Wednesday, October 28, 2020

sanism: cuerdismo

sanism: cuerdismo

According to the urban dictionary "The social, legal, or institutional discrimination against individuals who are mentally ill/neurodivergent, or who may be considered "not sane" by society's standards. This can often cross over into ableism." (translation of ableism here)

Thanks to my stepmom Helen for checking me on my past over-frequent use of the adjective crazy. Often bizarre is a good replacement and better captures what I'm trying to say.

Many thanks again to Andrea Parra for this translation.

Friday, September 11, 2020

CAI (Bogotá): police kiosk

CAI stands for comando de accion imediata, but that won't mean anything to readers if you translate literally. They are actually tiny police kiosks around the city, usually just one room buildings standing in parks and plazas. I saw this rendition in the Guardian coverage of the protests the last two nights. If you haven't been reading and sharing news about the protests, please do. An international response could help. See my twitter feed @spaceforpeace for more.

My favorite response to the CAI burning was this:

Thursday, August 20, 2020

swords into ploughshares: espadas en rejas de arado

Having grown up as (and still practicing as) a silent Quaker I don't know much religious terminology in either language. I don't expect that I ever will but there are a few biblical turns of phrase that often come up in social justice work that seem worth knowing. This one comes from:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4).

Forjarán sus espadas en rejas de arado, y sus lanzas en podaderas. No alzará espada nación contra nación, ni se adiestrarán más para la guerra.

Of course there are LOTS of different versions of the bible.  Check out the many versions of just this verse here. Some of those use just espadas en arados - swords into ploughs. I certainly think that is clearer and makes more sense - but I don't think it's what people are used to hearing, in either language. 

But then again, maybe people are getting more used to more updated versions - such as these used by Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia:

Monday, August 10, 2020

more zoom simul tips

In my last post about simultaneous interpreting on zoom I said that it cost $200 a month for the interpreting channel. That was wrong. Many thanks to Ron Garcia-Fogarty and the spectacular tilde language justice cooperative for explaining how it can be done for $55 a month (and less if shared). As he explained it:

"It works like this: Zoom Pro is $15/month or $150/year, and the webinar add-on is an additional $40/month or $400/year. It's listed (not very clearly) as the first bullet point in pre-requisites on their website. So anyone who already has Pro, just needs to purchase the webinar add-on to have access to zoom with interpretation. And what we do is we pass along that cost to clients who want to be able to use it, by charging $25 per use for short meetings or $50 per day for longer events."

Ron also very generously shared handouts that tilde uses to make video simul work better, which I have taken way too long to post. These include visual, verbal, and chatbox text instructions for participants, checklists for interps and for tech support, and more. You can find them here.

If anyone has any other suggestions or or resources I would love to share them here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

whiteness: blanquedad or blanquitud?

I have been using blanquedad, but recently I've been seeing blanquitud more often. So I did a google hits check, a trick that I often use when translating (or when I'm serving as the backup interpreter) and considering different options. It turns out that blanquedad only has 7,280 hits while blanquitud has 91,500. The hits on blanquedad are decent sources (sometimes they will all be clearly translations using false cognates) but still, I am going to shift to blanquitud since it is more widely used online. Thoughts? Comments?

These thoughts brought to you thanks to the article below, which is based on the Latin American wide PERLA survey that uses the color palette I mentioned a few weeks ago in the black and brown post. If you are interested in reading it and don't have access just ask me for a copy. 

Vásquez-Padilla, Darío Hernán, and Castriela Esther Hernández-Reyes. “Interrogando la gramática racial de la blanquitud: Hacia una analítica del blanqueamiento en el orden racial colombiano.” Latin American Research Review 55, no. 1 (March 19, 2020): 64–80.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

zoom simul tips

I recently did my first zoom simultaneous interpreting gig. Some of the ways we set it up might be useful for you. First let me say I realize that not a lot of groups can pay $200 a month for zoom pro to have the interpreter channel in zoom, so I know many are doing the workaround of having the source language on zoom and the target language on jitsi or skype. I'm not going to speak to the tech of that here, but want to point to the extra challenge that poses. If you are doing simultaneous 'terping in a zoom interpretation channel with a colleague these tricks might help.

