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Japanese news program criticized for translating Lady Gaga’s protest message as 'I hate Trump'

66 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

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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66 Comments
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Yeah, that was a pretty awful translation error.

18 ( +27 / -9 )

Japan is very anti-Trump, so, not surprised.

-21 ( +9 / -30 )

there are worse translations than that, and the worse: they persist, specially in those "Cool Japan" shows. Foreigner: yeah, we kinda have something similar back home, creative though. Japanese captions: omg that's unbelievable!!!! that's how you do in Japan?? The japanese are very clever!! etc

They also make a point of inserting the word "日本" to every single line when praising something when in reality the person is talking about the guy or the shop. yuck.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is very anti-Trump, so, not surprised.

I don't think so. The Japanese people have very little choice. They are told who to like and who not to like according to the news filters and stupid talk show hosts that have little to no knowledge about world affairs or the state of their own country.

25 ( +32 / -7 )

since1981NOV. 14, 2016 - 02:39PM JST

Japan is very anti-Trump, so, not surprised.

'Anti-Trump' is a misnomer - how could any sane person like someone who has all the traits we dislike about a person? So Japan like most other people in the world simply 'do not like' Trump.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

“Toranpu ga kirai,”

This story author has translated the translation back into English as "I hate Trump" but it doesn't actually say that, IMO.

In the image - it says “toranpu wa kirai”. (I'd translate that back into English as "Trump hates" - so perhaps the Japanese translation of the original English seems OK to me.)

-17 ( +4 / -21 )

"Love trumps hate" is definitely one of those phrases which cannot be translated without a long explanation of its meaning.

With that said, yes, this is a pretty crappy translation job. It's like the translator was thinking "What a pain in the @ss to translate into a few words... oh well, no one in Japan is going to know it's not perfect anyway, so here it goes..."

It's a tough job, but "I hate trump" is a little too rough I must say.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Not surprising coming from Nitter, likely the worst channel on Japanese TV. Although am not sure how the other networks would have translated that..

Even worse would be if they read it as "love Trump's hate"

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Jesus that's an abysmal translation. I'd say that they can't possibly so dumb as to genuinely believe that's how it should be translated and that they were doing it on purpose, but then again, we are talking about Japanese people dealing with Eng-Jap translation here...

0 ( +9 / -9 )

In the image - it says “toranpu wa kirai”. (I'd translate that back into English as "Trump hates" - so perhaps the Japanese translation of the original English seems OK to me.)

I'm inclined to agree. 'toranpu ha kira' could actually be 'I hate Trump' as well, but with an absence of context, 'Trump hates' seems more likely to me.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

The worst pain in the ass when working as a translator in Japan. Having to explain to the monolingual/monocultural japanese that translation isn't an exact science. You deliver the file, they google translate it back to japanese and waste your time making you explain sentence by sentence. "Hey , what happened to the お世話になっております?” sigh....

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Pity the poor translator, probably told to produce a translation on the spot - Come on, it's only three words, can't be that difficult!'

It is that difficult though, and then some.

I don't usually do E-J, but I think I would go with something like, 愛憎の切り札は愛 or 愛は憎みに勝る or 憎みより断トツに愛を, but all of those are quite literal and completely miss out on the word play. I don't think it's possible to include all the nuances and flavours of these three little words and the emotions behind them without writing a short essay. :-)

I'm normally one of the first to throw stones when a poor translation raises its ugly head, but I think the Nippon TV translator needs to be cut a bit of slack here.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Spot on cleo! I would definitely use the "愛は憎みに勝る" adding a small "トランプ" furigana on the top of "憎み".

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Spot on cleo! I would definitely use the "愛は憎みに勝る" adding a small "トランプ" furigana on the top of "憎み".

I agree, except the トランプ would go over 勝る.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Lost in translation or not, Lady Gaga and Donald J Trump is hardly a close association of warmth and intimacy that would be reminiscent of a screen from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's not remotely necessary to translate the punnage contained in the slogan. If Japanese people want to enjoy the full depth of layered wordplay they can take a literature course. We all know its real intended message, equivalent to "love overcomes hate". "I hate Trump," isn't merely a mistranslation, it's a completely false reporting that does nothing to show the purpose of the protest. This translation was a hackjob, pure and simple.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

that's right, typo ;p

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I love the idea of the furigana!

