When news broke that President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries,” newsrooms across the country had to decide how to handle the expletive. (Trump has since denied calling Haiti a “shithole.”) On CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer avoided using the word by saying “s hole” (over and over) instead. The Washington Post boldly put “shithole” in the headline of the scoop and many outlets followed suit.
But media in non-English speaking countries are having a different challenge in translating the term.
Here’s a quick look at how some international bureaus and news outlets are handling Trump’s obscene outburst.
Watching Chinese-language media try to translate 'shithole countries'
CNA in Taiwan have opted for an idiom that literally means 'countries where birds don't lay eggs' 「鳥不生蛋國家」 which is perhaps best translated as 'godforsaken countries.' https://t.co/dZ4Vdcykw6
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) January 12, 2018
Japanese media translation of “shithole” = “countries that are dirty like toilets” https://t.co/tw7WCMTX3G
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) January 12, 2018
For translation, JoongAng Ilbo went with "beggars' den." I still think the more literal translation of 똥통 ("shit bucket") would have worked better. https://t.co/R3T5peOgGU
— T.K. of AAK! (@AskAKorean) January 12, 2018
Jorge Ramos just confirmed shithole is "mierda" in Spanish pic.twitter.com/r1XySBeEnJ
— Jorge Rivas (@thisisjorge) January 11, 2018
— AP Noticias (@AP_Noticias) January 11, 2018
German media are going with 'Drecksloch', a direct translation, also vulgar, but 'Shithole' would surely have been understood shit is part of German daily vocabulary. See 'Shitstorm' in every third news article.
— Nalina Eggert (@NalinaEggert) January 12, 2018
"pays de merde" – while the most correct translation – loses some of the polysemic value of "shithole". https://t.co/pROBKhewbd
— manu saadia 🖖 (@trekonomics) January 12, 2018
American media : ‘can we say ‘shithole’?’
British media ‘shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole …’etc
Free speech paradox
— emily bell (@emilybell) January 12, 2018