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World media struggle to translate Trump's Africa/Haiti insult

19 Comments
By TOM ODULA

President Donald Trump's vulgar insult of Africa and Haiti was a puzzle for many foreign media organizations, which didn't have a ready translation of his epithet for their readers or listeners.

Their answers ranged from "dirty" to, well, dirtier.

While meeting with senators on immigration, Trump questioned why the United States would accept more immigrants from Haiti and "shithole countries" in Africa, according to one participant and people briefed on the conversation.

His comments Thursday revived racism accusations against Trump, roiled immigration talks and set off international outrage that left some foreign journalists wondering how to express the offending word.

"We have dozens of language services at the BBC which today are all discussing the right way to translate into their own language the word 'shithole' for their millions of listeners," Paul Danahar, the editor of the BBC's North America bureau, tweeted Friday.

In Africa, the continent that was the object of Trump's insult, Tanzania's Mwananchi newspaper translated his comment as "mataifa chafu" — simply, "dirty countries."

Taifa Leo, a sister Swahili publication to Kenya's leading Daily Nation, chose "nchi za kinyesi," a more or less exact translation but with a gentler word for excrement.

There is a more direct translation for Trump's term in Swahili, editor Gilbert Mogire said. But, he explained, that would be "unprintable."

In Asia, Japan's Kyodo News wire service chose "kusottare," which literally means "dripping with excrement." The country's no-nonsense national broadcaster NHK settled for "filthy," while the Asahi Shimbun newspaper decided that a word meaning "outdoor toilets" conveyed the gist of Trump's term.

Chinese media outlets are tightly controlled and have relatively little latitude when it comes to creative interpretations. The official Xinhua News Agency and other outlets translated the expletive as "fenkeng" — literally "cesspit."

In the Spanish-speaking world, news outlets ranging from Argentina's Clarin and Todo Noticias to Spain's El Mundo and El Diario matched the president's profanity level by translating the word Trump reportedly used as "agujeros de mierda." ''Agujeros" is Spanish for holes.

Mexico's El Universal used both that and the simpler "paises de mierda," which is the phrasing The Associated Press sent to its Spanish-language customers. "Paises" is Spanish for countries. O Globo and Folha de S.Paulo of Brazil published the Portuguese "paises de merda."

Peru's Radio Programas went with "agujeros de porqueria," or "holes of filth."

News organizations in Serbo-Croatian-speaking countries didn't mince any words, applying a phrase with the same meaning as the term Trump reportedly used and arguably more off-color.

Croatian news portal Express.hr was among the media that used "vukojebina" for shithole.

A slightly less indiscreet English translation of the word would be "where the wolves fornicate," although it is used colloquially in Serbo-Croat to refer to places far from civilization.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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"Outdoor toilet" doesn't universally translate? Just add a "(vulgar)" to the words if that extra clarification is needed locally.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As usual, the media are tripping over themselves to claim the title of Most Offended by Trump. And whatever language he used or didn’t use here is beside the point and pales into insignificance compared to the real problem he and the others in the room were discussing: whether allowing large numbers of people into the US from what are essentially failed states is good for the US. Will they be a net benefit or liability for the people already there and future generations?

If the source countries are anything to go by, it’s not unreasonable to raise the question. Any before cries of racism and colonialism fly off your keyboards, how were these places doing before western civilization came along? Call them what you will (the countries, not the people), but how many people consider migrating to Haiti and various African nations instead of away from them? And don’t forget how the Clintons used Haiti as a poster child to collect millions of dollars for their phony foundation, yet they get a free pass from the media and Left in general.

Some perspective wouldn’t go astray.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Trump's nasty statements (and openly horrible attitudes) about Africa are creating a national security problem. As long as their are Islamic extremists operating in Africa, we will not be safe if African countries decide not to help us with intelligence operations and other assistance. We cannot protect ourselves alone. The U.S. has "human assets" in our intelligence network all over the world. Once we insult the wrong people, they have no cover. You get the drift. As bad as this is, there is still the economic damage of the U.S. simply being ignored when other countries come together in forming trade and environmental collaborations. Maybe, just maybe, they will find out that they just don't need the U.S. for much of anything. If you are not a target of North Korea, what can we do for you anyway?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I hope all global media use a word that includes their term for Feces rather than euphemisms like "dirty". I can't imagine any culture on this planet that wouldn't grasp the sheer crassness and immaturity of Trump's vocabulary, and his mental state. World leaders have plenty of words like "under developed" or even "backwards" to describe what Trump was saying, but his choice suggests a degree of contempt, which easily translates to racism.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I think translators, especially those required to do translations of Trump, should spend time at US boys middle school locker rooms to get a better understanding of the language used by Trump and his supporters.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think translators, especially those required to do translations of Trump, should spend time at US boys middle school locker rooms to get a better understanding of the language used by Trump and his supporters.

But saying it in the locker room and around others privately is ok? So being honest privately is better than being honest publicly.

