost visceral emotion. Should you translate it as just “eat,” or would “devour,” “scarf,” or “chow down on” be more accurate equivalents? Translators often find themselves in the position of having to make judgement calls like this about what the most appropriate choice of words is, and this gets even trickier when clever wordplay is involved. If a single word has two meanings in English, each definition is likely to be a separate word in Japanese.
So one can appreciate that the translators working for Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television’s news every. program were faced with a challenge regarding a report, which aired on November 9, about protests in the U.S. following the election of Donald Trump. A segment of the report featured footage of musician Lady Gaga holding up a sign bearing the words “Love trumps hate,” a popular rallying cry of the anti-Trump camp. It’s a multilayered phrase, referencing the president elect’s surname, the homonym which means “to overcome,” and a proclamation of the power of universal compassion.
So how did the narration accompanying the footage on news every. describe the message for its Japanese-speaking audience?
“Written on the placard held by Lady Gaga was the message ‘I hate Trump.’”
The Japanese spoken by the narrator, “Toranpu ga kirai,” is one of those pretty clear-cut translation cases, with "kirai" being the Japanese word for “hate.” The report then went on to show the musician shouting “Love trumps hate,” from inside her car, which was accompanied by on-screen Japanese subtitles again rendering the statement as “I hate Trump.”
While some might argue that this blunt translation cuts straight to the chase, it does so by cutting out quite a bit of the intended sentiment. English-savvy Internet users in Japan were quick to post online comments asking just what happened to the “love” specifically mentioned in the original English message. Fans of Lady Gaga’s social causes also took issue with assigning a statement to the singer that has such an aggressive, divisive tone.
Nippon Television has not issued a statement specifying whether the unusual rendering was a purposefully loose translation or an honest yet embarrassing mistake.
Source: Yahoo! Japan News/J-Cast News via Jin
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