The Putinization of Donald Trump

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A protester holds up a sign at an anti-Trump demonstration in Washington, DC.


Susan Melkisethian

Can you imagine trying to translate Donald Trump?

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OK, he doesn't have an expansive vocabulary. But he makes up for it with an outpouring of colloquialisms and undiplomatic insults (i.e., "nutjob"), all delivered in a meandering style replete with lightning-fast tone changes. Convey that in another language?

Fuggedaboutit. Just ask some of those tasked with translating his words into Japanese or Hindi. Or Persian. Even the French are flummoxed. 

A popular Russian approach is to ignore Trump's own "voice." Instead, "they translate him a little bit to sound like Putin," says Michele Berdy, who writes a column on language for The Moscow Times. 

We hear from Michele about this in this episode of The World in Words podcast. We also check in with Alina Simone, who's been canvassing Russian Americans for their largely positive views on Trump.

Vadim Yarmolinets, morning show host of Davidzon Radio, a Russian-language radio station in New York, is pictured here.


Podcast Contents

00:00  A pill "to cure this hysteria"

02:50  Putin's circumcision offer ... 

03:40 ... and the interpreters freeze.

06:15 Alina's parents' politics: the what and the why

07:33 Vadim Yarmolinets, radio host

09:20  Vadim's disenchantment with the political left

10:15  Socialism: Finland...or Venezuela?

11:20  Lena and Mikhail Antipov, more recent arrivals

11:58  Mikhail and his band The Vivisectors run afoul of Russian authorities. 

13:20  Views on Trump at the Russian immigrant senior home where Lena works

14:00  "These are immigrants who are for a president who is against immigrants." 

Russia-born Lena Antipov now works as a home health aide in New York. 


Mikhail Antipov

14:15  More questions about Trump now

14:50  "Now, they know how to filter his words."

16:20  Helping a friend caught up in the travel ban. 

18:00  "Going nuclear" in the Senate. Translate that!

19:50  "Trump is a schmuck" signs are starting to appear in provincial Russia.  

21:30  Translators of Trump: Please get in touch with us!

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