I don't think there's any typo, though: putting the furigana over 勝る would work OK, but putting it over the 憎み would add a whole new depth to the nuance and, I think, be closer to the feeling of 'Love Trumps Hate'.

Well done, that bird. :-)

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Is she the one who said eat radiation food for recovery in tohuko?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Looks like they CAN read her po-po-po-poker face.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The original meaning was lost in translation but as a Japanese I would say that in this instance the translator was right to provide a simple and easy to understand translation. Translating the complex nuance may be too difficult for some of us Japanese to grasp. We see this with Hollywood films. The Japanese subtitles are always somewhat different from the original script.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Although am not sure how the other networks would have translated that..

Actually I was watching NewsZero at that time YTV and they had the desciption Cleo used above. Granted the people who work at NewsZero have more knowledge of English as they regularly broadcast live segments from abroad and do interviews in ACTUAL english without a translator.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

well, we can see the wider problem when we read tiger-tanakas post: seems its fine for the japanese to be given misleading info, so long as its easy to understand!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I have to admit I am probably ten years, probably a lifetime away from getting to grips with Cleo, Strangerland, Thunderbird & co language skills. Until this point Furigana if I didn't just learn otherwise, could have been a delicious sounding cake with my mid-morning coffee.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

well, we can see the wider problem when we read tiger-tanakas post: seems its fine for the japanese to be given misleading info, so long as its easy to understand!

The members on this forum tend to be highly educated individuals with an abundance of international experience but please put yourself in the shoes of the average Japanese person who does not travel more than several kilometers beyond his village, has little to no experience travelling abroad and does not understand cultural differences and nuances. As unusual as it may seem gaikoku or the foreign land as you may say can be incredibly intimidating for us Japanese. The original meaning is lost but it still conveys the same message. Simplicity and easy to understand is important to us otherwise it will raise too many questions.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

OK you bigshot translators. Let's see your rendering of:

"I am indifferent to the ancient Trump Steaks that I found whilst cleaning out the icebox. Coo coo kachoo! I am walrus."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who cares what Gaga thinks about politics? Having a slew of gormless celebs on her side didn't help Hilliary.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

"having a slew of gormless celebs"

That must be a very pricey restaurant. Are the celebs better without gorm?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Japanese spoken by the narrator, “Toranpu ga kirai,” is one of those pretty clear-cut translation cases,

Even here, I don't find it that clear cut. Without context, I'd have put it closer to "dislike" than "hate". But perhaps I'm out of touch with English, where the word "hate" is used so casually these days (if you don't like you're a hater).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

albaleo has a point. Cultural differences that can't be explained in just a few words X busy story-hungry editors pressing you to translate it on spot in a tiny room full of tv sets with 3,4 other people. Been in the same situation. "Sorry but I can't make this shorter." "There is no equivalent to japanese" "You would have to explain it to the audience before showing this" - the people there would think you're making up excuses or you simply can't translate. So what's the option in these few seconds given? whatever, "I hate Trump".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Love Overcomes Hate". just what exactly is the problem? The japanese cant handle it???

7 ( +11 / -4 )

If you don't understand what the slogan mean then you'll end up translating it wrongly. Love Trump Hate meaning Love overcome/surpass/defeat hate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When I first saw Lady Ga Ga's sign I thought " "wait a minute, I thought she was against Trump?" Wouldn't "hate trumps love" made more sense considering he won? I think the translator just read between the lines so to speak.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Only recently we had a survey in JT asking if "machine translation" would one day be as good as "human translation"... In this particular case, neither ! But I still think "human translation" would be, generally, much more "correct" than that of a machine. (Generally, machines can't "think"...)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

lady gaga probably voted for trump. dont believe these hollywood "artists" - theyre all scammers.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I think Cleo & Thunderbirds translation is spot on.

"I hate Trump" is way, way off the mark - even without the trump pun. It seems like Love was equated with GaGa (I) and Trumps = Trump and Hate = well err...Hate - so it must mean "I hate Trump".

And altho media translation must be a tough game - if you don't know, don't stab wildly esp if it directly involves peoples thoughts, ideas and opinions.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't envy simultaneous translators, TOUGH job for sure!

