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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.

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Interpreter Chikako Tsuruta, on the difficulty in translating U.S. President Donald Trump's disjointed speeches. (Japan Times)

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Joining in on the Trump Bash Bandwagon?

-13 ( +13 / -25 )

Joining in on the Trump Bash Bandwagon?

The truth hurts.

13 ( +23 / -11 )

Great leaders are great communicators. Trump is neither.

In his defense, he's very cunning: he knows that by speaking 'disjointedly' he can be more effective at manipulating his followers while at the same time being able to say his words were taken out of context by his distractors.

Remember, this is a man who's overseen all sorts of schemes and con games in his quest for wealth and power.

5 ( +13 / -9 )

she's right

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Great leaders are great communicators. Trump is neither.

He is obviously not communicating to you.

-9 ( +7 / -17 )

Chikako sama, Maybe you should go back to school and brush up on your translation skills because thats the way half of Americans speak.

-16 ( +10 / -26 )

I dont know why. Lots of things trump is proposing is what Japan has been doing as standard practice: arresting and deporting people who have violated immigration law, for example. Protecting industries threatened by free trade, etc, etc.

Also, there have been real bizarro head scratchers from Japanese leaders, lIke "Mexicans bring down the US IQ scores," (Nakasone) and "The sacrifice of Japanese soldiers during WW2 is what gave Japan our freedom and democracy today." (Abe)

Those comments dont make the writers look stupid? Gimme a break.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

They should translate the words as directly as possible, revealing the paucity of the original.

5 ( +9 / -3 )

It's funny. My youngest comes home talking about Trump as though he's the bogeyman. The Japanese hate the guy, think he's dangerous, and yet don't understand why. They get some fake news or out of context quotes, and are fed daily hysteria by the Japanese press, so they fall in line. Funny, because many of his policies would be wildly popular if they were instituted in Japan.

0 ( +10 / -9 )

The Japanese hate the guy, think he's dangerous

Very encouraging if true. If anything I would say Japanese people are less negative about this abomination than people in most other countries, but maybe I am wrong. Thanks for your ringing endorsement of the intelligence and wisdom of the Japanese public!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

MOST OF TRUMP HATERS hate him for absolutely no reason, it's trendy, like uploading a big picture of your own ugly face for the world to see, just because you know, everybody is doing it! What should I do today? Insult Trump or take a selfie?

-15 ( +8 / -22 )

She's either a bad translator or just too old/ unfit for the job. I've translated many of Trump's speeches and Press Conferences for news outlets by 1, 2 a.m. and he always sounded very clear and easy to translate, and I'm not even native in neither english or japanese. I will go with the first poster above, probably she's just joining the failing trump bash & stalk bandwagon. How hard is it to translate this?

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America First, America First.

この日から今後は、新しいビジョンが我が国を統治します。 この日から今後はただひたすら「アメリカ第一」だけだ!

-17 ( +5 / -21 )

Kommanteer:

I did you the favour of omitting the part of your quote that made no sense. You should thank me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Thunderb MOST OF TRUMP HATERS hate him for absolutely no reason,

Speaking for myself I have long been disgusted by the man, ever since he forced his way onto the public stage and into media headlights in the 1980's. He's a spoiled class brat who's bullied people his entire life. He's another predatory rich American nabob who's been able to use his inheritance money to buy legal and financial teams that protect him while he's stiffed those he considers to be weaker.

Read up on his bankruptcies. Read up on people he's put out of business by not paying them the money he'd been legally contracted to. Read up on things he's done to women. Read up on threats he made during his campaign. Read up on how he's insulted people he thinks are inferior. Read up on how he's ripping off US taxpayers while he sits on the throne. The list is pretty long, if you're willing to actually look.

I think YOU have no reason to say people hate him for no reason. I think hate is too strong a word - it requires an investment of emotion which he's not worthy of. Disgust, on the other hand, fits. In my opinion he's a disgusting human.

6 ( +10 / -5 )

I often joke that if we translated his words as they are, we would end up making ourselves sound stupid.>

Yet, that is your JOB. To translate the words as spoken. No wonder Japanese people I talk to tell me all this weird stuff that Trump supposedly said but didnt. Seems even the translators are trying to put their own personal political feelings into it instead of just translating what is said.

-5 ( +7 / -11 )

No wonder Japanese people I talk to tell me all this weird stuff that Trump supposedly said but didnt.