Because this was a webinar with an active chat channel where our comments would get lost even if we directed them to each other, the interpretation team (me, my colleague, our terp tech support person) opened a google chat and had it running on the side of our screen. We all muted that tab on our browser so that texts would not ding.

I tried to mute all things around me that ever ding and go off on my computer and around me. I managed to miss my iPad though - so really think that one through!

Our tech support person helped me make sure I didn't have my ceiling fan or distracting wall notes in my frame. 

I logged in to the event as a panelist on my desktop, which was where I interpreted. I just used my built-in desktop mike which worked fine. I logged in again as an audience member on my laptop so that I could listen to my colleague during his stints. I had large headphones that I used for the desktop and little earbuds for the laptop. While my colleague was interpreting I had one earbud in one ear and the headphones in the other ear so that I could hear both his interpreting and the source language. If there was a difficult term I fed it to him in the google chat. I also used this to note how he was rendering certain terms so that I could keep them consistent when we switched.

We switched every 15 minutes. Whoever was backup would have their camera off (and obviously be muted). The backup terp was responsible for keeping track of time and when it hit 15 would turn their camera back on. The working terp would then wait until the end of a thought or phrase and wave and point to let the backup terp know to keep going. They would then turn their camera off.

We were interpreting for a presentation by Valarie Kaur to the Friends General Conference. I was so inspired by her and deeply honored to get to interpret her message of revolutionary love. I'm excited to read her new book See No Stranger, which is just out.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

black and brown bodies

I was stumped by this for a recent zoom simul gig where my speaker was in the US but my listeners were in Latin America. In a pinch I used cuerpos negros y morenos, but I know that doesn't quite work. In some areas of Colombia moreno is understood as having some African heritage, in others it's not. This has actually been a contentious issue for the census, with Afro-Colombian groups asking that the term be used to increase self-identification as Afro-Colombian and the census refusing to consider it a term for Afro-Colombianness (Paschell 2013). At any rate, I'm looking for a better option that, again, works not just in the US but in Latin America. Obviously, there is no such thing as neutral Spanish that will work across all countries, but I'm looking for something that will work in lots of contexts.

Friends have suggested:
- cuerpos negros y con tono de piel oscura 
- cuerpos negros y oscuros
- cuerpos negros y no blancos
- cuerpos negros y de color

What do you think readers? Any other good options out there?

Note: the image is from the PERLA project, where they went around Latin America and asked people to identify what color they were on this palette. Interviewers also marked their own read of what color the person was. For full results see Telles (2014).

Paschel, Tianna. “‘The Beautiful Faces of My Black People’: Race, Ethnicity and the Politics of Colombia’s 2005 Census.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 36, no. 23 (2013): 1544–63.

Telles, Edward. Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

somos gente de chagra: we cultivate the jungle

Amazonian chagras are such a rich cultural concept that they are hard to convey simply so I was impressed by this rendition, which I saw in the subtitles to this powerful 10 minute documentary about indigenous Siona
deminers in the Amazon, featured in the New Yorker. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

car protest: bocinatón

Car protests, car rallies, car caravan actions, or my favorite English term, honk-ins, aren't new, but they're certainly suddenly more common as a safer way to protest together. Sometimes people drive slowly around a target (like an immigration detention center, or City hall), sometimes they park all around it and honk.

I will admit that I just cooked up the term bocinatón for them, inspired by the recent velatón actions in Colombia. I was happy though to find several uses of it when I googled it - all from Chile from several years ago but hey, the term might spread more widely now. I would be curious to hear what else folks are using.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

desmercantilizar: decommodify

Es hora de desmercantilizar la vida!
It's time to decommodify life!

Thanks to Lorena Zarate for this one.

Of course the term decommodification means different things to different people. It's one of the ten principles of burning man, and explained by Caveat here, where they say:

"When we commodify we seek to make others, and ourselves, more like things, and less like human beings.   “Decommodification,” then, is to reverse this process.  To make the world and the people in it more unique, more priceless, more human."

