To tone down, or not to tone down…that is the question. Interpreters and translators are torn as to whether Trump’s rhetoric should be softened via translation or interpretation, or left in it’s often crude and offensive form.
Some translators and interpreters argue that they have the right to modify Trump’s register when it conflicts with their own moral standards, however I disagree.
Translators and interpreters bridge a communication gap left by the speaker’s inability to speak that language. Their job is to convey the message as if the speaker did, in fact, know that language. By modifying the register the speaker becomes something he/she is not. If the speaker is a crude bigot, then the audience has a right to know and judge his intended message for themselves. They should not walk away thinking that the speaker is someone is a great guy, simply because the interpreter decided to remove all the racist/sexist/bigoted/childish remarks that were made.
Of course, being an interpreter myself, I recognize the discomfort of interpreting absurd and offensive messages. I would rather not do it, however I believe the listener has the right to know exactly who they’re dealing with.
Let’s say I’m interviewing babysitters for my son and in another language, they say how much they hate boys and how they are destructive little beasts who need to be whipped. Would I want the interpreter to make that phrase sound nicer? Hell no! I’d want to hear it in all it’s glory and so I could get rid of that person faster than a dirty diaper.
The future will deliver AI translators and interpreters, and that will be the purest form of interpretation and translation, free from all bias. Until then, please send us an email or give us a call if you have any onsite interpretation needs or document translations that we could help out with.