You say the same thing when English speakers repeat stuff he said in English.

I've seen them discussing his comments on TV, and they are pretty accurate with their explanations of his comments.

I think it's more likely you just want to bury your head in the sand, and expect people to listen to what Trump meant to say, rather than what he says.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Thunderbird How hard is it to translate this?

Having been around translators for years I admire your confidence in your skills, but question your sense that you know what the best translation is.

Here's an interesting article on how translators can and do get it wrong: sometimes because the topic is subject to different interpretations, sometimes for political reasons. Lost in translation is often a reality. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=31116

1 ( +3 / -1 )

so he's the American version of Aso-san...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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.

If this was translated from Japanese to English, as it seems to have been, it is extremely awkward in its structure. Perhaps they should be looking at another occupation.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

"maybe you should go back to school and brush up on your translation skills because thats the way half of Americans speak."

Yes, and well over half of Americans, or people of any country, don't have the mental capacities to lead their countries. When someone speaks at length off-script, you can hear their mind at work. Repeating the same words and failing to make logical connections is a Trump trait. This is not an exceptional mind - far from it.

Bill Clinton has the ability to sound highly intelligent off-script. That's because he is.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I suspect Trump interpreters just have to wait a few minutes until a ramble is done and then just summarize it as best they can. I mean, if they ACTUALLY simultaneously translated they would indeed sound like they were mentally unsound.

5 ( +7 / -3 )

French translator Berengere Viennot said pretty much the same a few weeks ago. Here is what she had to say:

The act of translating consists in carrying a meaning from one set of readers to another, and to make sure that the readers of your words will feel the same as the readers of the original text. For the translator is an author: if the thoughts are not hers, the words definitely are. It is a huge responsibility.

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.

But here’s the other problem with Trump: even once you’ve understood his point (or lack thereof), you must still express it in your own language. You realize, at that moment, that you have written something very unpleasant to read. Trump’s vocabulary is limited, his syntax is broken; he repeats the same phrases over and over, forcing the translator to follow suit. If she does not, she betrays the spirit of the original piece. The translator has to translate the content and the style. So that is what I do, and reading Trump in French, which is a very structured and logical language, reveals the poor quality of his language and, consequently, of his thought.

5 ( +6 / -2 )

Sorry, Japan. Until you have the courage to grill your own politicians, ask them hard questions--and there is plenty to talk about--you don't get to jab at politicians of other countries. And you know who else is laughing? Everyone is laughing at Abe grovel at the feet of this "overconfident" and "logically unconvincing" person. And you know who sounds stupid? Japanese people trying to stick it to politicians of other countries when they themselves tremble in their boots at the thought of taking their own to task. This lady probably learned her English in Japan anyway; she probably didn't know how to translate when Trump was asked "how are you doing?" And he responded with "it's going great!" instead of "I'm fine". This, I guess I can see, would be illogical to her. I, myself, have no language issues with Trump; mine are rather different. But one issue I have, one that is justifying Trump more everyday, is the fact that Japan is obsessed with Trump, as is the rest of the world. But maybe trump hit a nerve when he called out Japan on its double standards and unfair practices. I'm sure if Americans made an Abe cake, sculpture, lampooned him publically, their would be an outcry on the part of Japanese saying the Americans are being racist and or culturally insensitive. But the thing is, is that because Japan doesn't take its own politicians to task, they seem culturally insensitive and ignorant, "logically unconvincing", "overconfident" to the point of arrogance, and revealing of their two-faced nature. You see, Japan, lampooning our politicians, especially a la SNL, is a cultural aspect of the American people; something to take pride in, a sign of strength and democracy. Doing that when it's not in your culture to do so, but doing it because it's the current vogue, and because you despise this man because he's called you out on your bs, that to me is ignorant, arrogant, culturally insensitive (you might not like him, but enough Americans did and do that he is the POTUS), but most of all it's logically unconvincing.

-6 ( +7 / -12 )

Regarding this:

この日から今後

Surely この日から and 今後 mean exactly the same as each other, i.e. the phrase is tautological? Now we know Trump repeats himself ad nauseam, but I would say not in that way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

ThunderbirdFEB. 20, 2017 - 11:20AM JST

She's either a bad translator or just too old/ unfit for the job. I've translated many of Trump's speeches and Press Conferences for news outlets by 1, 2 a.m.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America First, America First.

