The Daily Show interviews the translators who have to make sense of Donald Trump.

The Daily Show Talks to the Translators Who Have to Make Sense of Donald Trump

The Daily Show Talks to the Translators Who Have to Make Sense of Donald Trump

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Slate's Culture Blog
July 14 2017 12:26 PM

The Daily Show Talks to the Translators Who Have to Make Sense of Donald Trump


Still taken from video.

Remember in April when the Associated Press released a transcript that—aside from revealing that President Trump wasn’t totally sure what NATO was and that he has the ability to state a fact and then apparently forget it in the course of a single sentence—attributed 15 “unintelligible” statements in a one-on-one interview? We can hardly piece together what Trump is trying to say in English, so imagine how difficult it would be to have to translate Trump’s words into another language.

Daily Show correspondent Desi Lydic sat down with translators from Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Syria, as well as an American Sign Language interpreter, all of whom are responsible for translating Trump’s words. All of these translators, with the hilarious exemption of the Russian one, agreed that translating Trump is challenging, to say the least. They also revealed that, because of Trump’s incoherence, they have to rely on lying or not giving a perfect translation of Trump’s words. “Grab her by the pussy,” for example, was a particular phrase that the translator from Japan struggled with. On the other hand, Trump’s infamous “bing bing bong bong” lends itself to a one-to-one translation in Spanish.


To fully understand the weight of Trump’s words requires conveying their Wrestlemania-style bluster, but what almost all of the translators agreed on was how, even when they’re able to give a literal translation of what Trump says, conveying his words in the manner and tone in which he says them is next to impossible.

This Daily Show field piece is one of the more genuinely insightful and entertaining pieces of Trump criticism in a while from a late night show. Trevor Noah’s monologues may sometimes get buried by Colbert’s, Meyer’s, Oliver’s, and Bee’s, but his show’s field pieces have been a particular strong point of his show in the past year. Two years in, it’s starting to feel like Noah’s Daily Show is about to hit its stride.

Austin Elias-de Jesus is a Slate editorial intern.