That said the person who translated was either not up to the task, lazy, or didn't care OR just MISSED IT, again not an easy job to do.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not just Japanese media only. Some writers here wrote in Japanese that is wrong. The above Japanese translated in English, Love supercedes hatred. you wrote in Your kind of Japanese ... meaning Japanese misunderstands what you are telling.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Some writers here wrote in Japanese that is wrong. The above Japanese translated in English, Love supercedes hatred.

That's what 'Love trumps hate' means Toshiko. 'Trumps' is a word that means 'beats', 'wins against' or supersedes.

So thank you for confirming that the translation was accurate, even though you didn't realize it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

. The original meaning is lost but it still conveys the same message. Simplicity and easy to understand is important to us otherwise it will raise too many questions.

You are right that simplicity might be more effective, but NOT if the meaning is lost. For example if I said, For me, American food Trumps Japanese Food, and you translated it into 和食は嫌い it might be offensive, and cause bad relationships.

My Japanese is more simple than the above posters, so for your 'simple is best' we could chose something like 嫌いより愛 

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The real lesson here and the point to be made is always distrust the biased and self serving MEDIA .

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@stranger, I was criticizing Cree.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Striving for simplicity in translation is fine, but not if it completely distorts the original meaning.

In this case, just translate it to 'love overcomes hate', and let the word play on 'trump' be lost.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Any translator worth two coins could do a better job than that hack.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@stranger, I was criticizing Cree.

I assume you mean Cleo. But either way, her translation was right.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

トランプが何を嫌い?Besides Muslims, Mexicans. and TPP.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"If a single word has two meanings in English, each definition is likely to be a separate word in Japanese."

This seems to suggest that Japanese has a larger voucabulary than English. It is a misleading sentence.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What Lady Gaga thinks or does has little bearing on reality....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Because different expressions made by illiterate people many. Supporters. create own instead of purchasing. But some people buy as souvenirs. I think Gaga was with Clinton supporters Rally..

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Does it really matter what she said? She is a singer/entertainer - not a member of any think tanks (that I know of).

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This seems to suggest that Japanese has a larger voucabulary than English.

Not at all. It works both ways: if a single word has two meanings in Japanese, each definition is likely to be a separate word in English.

It doesn't mean that either language has a larger vocabulary than the other, simply that semantic borders are not exact, meanings overlap and expecting a single word in either language to exactly match the meaning and usage of a single word in the other language is rarely rewarding and can lead to weird translations.

eg 青い:Can be translated depending on context as blue; green; pale; pallid; immature; wet behind the ears.

恥ずかしい:disgraceful; ashamed; embarrassed; bashful: shy

明るい: bright, cheerful, happy, clean, well-lit, sunny, well-informed, knowledgeable

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The exact words of the the sign were "Love Trumps Hate"

It is a play on words that "love" will overcome the "hate" that Trump represents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are alot of things they take lightly here in Japan and translation is one of them You find very large companies display japlish when they could easily employ foreigners to do it. A good example example is Yamada denki with their slogan "For your just only" With the advent of free net translation the trend will only increase. On several occasions Japanese met me to help correct their translations which I do only for them to change it to whatever they thought was best thus messing up everything. People don't care and treat everyone else as fools that is why you find celebrities assigned to report on issues that they have no clue about or allowed to archor programs without an iota of journalistic knowledge.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

You are right that simplicity might be more effective, but NOT if the meaning is lost. For example if I said, For me, American food Trumps Japanese Food, and you translated it into 和食は嫌い it might be offensive, and cause bad relationships.

Lady Gaga was protesting against Trump. She does not support him and she doesn't like him. That's all the Japanese viewer needs to know. Why overcomplicate it? It is not exactly some great piece of literature. It's just a news bulletin that needs to inform the viewer what's going on. Life will always be easier for the gaikokujin living in Japan if they just accept simplicity.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

And Japanese has TONS of words that phonetically sounds the same but with wildly different meanings, I suspect there may be MORE wordplay in Japanese than English, but yes its certainly common to both!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

She does not support him and she doesn't like him.

But that is not what the sign said. It indicated why she does not support him - because he spouts hate. Don't you think that's an important part of the message?

That's all the Japanese viewer needs to know.