この日から今後は、新しいビジョンが我が国を統治します。 この日から今後はただひたすら「アメリカ第一」だけだ!

I am sorry to say this, but your Japanese output is not professional quality.

1 The ending of sentence, ます and だ, should not mix in a speech.

2 この日から今後は sounds redundant. Should be 今日この日からは or この日から先は.

3 ビジョンが我が国を統治します sounds strange because the subject, ビジョン, is a "thing". In addition, present form 統治します sounds strange with この日から. So, 新しいビジョンでの統治がこの国で始まります sounds natural.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

If that's the way half of Americans speak (as someone pointed out above) then clearly half of Americans have no brain, which the rest of the world had already concluded, seeing as the guy got voted in.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If that's the way half of Americans speak (as someone pointed out above) then clearly half of Americans have no brain, which the rest of the world had already concluded, seeing as the guy got voted in.

Garbage! It's so common and expected and universally excepted to bash America, Americans without consequence. And so what I hear, and what this women doesn't know how to translate, when Trump says make America great again, is make people around the world realize how YOU benefit from America. Now, before you squeeze your European lips together and squeeze out Iraq! Afghanistan! Etc! I'll give you that. Yes it's messed up, but every country benefits from America whether trough trade, protection, philanthropy, science, education, etc. But it's perfectly normal to bash America and generally be anti-American; but if an American does it, oh the quick and heavy judgements. But I guess certain people suffer from imperialist penis envy, and so... But let's watch people panic, bitch and moan when America hopefully does pullout every last troop and seals up the border.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

Mr. Noidall: That last comment is not a whole lot more readable than Trump's off-the-meds address the other day. You guys are rightfully embarrassed and upset by how Trump is doing and what he's saying, but stop misdirecting the anger.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@smirhinjapan

Not embarrassed. I actually don't like trump. But I notice the hypocrisy and the circus. That's all.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To the people saying, that is your job, I would like to say that, yes, it is the job of the interpreter to translate and transmit the meaning and nuance of the speaker. It is challenging enough to do simultaneous interpreting between languages of similar structure,where you can be working nearly word for word just a few words behind, but between English and Japanese, you often have to wait to the end of the sentence to get the verb, the tense and whether something is negative or affirmative. You follow along much further behind and need to be remembering more while speaking.

With a speaker who is not working from a script, and a speaker who changes directions and topics mid-sentence this is hella hard. And then add a dash of made up words (bigly) that you think you must be mis-hearing, and you've got hit yet another level.

That one translated sentence that Thunderbird gave came from a prepared speech and was probably one of the most coherent and straightforward things President Trump has said. I can not imagine for what it would be like trying to do live simultaneous work on say, his recent unscripted press conference.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Saying that you don't understand someone just because you don't like him/her is just as childish as the giant man child who's in office today. I understand him perfectly, and if you don't, stop being an interpreter because your skills are low.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

"Saying that you don't understand someone just because you don't like him/her is just as childish as the giant man child who's in office today. I understand him perfectly, and if you don't, stop being an interpreter because your skills are low."

The quote doesn't mention not understanding him. It's talking about sounding idiotic if you translated what he actually says.

The people listening to the translation may not know that Trump isn't a logical or eloquent speaker and think the interpreter is substandard.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Joining in on the Trump Bash Bandwagon?

By using the term "bandwagon," you're suggesting that the criticisms of Trump's speaking "style" is undeserved. However, it's completely deserved. The man is incapable of putting together two intelligible and properly structured English sentences in a row, at least when he's not reading from notes prepared for him by Steve Bannon.

He wanders all over the map and seems incapable of sting on topic. His greatest strategy is to rely on repeating adjectives and nouns again and again and again, as if the repetition itself will magically fill in the blanks for listeners who are trying to figure out what the hell he's talking about.

He's a barely articulate imbecile and I can think of no better place for this to become apparent than for interpreters who are forced to make sense of his gobbledygook. I feel sorry for professional interpreters.

I understand him perfectly, and if you don't, stop being an interpreter because your skills are low.

Sure you do. Yeah, sure you do. (rolls eyes)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@ theeastisred & CH3CHO

①Again, english and japanese are not my native languages, that's why I always deliver my work to monolingual journalists so they can have it native-checked. ②Check any other translation of the same speech and you will find almost the same words I used here. You probably should give your advises on japanese grammar to BBC translators as well.

http://www.bbc.com/japanese/features-and-analysis-38702737

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Chikako Tsuruta has made a big mistake by commenting like this.

