I came across an article in Der Spiegel, in which a translation of Donald Trump's tweet was made. Here is the sentence from the article that provides some context:

Mit einem Stern vor Banknoten, der dem Davidstern ähnelt, wollte Donald Trump seine Rivalin Hillary Clinton als korrupte Politikerin darstellen.

Here's the image that appeared in Donald Trump's original tweet (the one to the right):

enter image description here

After that image draw some criticism, Donald Trump tweeted:

"Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!"

Der Spiegel translated the above tweet in this manner:

"Die verlogenen Medien", so der Milliardär, "geben ihr Bestes, um einen Stern in einem Tweet zum Davidstern zu machen und zum Sheriff-Stern oder ganz normalen Stern."

So, is the translation correct? Der Spiegel translates "rather than" as "und". With such a translation the sentence seems to be unclear.

  • 18
    Yes, that blurb was translated wrong. I don't think it makes any more sense if translated right, though.
    – tofro
    Jul 5, 2016 at 7:29
  • 7
    @tofro Well, the current translation doesn't make any sense at all. [..] a Star of David and a Sheriff's Star or plain star is meaningless. That said, Trump's post is nonsense semantically, though not grammatically.
    – Chieron
    Jul 5, 2016 at 10:00
  • 6
    I know it's not the question here, but isn't the translation of dishonest to verlogen a little bit extreme? In my eyes there's quite a difference between verlogen and unehrlich...
    – WayneEra
    Jul 5, 2016 at 14:57
  • 3
    What*'s the left picture, BTW? You're not mentioning anything about it?
    – tofro
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:28
  • 3
    The on-line article has since been corrected: it now reads "zum Davidstern zu machen statt zum Sheriff-Stern oder ganz normalen Stern."
    – TonyK
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:03

3 Answers 3


No, it is not.

The translation should be something like

"Die verlogenen Medien", so der Milliardär, "geben ihr Bestes, um einen Stern in einem Tweet zum Davidstern zu machen als vielmehr/anstatt zu einem Sheriff-Stern oder ganz normalen Stern."

Their translation changes the meaning from "rather than" to "and", so the reader understands that the media wanted to depict the star as all a star of David, a sheriff's and a normal star. Thus the tweet loses its intent.

  • 4
    Vorschlag anstelle von "als vielmehr": "anstatt"
    – tohuwawohu
    Jul 5, 2016 at 8:05
  • 5
    Yes, "rather than" definitely has to be "anstatt", since we're talking about a categorical difference and not one of degree. Jul 5, 2016 at 8:08

On the actual mistake

The translation isn't as bad as others I've encountered. A simple "nicht" ("not") added at the right place makes it a valid (although not accurate) translation:

"Die verlogenen Medien", so der Milliardär, "geben ihr Bestes, um einen Stern in einem Tweet zum Davidstern zu machen und nicht zum Sheriff-Stern oder ganz normalen Stern."

It can be an honest mistake and actually triggered my head-internal auto-correction: I read it as the corrected form and just noted a missing "nicht". Reading lots of low quality texts in different languages kind of hardens you for something as simple. It also carries no connotation making a simple mistake very likely.

More into details

I would see "Die verlogenen" as a somewhat inaccurate translation of "Dishonest". "Unehrliche" much better captures the degree of dishonesty, which Trump accuses them of. Sad to say but this translational mistake carries connotation and could be more than a mistake. While we established that the translation is not good, this can be seen as actual dishonesty. It's still not a lie though. They just overstated their opponent's position. I guess that's a stone Trump (or any politician for that matter) shouldn't be throwing.

For the original media text

Mit einem Stern vor Banknoten, der dem Davidstern ähnelt, wollte Donald Trump seine Rivalin Hillary Clinton als korrupte Politikerin darstellen.

"der dem Davidstern ähnelt" should be translated as "which resembles the Star of David". It's not like they are depicting anything that isn't there. They state an obvious resemblance. The only difference I can make out is that the Star of David is usually just lines and no filled area.

If Sheriff's Stars have six pointy corners, straight edges and are oriented (see text orientation) to rest on a single corner, they do resemble the Star of David, too. I remember Sheriff's Stars with five or six corners, which have small balls instead of points. Those with six corners may still mutually resemble the Star of David and the depicted star.
On one hand plain stars are usually five-cornered, straight-edged and stand on two corners. At least that's the most plain star I've seen yet. Plus it doesn't beg for misinterpretations.
On the other hand it could be plain (like "just") "any star with 6 corners" instead of any "plain star". That would actually make more sense than a Sheriff's Star.

Funny enough


Who else sees the connotation of "Fairytales fabricated."?

(Hi)story => German "Geschichte" => "Geschichten" => Fairytales

made (up) => fabricated

  • 1
    "dishonest" == "verlogen" is admittedly not the first translation that comes to mind - But it is not "inaccurate" as you say - It is entirely correct. Whether it was the original intention of DT, we cannot say (And, thinking about it, there's not much of a difference in meaning between "unehrlich" and "verlogen" - After all, Duden even sees "betrügerisch" as a synonym for "unehrlich" and "unaufrichtig" as one for "verlogen" - Although this differes from my personal sense of gradience of dishonesty ;) ). Apparently, the distinction is not very clear.
    – tofro
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:07
  • 1
    I used "inaccurate" in contrast to "incorrect". The translation of meaning is correct. However I feel there's strong connotation about the magnitude, which the translation doesn't meet accurately. Hence I use "inaccurate". I thought I made that clear with "They just overstated their opponent's position". When translating an opposing point one should be as conservative as possible: "Lying" == "Verlogen", "(Dis)honest" == "(Un)ehrlich". Feel free to edit, if you think you can make that distinction more clear. However I think with translations there's always multiple "valid" interpretations.
    – NoAnswer
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:24
  • Well, the main point of my answer could be more pronounced: It could be a simple mistake (word left out). Any idea how to make that more clear? Feel free to edit. I'd prefer not losing content about connotation, because I consider it an important part of translations although it's often a source of disagreement.
    – NoAnswer
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:33
  • I noticed that I used "very", maybe "somewhat" is a better qualifier in "somewhat inaccurate translation". Problem is with connotations interpretations vary widely. I think there's a remarkable difference between "lying" and being "dishonest". I try to avoid telling something I know is factually wrong (lying) however I do sometimes enjoy implying things so people draw wrong conclusions on their own (dishonest). Not my fault is it? I still tuned that one down to match a less differentiating interpretation, e.g. a less strict definition of lying.
    – NoAnswer
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:43
  • 3
    What a first post! Welcome!
    – Ludi
    Jul 5, 2016 at 18:42

It is not correct. It implies the media tries to depict a sheriff star or normal star. They failed to translate the "rather than".

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