Here’s how Chinese media in the region translated Trump’s ‘shithole countries’ quote

The struggle for accuracy is real.

Chan Cheow Pong | January 12, 2018 @ 06:48 pm

US President Donald Trump is not someone who takes a lot of care about what he says and how he says it.

You may recall the controversy when he was caught uttering the P-word when he was a presidential nominee back in Oct 2016.

Here’s how Chinese media in S’pore translated Trump’s ‘Grab them by the pussy’ quote

Shithole countries

He’s recently making headlines for using crass language again when he referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting on Jan. 11 with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office focusing on immigration.

US media reported that Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Lost in translation

The remark was picked up by media around the world, but for non-English media, it proved to be a challenge for many to translate the crude term he used.

Here’s how the Chinese media in the region chose to translate “shithole countries”

In China:

In Taiwan:

  • Government media Central News Agency used niao bu sheng dan de guo jia, or 鳥不生蛋的國家, meaning “countries where birds don’t lay eggs.”
  • United Daily News is the media that has stuck most closely to the English text by using shi keng guo jia or 屎坑國家, which literally means “shitpit countries”.

In Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong Economic Journal came up with gai si de guo jia or 該死的國家, which translates to “countries that deserve death”.
  • HK01 went with la ji guo jia or 垃圾國家, meaning “trashy countries”.

In Singapore:

  • Local broadsheet Lianhe Zaobao opted for xia san lan guo jia or 下三滥国家, meaning “lowlife countries”


From the different variations in translation, the struggle for accuracy is clear.

Given Trump’s track record of telling it like it is, one can be quite sure that this will not be the last time non-English media outlets will have to scramble to find the most appropriate way to translate his colourful quotes.

Cover photo from Getty Images.

About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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