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Hi Blog. I’m trying to maintain my summer vacation (and a dry-out from the Internet for a little while), but every now and again I stumble across something interesting (what with this golden age of political comedy in the US), and here’s something indirectly Japan-related.
Trevor Noah and company on the Daily Show make an interesting case about how Trump’s language, both in terms of content and syntax, is challenging for translators in other languages to render. They make the point that the impact and nuance is often softened by translator self-censorship (or filling in the gaps with personal interpretations). I understand well, having been in their situations more than once. (And let me say here for the record: I am not a trained interpreter, and I have had numerous debates with interpreters with accuracy versus diplomatic rendering of the language. I fall on the side of total accuracy warts and all.) Worth a watch:
But at minute 4:00 of the segment, the Japanese interpreter claims that there is no accurate way to translate Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pu**y” remark. She even claims that there is no word “in the exact sense” for “pu**y” in Japanese.
Rubbish. I can think of quite a few words that would do the trick, in content and especially in nuance. The two easiest, of course, are om*nko or om*nta, as in “om*nta o tsukandari shite“, and in Trump’s case I would even remove their honorific prefixes.
Of course, that would require bleeping out the syllable after “man”, but it’s been done on Japanese TV before. I’ve seen it.
But I dislike it when people, especially in this case a professional interpreter, play dumb and deny. Repeating that old lie that we heard as beginning Japanese students that “there are no bad words in Japanese”.
Like it or not, “om*nta” what 45 said. Portray it accurately. Or, as the segment argued well, the awfulness of 45’s speech is bleached out simply because the interpreter is being too diplomatic, cultured, or prudish. Dr. Debito Arudou
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