ow do you say “sh*thole” in French?
That’s something I’m guessing people who work at French media outlets never thought they’d be asking themselves. But thanks to Trump’s sh*tty comments this week, they had no choice.
News outlets around the world used a variety of different words to translate Trump’s racist comments about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and countries in Africa. And because I’m a linguistics nerd, I decided to report on them.
ICYMI, Donald Trump referred to a bunch of countries as “sh*thole counties” while discussing an immigration deal.
“Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” he reportedly asked a group of lawmakers while discussing immigrants from Hati, El Salvador, and African countries. “Why do we need more Haitians?” he asked. “Take them out.”
Trump then went on to suggest that the U.S. should bring in more people from countries like Norway. In case you’re struggling with the subtext there, he meant “white people.”
Obviously, I don’t need to explain the issues with Trump’s statements.
These stunningly racist remarks were just the latest in a presidency peppered with endless instances of both covert and overt racism.
But the comments did provide media outlets with a fascinating linguistic conundrum.
When the President of the United States compares countries to buttholes, you can’t not report on it. But the word “sh*thole” doesn’t have a direct translation in many languages. What to do?
Here’s how some media outlets from around the world chose to translate the phrase “sh*thole country.” Because that’s something news outlets had to do today. Because the President of the United States said it.
In France, several outlets went with “pays de merde.”
The phrase translates literally to “sh*tty countries,” meaning the French didn’t rely on any euphemisms.
But they also didn’t include the word “hole,” which I think results in it lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.
Some Spanish outlets used “países de porquería,” or “trash countries.”
There were also a few who took the same route as the French and used “países de mierda.”
That literally means “countries of sh*t,” but is more colloquially understood as “f*cking countries.”
The Germans focused more on the “hole” part of “sh*thole”…