“He has the ‘Apprentice’ personality thing going on,” said Alessandro Duranti, dean of the division of social sciences in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, whose expertise includes language as a cultural practice, and political discourse. “He has a certain use of hyperbole. He actually insults people. He calls people ‘dummy,’ ‘lowlife,’ ‘fraud.’ He talks in a way that is not the typical political speech. When there’s a choice, he goes for whatever is the most colloquial.”
All of those attributes create minefields for those translating his words.
Chinese interpreters struggle with Trump’s inclination toward hyperbole, according to Mandarin speakers. For example, “huge,” “enormous” and “tremendous” all translate into the same word in Chinese: “da,” or “big.”
“Sometimes the translation is much more restrained than the original because the words he chooses are very ostentatious,” said Yin Hao, a graduate student at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, who has made a hobby of translating comments by U.S. politicians and posting them online.