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Amediero (Col): sharecropper

I stumbled on this one in the official UN translation of the Colombian peace accord, where they give it the following footnote:

"“Amediero” means a farmworker who partly (a medias) cultivates the land in the sense that he
shares the produce with the landowner" (page 90 of the translation)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

chuzadas (Col) : wiretaps

There is yet another surveillance scandal in Colombia. It involves various forms of electronic surveillance, not just the phone tapping that the term wiretap tends to imply, but the term surveillance is so much more formal than chuzada that I lean to using wiretap. But I'm curious to hear if others have a broader but still informal term to suggest. Here's a great short video on why this scandal matters.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

biketivism: biciactivismo

I learned this one from Paola Castañeda, who has a new article out about biketivism and the right to the city in Bogotá in Antipode.

The map here is an image of all of the streets that are bike only in Bogotá on Sunday mornings, thanks to biketivists. I particularly love that there are fresh orange juice vendors on the sidewalks regularly along the way.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

paco (Chile): pigs not police

One of the most inspiring things this year has been the violador en tu camino phenomena - but I have frequently seen paco, in the original, translated into English as police. That changes both the register and the feel of it. Instead I would suggest cops, pigs, popo, five-0, or some other slang version that feels right in your context - but not the police. Sidenote: the black band over the eyes is a reference to all of the Chilean protesters who have lost their eyes in the recent protests. Hideously it seems that Colombian riot police have taken up that tactic of the pacos and lately are likewise aiming at the eyes of protesters. Pigs.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

how to subtitle your street action!

I am so inspired by how this powerful feminist art protest action has traveled around the world. This version was done in Sheffield, and check out the fabulous way that they offered subtitles!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

climate emergency: emergencia climática

"El Parlamento Europeo declaró este jueves la "emergencia climática" en la Unión Europea, convirtiéndose así en el primer continente en hacerlo, a unos días del inicio de la cumbre del clima de Madrid (COP25). ...."

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

la manada: the pack or the wolf pack?

In much of the English language coverage of the recent hideous court decision about this case it is being translated as wolf pack, but I would have just rendered it as the pack. Can't manada be for various sorts of animals?

"Tranquila, hermana, aquí esta tu manada" chant the fabulous women in this video, protesting the ruling in the 'la manada' case, where a judge in Barcelona just ruled that it's not rape if a woman is passed out.  The men who gang raped the 14 year old then posted pictures of it on social media, calling themselves 'la manada'.

When I was in Barcelona last December I saw this protest graffiti:

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

how (and why) to insist on correcting those who misuse the term translation

When we conflate and confuse translation (written) with interpretation (oral) we dumb down our ability as a movement to understand and address our different language needs.

These are two related but different skills. You would not assume someone good at writing was good at public speaking, nor conflate those two. Why would you then when those same tasks are made more complex? 

Monday, October 14, 2019

municipio and municipality are false cognates

I am both a geographer and a translator, so this is a total geek out. In English municipalities are only urban and don't usually have political units inside them (boroughs are a rare exception). Municipios are often rural, or a mix of urban and rural, quite large, and have all sorts of other units inside them (veredas, corregimientos, etc). Municipios are much more like US counties, but counties seem to be much larger in the UK so I'm not sure if the term would still hold for a UK audience. There are 48 counties in the UK; 1,122 in Colombia; and 3,007 in the US. Some Canadian provinces have counties, so it should work for Canadians. Australians used to have counties but apparently generally don't know the term today.

If you're trying to reach a global English speaking audience local is another fudge option. If you are talking about, say, the unidad para las victimas del municipio, it might work to render this just as the local unit for victims. 

Of course if you're translating not interpreting you can use the false cognate and include a translator's footnote - but how many people will really read and remember it? 

