A Presidential Challenge

Translating and interpreting for the President of the United States has always been a challenging undertaking. The current administration is no exception.

First of all, there is the problem of translating campaign slogans. “Make America Great Again” may be a simple English sentence but translating it to Spanish for example, is more difficult than it appears.

For example, there is no clue as to who the subject of the sentence is, and, as students of Spanish will painfully remember, Spanish verbs agree with the subject. Is it you making America great again? Is it we? Who knows? Ronald Ragan’s slogan was almost the same, but at least the subject was clear “Let’s (let us) Make America Great Again.

There is also the problem of the word “Great.” A literal translation will invariably refer to the size of the country rather than its accomplishments and renown. Trying to find alternatives makes me want to give up on this translation altogether.

Then there is the problem of each president’s particular style. This is where the current administration gives Spanish translators a break. Spanish is a language that is not exactly prone to understatement, so concepts such as greatness and strength, which are present in most of the President’s speeches, fit right in.

Finally, perhaps the greatest challenge of all is afforded by the day and age we live in. Considering how instantaneous communication over massive social media networks has made even presidential communiqués more informal and colloquial, translators have their work cut out for them. Translating protocol is easy. It was developped over the last several centuries to make communication across nations and sovereign states uniform. Not anymore. Not since publishing 280 characters or less of casual text daily has become the norm.

Snappy slongans and the colloquial register were once the translator’s nightmare. Today, they are their bread and butter. As communications become more concise and brief, translators are changing the way they face their job.

You can always count on Trusted Translations to keep up with the times and give your translations the presidential treatment.