People Thought Merkel Was Shading Trump, But She Actually Got Mistranslated

Basket of difficult translations.

Posted on

On Saturday, Merkel confirmed that the other 19 members of the G20 had reaffirmed their commitment to the deal — but she also had some thoughts on Trump's decision to leave the agreement.

Angela Merkel on the US leaving the Paris Accord: "I deplore this"

Here's how the English translation on CNN and other news channels carried her remarks:

You are familiar with the American position, you know that unfortunately — and I deplore this — the United States of America left the climate agreement or rather said, announced their intention of doing this.

One word, "deplore", particularly captured the public's imagination.

Hmmmm why does it sound familiar?

That's cause it reminded some people of a statement Hillary Clinton made during the 2016 election.

Remember this?

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that.

That statement, said by Clinton at a fundraiser in New York City, infuriated many Trump supporters, who saw it as a dismissal of them as terrible people.

@ambiej @swbrohoney A) ditto. B) she absolutely used "deplore" on purpose. 😂

Sometimes, it was the opening paragraph of the news story, like in this HuffPost story:

Here's what she said in her native German:

"Sie wissen, die USA sind bedauerlicherweise aus dem Klimaabkommen ausgetreten – beziehungsweise haben gesagt, dass sie das wollen."

So the word "bedauerlicherweise" is the one that got translated as "deplore" by the translator. Except, it really means "regretfully" or "unfortunately" or "sad to say."

Based on an updated translation from our friends at BuzzFeed Germany, this is what Merkel actually said: "You know that the US, unfortunately, left the climate agreement – or have said, that they want to."

And not, as the G-20 translator said: "You are familiar with the American position, you know that unfortunately, and I deplore this, the United States of America left the climate agreement or rather said, announced their intention of doing this."

A German government official confirmed to Buzzfeed News that the updated translation was correct.

So, long story short: translation is tough, particularly when it's being done live and Merkel isn't actually making deplorable jokes.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Contact Amber Jamieson at amber.jamieson@buzzfeed.com.

Contact Marcus Engert at Marcus.Engert@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.