In my mind, a professional interpreter would never, ever comment like this... neither on the person whose words they are translating, nor on the contents of what is being translated.

Unfortunately, we can see clearly that Chikako Tsuruta is not a professional.

She is an amateur.

For me, and probably for many people, she has lost all her credibility with these ill-judged remarks.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

"She also criticized him for using Fifth Grade level vocabulary. If that's her criticism then she needs to study the latest research in public speaking."

What does the latest research regarding speech patterns and vocabulary in interviews say?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

EXACTLY !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Chikako sama, Maybe you should go back to school and brush up on your translation skills because thats the way half of Americans speak.

What... gibberish?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

My 4 year old daughter took 1 look at Trump on TV before he was elected and said "Who is he? He looks like a bad man" completely of her own accord. She will grow up just fine.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Kind of funny watching the right trying to discredit a professional translator because she's being honest about the quality of what's being translated. Seems they don't like people in the rest of the world saying the things that the rest of the world is saying about their president.

I've had to translate documents that were not clearly written, and it's extremely difficult. Do you translate exactly what's written, and leave it as gibberish, or do you translate what you think they're trying to say, and potentially be wrong? It's hard. I go back to the source and ask for clarity when possible, but when doing real-time interpretation, that's not possible.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

What Strangerland said. Translation involves expressing the meaning of the original in the target language. When the original is cleverly written with puns, word-plays, etc., it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to incorporate all the linguistic threads and strings, but the main idea can still be gotten across.

When the original is unclear as to meaning, ungrammatical, or sheer gibberish, there is no meaning to translate.

An unprofessional translator will make a guess, send in the work and wait for payment. The professional translator will ask for clarification.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's funny. Many people are missing the point.

What this unprofessional translator has done is to try to assume the role of judge and jury of the content and of the speaker.

That's not her job.

Nobody is interested in her opinions as a mere interpreter.

Her job is to translate the words as best she can. Only that.

People can decide for themselves on the speaker and his content. Her judgemental views about it are not needed, and it is unprofessional for a translator to comment publicly like this.

She seems arrogant and biased.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

What this unprofessional translator has done is to try to assume the role of judge and jury of the content and of the speaker.

That's not her job.

That's pretty much exactly the job of a translator.

Her job is to translate the words as best she can. Only that.

To do that, you need to be judge and jury on what the speaker/write is trying to say.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That's pretty much exactly the job of a translator.

I think you are completely wrong.

A more professional and honorable translator, Kumiko Torikai, speaks later in the Japan Times article:

"As an interpreter, your job is to translate the words of a speaker exactly as they are, no matter how heinous and what an outrageous liar you find the speaker to be... You set aside all your personal emotions and become the speaker yourself. It’s a really tough thing, not being allowed to demonstrate your own judgment about what is right and what is wrong. And that’s why I quit.”

There you have it from an emeritus professor.

Interpreters/translators (of the professional sort) should not make judgments about what is right or wrong... their job is to just translate the content.

But maybe we have different ideas about translators/interpreters.

Presumably, if you hear an interpreter translating someone in a language you don't know, after the translation is finished you need the interpreter to tell you, "Oh, he's an idiot and he's talking nonsense" or else "Now this is a great guy... he is obviously talking the truth".

Presumably you want to be told what to think about the speaker and his/her content.

As for me, I don't need those extra comments.

I can make up my own mind.

And I don't believe it is the role of the translator/interpreter to make such comments.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Her job is to translate the words as best she can.

No, her job is to get across the message of the person she is translating for, as accurately as possible. If the words are meaningless gobbledegook it is impossible to translate them.

their job is to just translate the content

Now you're getting closer. As Ms Tsuruta says, if you translate the content of what Trump says as is, you end up with something that is meaningless. Rubbish in, rubbish out.

I don't believe it is the role of the translator/interpreter to make such comments.

It isn't. And that isn't what Ms. Tsuruta is saying.

When you have utterances like So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Because there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit, but the reporters, good reporters. Or another one: I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred, and just the hatred. I don’t watch it anymore because it’s not very good. ... I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better. I don’t watch it any more because it’s very good — he’s saying no. It’s OK, Jim. It’s OK, Jim, you’ll have your chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one so don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting - 'translating the words' will certainly make any translator sound like she doesn't know what she's doing. But as for translating the content - there isn't any.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Cleo (and Strangerland) I think you are completely missing my point.