The image here is a map of the Oct 2016 vote on the Colombian peace accord by municipio made by  Carlos Felipe Reyes.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019


NN appears on far too many anonymous graves in Colombia. I was surprised to see it described as meaning nunca nadie (which they translated as never nobody but I would have rendered as never anybody) in this article about what they describe as the low intensity warfare waged against the homeless in Colombia.  This sent me looking for what NN actually comes from, and wikipedia says that it stands for the Latin nomen nescio "(literalmente “desconozco el nombre”). En español suele interpretarse como Ningún Nombre y en inglés como No Name." The poetic rendition used in the article fits their topic well, but I would stick to no name when interpreting.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

gendered: generizada

I am gendered as woman (generizada como mujer) and racialized as white (racializada como blanca). Though actually in the US and Canada my whiteness is usually invisibilized and I am not racialized at all, only people of color are seen as having a race. My whiteness is hypervisible in Colombia, but I'm still not sure the term racialized quite applies since only darker skinned people are seen as having a race. Indeed they are the only categories under race on the Colombian census. But I'm off track. I was reminded of these two words, and the power of talking of these as ongoing processes as opposed to fixed one and done categories, by the fabulous compilation Tejiendo de Otro Modo: Feminismo, epistemología y apuestas descoloniales en Abya Yala. The entire book is available free online as a pdf here.  

Oh, the book also cites Ochy Curiel using the term etnizadas (p. 26), and yes, ethnicized is a word in English.

Monday, June 24, 2019

queer: queer o cuir

More and more I've been seeing queer imported into Spanish spelled as cuir. When I went looking for discussions of this I found an interesting argument for using queer theory without using the term itself at all.

Susana Vargas Cervantes writes, "En América Latina, como respuesta crítica por decolonizar el término, académicas y activistas han optado por escribirlo en español, como suena fonéticamente: cuir. Esto representa un intento muy válido, pero la resistencia en el desplazamiento de esta enunciación es a partir de un término aprendido en relación al queer anglosajón.

Ni queer ni cuir tienen un sentido cultural local. Tanto para los grupos académicos como para los activistas, el termino queer es un anglicismo. El sujeto que enuncia, desde la academia o el activismo, el acto performativo “Soy queer” o “ Soy cuir” revela una posición de privilegio –en México, por lo general, asociado con la “blancura”– porque manifiesta el acceso a educación y capital cultural. Así, este acto de habla performativo en México es inseparable, además de la identidad de género y sexual, de la clase y, en cierto sentido y por tanto, de la tonalidad de piel. La identidad queer no está constituida, entonces, a partir de un mismo acto performativo en Estados Unidos y Canadá como en México o América Latina.

Ahora bien, me gustaría dejar claro que, más que defender la puridad de los términos, con este análisis estoy argumentando que en México la iterabilidad del término queer es limitada, así como su poder de citacionalidad que deriva en su potencial político y su capacidad para socializarse y reiterarse. Estoy sugiriendo movernos de la expectativa de que un término, tal como queer, y su lucha por resistirlo como cuir, contenga toda una discusión acerca de la subjetividad y los procesos de subjetivación.

Más que centrarnos en una discusión sobre cómo traducir de mejor manera el término queer en un contexto cultural diferente al de su origen, el debate en México y América Latina gana más si nos concentramos en cómo adoptar las principales teorías performativas de género y sexo y, más que nada, en cómo adaptarlas a diferentes contextos culturales. ¿Cómo se puede adoptar y adaptar la teoría y la metodología queer, teniendo en cuenta su colonialismo cultural e intelectual, sin privar a la academia de América Latina de una poderosa fuente política de movilización? Me inquieta también esta pregunta en estos momentos históricos: ¿cómo generamos y utilizamos términos para un movimiento de solidaridad transnacional de sexualidades periféricas?"

Sunday, June 16, 2019

the enslaved: las esclavizadas y los esclavizados

the enslaved: las esclavizadas y los esclavizados

Calling people enslaved rather than slaves highlights both their humanity and the ongoing work required for enslavement. It denaturalizes slavery and the condition of enslavement. This shift in language parallels the shift to using the term racialized.

I was reminded of the Spanish version of it in this inspiring video in which the fabulous Ochy Curiel describes decolonial feminisim.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

permaneceremos: we will not be moved

permaneceremos: we will not be moved

This one comes from Roosbelinda Cardenas in her fantastic and moving article in The Nation about attacks on Francia Marquez (in photo) and other Afro-Colombian human rights defenders. It's well worth the read!