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News & Events
2018.11.21 President Trump unable to comprehend Japanese journalist
The midterm election in the US is over. Following the election, a news conference was held at the White House on November 7. It has become a hot topic that Trump appeared unable to comprehend a Japanese journalist.

During a press conference when a Japanese journalist asked a question about trade related issues Trump answered with "I have no idea what you are saying" and ignored the question. In the Huffington post it was reported that there must have been a problem with the English spoken by the journalist, perhaps a problem with their accent itself or that Trump did not in fact understand the question being asked, which was not clear from Trump's reply.

If English is your second language, your English speech may be strongly influenced by your mother tongue and will sound different from the English spoken by native speakers. Especially considering a language such as Japanese which often leaves the conclusion ambiguous, leaving up to the listener to have the final interpretation. Although an expression of politeness in Japanese, when translated directly into English, the meaning will often not be conveyed clearly to the listener. Actually, when professional tennis player and the champion of US Open Osaka Naomi returned to Japan this September, she was asked ambiguously about her identity, however due to the way it was asked, it was unclear to her whether they were talking about her own identity of that of themselves, and she was left puzzled.

Speaking a foreign language is more than just replacing words from your mother tongue into the second language. When expressing your intention in a foreign language, you also have to think about how to convey that meaning to the person you are talking to. Interactions between Japanese journalists and Trump can be found on the internet. However, rather than just use this as an opportunity to bash Trump's character, why not consider this an opportunity to think about how hard it actually is to learn a foreign language?
 
https://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2018/11/07/trump-english_a_23583182/?ncid=other_trending_qeesnbnu0l8&utm_campaign=trending

https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASL9F25B4L9FUTQP007.html

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/Trump-says-Japan-treats-U.S.-unfairly-on-trade-by-not-taking-more-American-cars

https://www.huffingtonpost.jp/rio-hamada/naomi-osaka-press-conference_a_23529953/