Tsuruta is making comments such as:

He is so overconfident and yet so logically unconvincing

I am saying I do not need such comments from a mere translator.

Why has she become the arbiter of what is logically convincing or not?

I do not believe it is her role as a translator to judge the person and his/her content.

We can make up our own minds.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Tsuruta is making comments such as:

He is so overconfident and yet so logically unconvincing

I am saying I do not need such comments from a mere translator.

Fair enough. Having done a lot of translation, I liked her comments as I was able to relate to them.

Why has she become the arbiter of what is logically convincing or not?

She hasn't. She gave an opinion. People give opinions. Kind of like you are giving yours. I could equally say 'why have you become the arbiter of what opinions translators should be allowed to give?' Except that you're not. You're just giving an opinion.

I do not believe it is her role as a translator to judge the person and his/her content.

She isn't saying that is her role. She is giving her opinion on the guy. She obviously takes her position seriously, as she's considered the meta part of the role - whether to translate exactly what he says, leaving the content gibberish, or translating what he is trying to say, which is a less accurate translation.

We can make up our own minds.

And so can she - which she did.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would agree with choiwaru if Ms. Tsuruta were adding her comments to an actual translation and making it part of the message; she isn't. As Strangerland points out, she is merely giving her opinion and commenting on one aspect of her work. And like Strangerland, having been in a similar situation professionally many times, I can relate to what she says.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Choiwaruojayi,

I have to agree with Strangerland, Cleo, and others. A person does not automatically lose the right to express an opinion by virtue of their job title. These translators didn't put their opinions into the body of their work, therefore, they've met any ethical conditions one can reasonably expect from them as professional translators. Unless we're talking about a court case in which a jury pool can potentially be tainted -- which we very clearly aren't -- these women have every right to express their opinion on their experiences translating for the orange-coifed imbecile currently trolling the halls of the White House.

As long as their option did not come through in their actual translation work, there's no issue here.

Unless of course it's the one where the orange-coifed imbecile and a fair number of his most ardent sycophants believe he can and should silence any and all contrary or negative coverage or opinion of his less-than-stellar landing on the political world stage? Yeah, good luck with that.

What I find to be particularly amusing about their observations is that even as second-language speakers, albeit highly skilled ones, their comments reflect those of native English speakers to a T.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

choiwaruoyajiFEB. 21, 2017 - 02:03AM JST

If the interpreted output is garbage, there are two possibilities.

1 The interpreter did a bad job.

2 The original language was garbage.

The viewers are to guess which the case is.

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.

Viewers would guess that the interpreters are doing bad job because Trump is overconfident. That is what she is saying.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

For me it is a question of professionalism.

A real professional does not make public comments like this.

Say, if after President Obama's speech at Hiroshima, we had Japanese translators making public judgement calls about him and his speech:

"He is so insincere and he used weasel words to avoid making a clear apology."

Or a Japanese translator commented on Hillary Clinton:

"She is so boring and talks like a lecturing school ma'am."

Such public comments would be highly unprofessional.

Also there is a risk that the translator would be seen as having an ideological bias and is hence unreliable.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned but IMHO a real professional quietly and efficiently does his or her job and doesn't make public judgements or comments... a doctor doesn't comment publicly on his patients, a lawyer would never comment publicly on his clients, an accountant does not publicly judge the companies he is working for, etc...

In the Japan Times it mentions that Tsuruta is a university teacher.

Presumably she is teaching her students like this... after you have finished doing your translation work, try to make comments in the media about the speaker and his/her content... let everybody know how you feel about him/her.

If so, her students should ignore her advice.

For me, with these comments about Trump, she has shown herself to be very amateurish and also arrogant and egotistical.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Fair enough opinion. As you can see, others of us in this thread don't share your opinion.

I suppose she could be PC - and not say anything that might offend others. But I thought the whole thing about people who supported Trump was that he isn't PC. Why should others be PC when referring to him, when it's something he doesn't even do himself?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As you can see, others of us in this thread don't share your opinion.

What's that got to do with anything?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What's that got to do with anything?

Just pointing out that your opinion doesn't make it your opinion right (nor wrong). It's an opinion, and one that others of us don't share. Neither is our opinion right or wrong.

Differing opinions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Strangerland and choiwaruoyaji, please do not address each other any further on this thread.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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