Are you suggesting that Japanese are too dim to understand 'complicated' messages?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

~~~~it means "Love is stronger than hate". Some phrases are not meant to be translated literally, news team did a terrible job in research.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Life will always be easier for the gaikokujin living in Japan if they just accept simplicity.

Is that why you always use phrases like "we Japanese think" and "us Japanese like"? Simplicity? That's a bit too simple for this gaikokujin living in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But that is not what the sign said. It indicated why she does not support him - because he spouts hate. Don't you think that's an important part of the message?

Japan is a country of fantasy. No one involves themselves in politics. Most do not feel qualified to have an opinion and most prefer not to engage in it. Yes there are the few who do but they are a minority. Don't you agree? On the day of the election not one of my colleagues uttered a single word regarding the election. People here prefer simple answers even if it may be inaccurate. So why bother giving them an explanation they did not ask for? I'm afraid your way of thinking is extremely westernized and contradicts the Japanese mind.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Most do not feel qualified to have an opinion

Maybe they feel that they're not getting the info they need to form an opinion?

On the day of the election not one of my colleagues uttered a single word regarding the election.

That tells us about you and the company you keep; it tells us nothing about 'we Japanese'.

why bother giving them an explanation they did not ask for?

If people are watching the news, I think I'd take that as an indication that they want to know what's going on?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That tells us about you and the company you keep; it tells us nothing about 'we Japanese'.

At my workplace there are over 50 people in my department of highly qualified people but most have not spent time living abroad extensively. I would think that they represent the Japanese very well.

If people are watching the news, I think I'd take that as an indication that they want to know what's going on?

While I admire your ideal view of Japan and your desire to see the best in people, the Japanese kokoro does not need enlightenment, we are quite content with what the masukomi feeds us. You have been in Japan for a long time and forgive me for jumping to conclusions but my ishindenshin tells me that perhaps deep down you agree with at least part of what I say.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I'm afraid your way of thinking is extremely westernized and contradicts the Japanese mind.

Yes, our countries communicate differently, BUT the translation was of Lady Gaga, an American. Her words should be translated into an easy to understand version of her thinking. Yes, there are people in every country that might not understand different views (like at least half who voted for Trump) but we cannot misquote people just to make it easy for the viewers. Japanese have every right to disagree with her, but not to distort her message.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The placards makers probably made this to sell for both candidates supporters. There are people. whose jobs aare going after any campaign office. And there are placards makers. That is why all placards are with same size. Less letters of name they prefer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At my workplace there are over 50 people in my department of highly qualified people but most have not spent time living abroad extensively. I would think that they represent the Japanese very well.

Just because they haven't lived abroad they know nothing and have no opinions? And if they know nothing how are they "highly-qualified"? My own highly-qualified workplace is full of opinionated people, and most of them haven't lived abroad.

While I admire your ideal view of Japan and your desire to see the best in people, the Japanese kokoro does not need enlightenment, we are quite content with what the masukomi feeds us. You have been in Japan for a long time and forgive me for jumping to conclusions but my ishindenshin tells me that perhaps deep down you agree with at least part of what I say.

What rubbish. And why do you keep writing decent English while throwing in random Japanese words that have perfectly logical translations?

In any case, you are wrong. There is a lot of discontent with the mass media and politics. The problem is there is also a lot of apathy and people think the system is too rotten to be fixed. How can you claim to speak for us when you obviously don't even check out japanese forums?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A pretty bad translation. The person/s who translated it did not (probably have time to) give it any thought at all.

@yakyak: The Japanese people have very little choice. They are told who to like and who not to like according to the news filters and stupid talk show hosts

Believe it or not, last Saturday I had a girl’s party with a bunch of J ladies. They “surprised” me by saying that though he was not someone they would have voted for Trump’s bad image had been tremendously inflated by the mass media and there was indeed a lot of performance on his side during the campaign. They continued by adding that there seems to be reason in what he wants for the American people. Did not sound like they were told to think so.

@igloobuyer: how could any sane person like someone who has all the traits we dislike about a person

Are you implying that over half of the Americans are insane?

@fxgai

I see what you are trying to explain. In many cases the use of “ga” and “wa” is more important in translating a phrase than many foreigners would care to admit. Cleo, Thunderbird and Strangerland seem to know better.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Then ringo means banana.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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