Chinese Puzzle Box

Explorations in and about China

Another translation challenge

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In Michigan 

From my friend Tom who teaches occasional classes at Shanghai International Studies University – too good not to share!

Subject: Helping a Chinese Scholar

My friend Professor Wang at Shanghai International Studies University has a contract to translate Never Enough, a biography of Donald Trump. Occasionally Wang asks me questions about obscure American usage.  This email chain contains the latest one.

Begin forwarded message:
Subject: Re: a question again
Date: February 24, 2016 at 5:42:34 PM MST
Dear Wang,
Don’t feel the slightest bit apologetic about not being able to understand “Fuckface von Clownstick” or calling on me for explanations of this and other non-OED terms.  Jon Stewart is a comedian who for years hosted The Daily Show, a mock news and politics show on the Comedy Central Central Channel.  Donald Trump was perfect target for Stewart because Trump is self-important, thin-skinned and never seems to stop saying ill-considered, hateful right wing twaddle designed to get attention for himself. Trump, for example, was a conspicuous “birther” claiming that Obama was not born in the United States.  Stewart made numerous hilarious attacks on Trump and, as he always does, Trump fired insults back at Stewart.  In May of 2013, Stewart hit a nerve by factiously reporting that Trump’s birth certificate shows that Trump’s real name is Fuckface von Clownstick.  “Fuckface” is a nonsense pejorative combination of the verb “fuck” and noun, “face,” that in some circles has come to mean annoying, unacceptable, disgusting…things of that sort.   “von” is a German word for “from” used as a part of an aristocratic family name, similar to “de” in French.  “Clownstick” has no entomology.  Stewart made it up to make his fictional name for Trump more disrespectful, pompous and funnier.  I’ll send support in separate emails.
What an interesting excursion into American English you’ve launched upon.

On Feb 24, 2016, at 4:20 PM, Wang wrote:jonstewart

Dear Tom:

You know I am reading a biography of Donald Trump—Never Enough, where I again find something difficult to comprehend, which you may be bemused but I am totally baffled. What could the phrase— Fuckface von Clownstick, given to Trump by Jon Stewart, possibly mean? The closest possible explanation for it would be……?

To translate words or phrases is difficult enough, let alone translate one culture to another.

Sorry to keep bothering you with all those words or phrases.



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