S.O.S.! Translators Needed in the U.S. Presidential Campaign!

In a presidential campaign that has been so unusual by so many standards, it’s no surprise that the role of foreigners within it has brought with it some reproval, linguistically speaking. And before the dust settles from the scandal of the “alleged” plagiarism by the Republican candidate’s wife from the current first lady, when the latter spoke at the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008, the American public (and let’s face it, the global public, since not just the future of Americans is at stake in this election) woke up to the news of a new blunder by the GOP.

The Republican National Convention closed a few weeks ago with a speech by presidential candidate Donald Trump, but some observers were bewildered by the badly-translated signs which stated “Latinos Para Trump” (Latinos For Trump) held by a few members of the crowd.

These party-supporters were not just your average voters with hand-made signs; there were hundreds of these signs printed by the Republican campaign itself.

And, even though Spanish is the second most spoken language in the country, even among the non-Hispanic population, it seems that some of the people responsible for the Republican campaign missed a few Spanish classes. Is it so?

On the basis that Donald Trump comes from the business world, it wouldn’t hurt to remember the countermarketing key principle which states that there’s no such thing as bad press. So much so that it seems like bad press has been a very efficient fertilizer for the Republican candidate’s popularity.

It seems that whoever tried to translate the original message (in English), used the word “para” instead of “por.” Both prepositions are translated in English as “for”, but they act as collocations used with very different objectives.

Even though it can be easy to get “para” and “por” mixed-up, there is no doubt that there is a wide grammatical difference between the two. If you wanted to express your support for someone through voting, you should use “por.” “Para” does not make sense in this context, unless you want to express that whoever holds the sign is working for the person mentioned on it (a “gaffe” that may result as completely unpopular to someone known not only for hiring but also firing employees, even on reality TV).

Others questioned whether or not the people holding the signs were in fact Hispanic. But no matter who held the signs, someone should have studied their Spanish 101 course notes, have had them printed again, or both. It’s also worth mentioning that the preposition in question is also part of the conjugation of the verb parar (To stop). Could this become a self-fulfilled prophecy?

Don’t let this post fool you into thinking this is an opinion piece on the GOP; in my next blog post, the Democrats will also be getting their fair share!