Trump's nasty statements (and openly horrible attitudes) about Africa are creating a national security problem. As long as their are Islamic extremists operating in Africa, we will not be safe if African countries decide not to help us with intelligence operations and other assistance.

You believe that garbage? We will never be safe sound Islamists, has nothing to do with what the President said.

We cannot protect ourselves alone. The U.S. has "human assets" in our intelligence network all over the world.

Like Israel? So that means maintaining relations is very important, right?

Once we insult the wrong people, they have no cover. You get the drift.

Oh, I do, so I think our allies understand this.

As bad as this is, there is still the economic damage of the U.S. simply being ignored when other countries come together in forming trade and environmental collaborations. Maybe, just maybe, they will find out that they just don't need the U.S. for much of anything. If you are not a target of North Korea, what can we do for you anyway?

It's not that bad, they will always need the US it's money and all will be ok, by summer, this will be another blip on the radar.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

@pt I think translators, especially those required to do translations of Trump, should spend time at US boys middle school locker rooms to get a better understanding of the language used by Trump and his supporters.

@bas4 But saying it in the locker room and around others privately is ok? So being honest privately is better than being honest publicly.

As usual I'm a bit confused how your response relates to my post. My point is Trump uses the language of a junior high boy. Most likely translators are accustomed to dealing with higher level language. In fairness to junior high boys, most have superior reasoning skills to Trump's, whose reasoning seems to be stuck at K-6 level, which you'd expect from a spoiled class brat coddled since birth.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

People are fixating on the choice of words. The attention really needs to be shined on the fact that Trump's sentiment, however crudely he phrased it, is un-American.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As usual I'm a bit confused how your response relates to my post. My point is Trump uses the language of a junior high boy. 

Then you haven't watched CNN lately.

Most likely translators are accustomed to dealing with higher level language. In fairness to junior high boys, most have superior reasoning skills to Trump's, whose reasoning seems to be stuck at K-6 level, which you'd expect from a spoiled class brat coddled since birth.

When the left talk this, I wonder who is the big boy in the room.

People are fixating on the choice of words. The attention really needs to be shined on the fact that Trump's sentiment, however crudely he phrased it, is un-American.

How so?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Then you haven't watched CNN lately.

I heard they were criticised for using trashy, juvenile language on air.

That is, they quoted the words of the trashy, juvenile President of the US.

Is this true?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

As usual I'm a bit confused how your response relates to my post. My point is Trump uses the language of a junior high boy. 

Then you haven't watched CNN lately.

I haven't watched CNN lately. And Trump uses the language of a junior high school boy (its been proven: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/18/trumps-grammar-in-speeches-just-below-6th-grade-level-study-finds/). I have no idea what sort of relationship you think exists between these two points though.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

heard they were criticised for using trashy, juvenile language on air. 

That is, they quoted the words of the trashy, juvenile President of the US. 

Is this true?

Hey, they need the ratings, so whatever can bring home the bacon

Good point. I suppose the question is whether it’s okay to follow the President of the US into the sewer. A tough one.

I hope they don’t go as low as showing dodgy videos from racist groups to attempt to prove a point. That would be spewing pure filth rather than just being around it the sewer.

Best leave that kind of behaviour to the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@pt As someone involved in media, you should know that when you use someone else's words and ideas, they're supposed to be given credit. When you quote Hannity, Limbaugh, etal, they should be credited.

@bas4 Because you think so? So who should I quote? who is the voice of liberal reason? Oprah, Noam Chomsky, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert?

Missed the point again. I'd explain further, but know that would be a waste of time.

@bas4 White supremacy? What?

Suggest you re-read some of your posts.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Every day the mentally ill Trump does something to demonstrate just how completely unfit he is for the office of President ... of anything, really.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

We can argue all day about the language, but the mainstream media and professional offendees on social media are keener on getting in in their hourly 2 minutes of hate (and change) on Trump than trying to solve problems in the source countries in ways that don’t include appeasement and virtue signalling.

And it’s more than amusing that all those folks who swore they’d leave the US if Trump were elected have stayed put. And they were “planning” to move to Western countries, not any of the places a certain Simpsons barman might call “one a dem loser countries”. Racist? You decide ;-)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

And it’s more than amusing that all those folks who swore they’d leave the US if Trump were elected have stayed put. And they were “planning” to move to Western countries, not any of the places a certain Simpsons barman might call “one a dem loser countries”. Racist? You decide ;-)

Bingo!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This will all blow over within a week because Donald will say something incredibly stupid about something else.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not just Europe but the world. Blows most countries out of the water, including the US, on the scales that matter. 

Again, good for them. Happy for them, they have their culture and way of life and we have ours.

Now are you going to address the idea of the president of the US, a country which trades with and has interests in pretty much every country on the planet, describing countries as “s###holes”? 

Depends.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It wasn't racist.

It wasn't illegal.

It was in poor taste, that is true.

I don't understand the multi-day interest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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