What really happened at G20 Trump’s Conference Interpretation?

From November 30th to December 1st, the 2018 G20 Summit was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At this summit, leaders agreed upon important documents for the economic, financial and political cooperation of the countries. Despite its paramount political importance, we will focus on a communication issue that concerned many people around the world: the interpretation of the welcome speech for Donald Trump.

When the U. S. President arrived in Argentina, he met Mauricio Macri before the beginning of the summit. Both said some words publicly to the media. The President of Argentina started by welcoming Trump.

Surprisingly, Trump suddenly tossed the earpiece all presidents use to listen to the interpretation in their native language and expressed: “I think I understood you better in your language than I did on this. But that’s okay”.

It is essential to pay attention to his exact words “…than I did on this”. The interpreter, however, rendered her interpretation as “I think I understood you better in your language than I did on the interpretation”.

Maybe this choice of words was made from a humble position and the interpreter ended up putting the blame of the awkward moment on her own. In fact, when interpreting, interpreters need to make decisions very quickly and in this case, it backfired on her. But the truth is that there was a technical issue and the earpiece was not actually working correctly.

Fortunately, the Argentine Association of Conference Interpreters (ADICA) explained that there had been a technical problem with the earpiece. A clear evidence of this can be seen on the US Embassy website, where the transcription of this meeting has been posted (check https://ar.usembassy.gov/remarks-by-president-trump-and-president-macri-of-the-argentine-republic-before-bilateral-meeting/). In this official transcript, readers can clearly notice that the US President said: “on this”.

Of course, we can also start debating about the exact reference: is Trump referring to the earpiece or to the interpretation? Nevertheless, “on this” is already a big difference of what had been previously spread in the media.

Interpreting is a serious profession carried out by professionals who may make mistakes; however, it is essential for international cooperation and for spreading knowledge in business meetings, conferences, negotiations, press conferences, and so on. This is another professional service you can get at Baquero Translations.

By: Andrea Chetti