January 15, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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Debbie Hall




How to Express the Offending Word



The world’s language services are abuzz—

how best to translate the word shithole

for their media, how to properly pair it with countries

so that there is no question this is a sharp insult,

as in: to treat with contemptuous rudeness; or to attack,

assault, in the archaic form. In Africa, a chosen object

of the epithetic assault, some have chosen gentler forms

of translation, as in mataifa chafu, meaning “dirty countries.”  

One Japanese news service paints a grittier picture,

choosing kusottare, meaning “dripping with excrement,”

while others settle for “filthy” or “outdoor toilets.”

Peru’s Radio Programas favors agujeros de porqueria,

or “holes of filth.” In Croatia, vukojebina hews

closely to shithole’s intended meaning, though

some note vukojebina may also be translated into English

as “where the wolves fornicate,” used colloquially

to refer to places far from civilization, as in

the space occupied by those who would hurl

insults such as shithole countries.



In respone to the Associated Press article ‘World Media Struggle to Translate Trump’s Africa Insult‘ 






Debbie Hall

Debbie Hall is a psychologist and writer whose poetry has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, A Year in Ink, Serving House Journal, Sixfold, Tuck Magazine, Bird’s Thumb and other journals. She has work upcoming in AROHO and the Main Street Rag. Her essays have appeared on NPR (This I Believe series), in USD Magazine, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She recently received an honorable mention in the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize and completed her MFA at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. She is the author of What Light I Have (2017, Main Street Rag).

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