News networks all over the world are facing a crisis as their interpreters walk out on strike, threatening to suspend their services until provided with a U.S. President whose words are actually translatable.
“This wasn’t in my job description,” said an interpreter for Agence France Presse. “I can’t decide which is worse: say exactly what Trump says and make people wonder if I’m crazy, or try to make sense of it and make people wonder if he’s sane.”
An interpreter for Italy’s RAB agreed. “You don’t expect the Gettysburg Address from every American president, but you do at least expect recognizable English. At Trump’s presser last week, I spent the whole first five whole minutes trying to figure out what language he was speaking.”
An interpreter for Japan’s NHK added, “When he met with Prime Minister Abe, he said something ‘strongly and with great assurity’. Is that even a word? Or how about this one from the rally in Florida: ‘We’re going to unfree all of those companies. They’re going to have freedom.’ What’s the Japanese equivalent for ‘WTF’?”
“I’m still scratching my head about his ‘last night in Sweden’ remark,” said an interpreter for Sveriges Television. “I had no idea what he meant…unless he somehow knew my mother-in-law got sick from bad gravalax.”
Interpreters claim that, in extreme cases, translating Trump can be hazardous to their health. “When he said, ‘The leaks to Russia are fake news, and we’re having the Justice Department investigate them because they’re criminal leaks’,” said a spokesperson for Russia’s First Channel, “the interpreter had a cerebral aneurysm. You try explaining that one to an insurance company.”
Network executives are in an understandable panic, since the only way to resolve the dispute is out of their hands. “The strike will only end when the American people come to their senses,” said a producer for Germany’s ARD, “so it might go on for quite some time.”
Some desperate networks are turning to non-union substitutes, but the quality of their interpretation is sometimes questionable. One temp hired by Telemundo interpreted Trump’s line from the Florida rally, “This was a truly great movement,” as “This was a huge pile of crap.”