Lost in Trumpslation: An Interview with Bérengère Viennot – Los Angeles Review of Books

A fascinating, inside look at the tribulations of translators, not only in times of Trump, but more broadly at the headspaces they navigate.

For journalistic translator, Bérengère Viennot, who has translated Obama’s speeches and does the same now for Trump, it could, in visual terms, be compared to being snatched from the clean aesthetics of a Mondrian, and being hurled into a linguistic morass, inspired in equal measure by M.C. Escher and Hieronymus Bosch. Continue reading

Advertisements

Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy

An interesting look here from the UK’s The Guardian newspaper at President-elect Donald Trump’s use of language*, and what it can tell us. I’m reminded of Austrian writer Karl Kraus’s observation that:

The secret of the demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe they are as clever as he.

The author of the article, Sam Leith, tells us that reading-level algorithms “found [Trump’s] speeches pitched at fourth-grade level, i.e. the comprehension of an average nine-year old”. By sheer coincidence, just before last Christmas and while browsing laboriously through my Sina Weibo feed (China’s answer to Twitter), I came across the following Weibo tweet:

weibo

which translates, roughly (and witheringly), as “One of the reasons why I like Trump is that I can understand his tweets with my fourth-grade English”.

“Sad!”

*And an equally interesting article, published today, on Trump’s facial expressions and what they indicate, by psychologist Peter Collett.

***

“His spelling and grammar are disastrous, he contradicts himself, trails into incoherence, never sounds dignified or recognisably presidential – but none of it does him any harm. In fact…”

Source: Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy

The Evolution of Language: Three Things We’ve Learnt — Mother Tongues

A coupla hundred years ago, our good ol’ mate Darwin thought up this totally radical idea called evolution. This had two noticeable results: the church got their knickers in a twist, and it revolutionised our understanding – of biology, humanity, pretty much EVERYTHING-y. Since then, all manner of disciplines have co-opted the evolution concept: stellar evolution! Directed […]

via The Evolution of Language: Three Things We’ve Learnt — Mother Tongues