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!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Would you vote for someone who doesn't value translation skills?

It takes the BBC to out US Democratic candidates for using machine translation and unqualified bilingual volunteers to translate their web sites. Burn. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

the wage gap: la brecha salarial

The whole phrase would be gender wage gap and brecha salarial de genero, but if you see just brecha salarial it usually means this, not a racial wage gap (which also exists). This blog post is in honor of Stephen Moore, another astoundingly awful Trump nominee that was thankfully stopped by our general outrage. This time Trump nominated for a top economic position (Federal Reserve Board) a man who is concerned that 'male wages' are falling - not that 'women's wages' aren't rising. God forbid we should have gender pay equity. On average women in the US earn 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns. It gets much worse if you take race into account, see the infographics here. The world average is that women earn 24% less, in Colombia it's 28% less. Over a lifetime this seriously adds up.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

animalista: animal rights activist

animalista: animal rights activist (or supporter?)

This image comes from this post, which explains the movimiento animalista.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

el monte: the bush (or the backwoods)

el monte: the bush (or the backwoods)

I lean towards the bush, I think the connotation is closer. Along those lines, I render romper monte as bushwhacking. I recently saw el monte rendered as just 'the woods,' which I think is a bit off, but it was in this excellent article comparing how the Colombian government is trying to remake both victims and demobilizing guerrillas, which I recommend.

Not sure what bushwhacking is? Read this masochist's guide to bushwhacking, where I got this photo.  It's really much better done with a machete in hand, which rompiendo monte always seems to involve. Just imagine a campesino wearing a helmet like this to do it!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

organicos might be a false cognate

Yes, it might mean organic, but used alone it is more likely to mean compost. I was impressed that Barcelona had compost pick up on the street. Apparently Madrid does too. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tilde Language Justice Cooperative

I added a link to the Tilde Language Justice Cooperative to the collection of links of 'other folks committed to making movements more multilingual' on the left side of this blog (if you're not looking at it on a phone). There are some fabulous people in that list, check them out and let me know if I'm missing anyone. Proud to be part of this movement across movements.

And check out this service that Tilde provides. Let's do more of this in other places!

~ multilingual capacity building ~

"tilde provides consulting services for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, government entities, and others seeking to increase their multilingual capacity. Drawing on its decades of experience working in nonprofit, social movement, agency, and other settings, tilde can assist any group to maximize resources and improve its capacity to create more linguistically democratic spaces. tilde also offers participatory trainings to meet a wide range of needs, including interpreter skill building and best practices for multilingual spaces."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Translation and LGBT+/Queer activism

This is not one of my normal term translations, but a call for papers. Even if you have no interest in writing such a thing, you might find the list of references at the end on activist translation interesting.

Translation and LGBT+/Queer activism

Guest Editors: Michela Baldo (University of Hull), Jonathan Evans (University of Portsmouth) and Ting Guo (University of Exeter)

Special issue of Translation and Interpreting Studies
The Journal of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association

This special issue will focus on the role that translation plays in global LGBT+/Queer activism. It will analyze the practices of translation as part of activism within lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and asexual and/or allied movements, that is social movements that advocate for LGBT+ people’s rights, but it will also explore translation as part of queer activism, which emerged out of the AIDS campaigns of groups such as ACT UP and Queer Nation in the late eighties and early nineties in USA. Rather than mobilizing for the extension of legal rights to sexual minorities, queer activism has sought to undermine the reproduction of heterosexual social norms, using the concept of queer to destabilize dominant models of knowledge and power (Baer and Kaindl 2017). More specifically, queer activism, since its inception, has sought to fight the limitations perceived in the traditional identity politics of LGBT+ groups. While the queer activism of the early nineties focused more on the violence against sexual minorities, later strands of queer activism that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s developed close links with the alter-globalization movement (Shepard and Hayduk 2002), put more emphasis on antiauthoritarian, anti-capitalist practices and transnationalism (Brown 2015), and on the concept of the body, against the theoretical excesses of the first-wave white Anglo queer theory (Espineira and Bourcier 2016).

Despite the recent interest in studies of translation and activism (Baker 2006, 2015; Tymoczko 2007, 2010), testified by the coinage of the expression “activist turn” in translation studies (Wolf 2012), and the surging interest in studies on queer aspects of translation, attested by recent edited collections (Spurlin 2014; Gramling and Dutta 2016; Epstein and Gillett 2017; Baer and Kaindl 2017), queer activist translation practice is an area which remains understudied in translation and interpreting studies. While the term activist remains ‘ill-defined’ (Baker 2018: 453), we understand it here as an activity that aims for political or social change, and activist translation as translation that is undertaken as part of such an activity. Although some activist translations might be initiated by isolated individuals, activist translators are usually networked with other translators and activists in common enterprises (Tymoczko 2010), for example in the fight against war, racism, transphobia, sexism, gender violence, capitalism, environmental pollution, etc. Consequently, not all translation of queer texts or materials is activist: our focus is on translation as (part of) a political or social intervention aimed at causing change.

This issue will address the gap between research on activism in translation and queer practices of translation. It will concentrate on both how the notion of translation can inform the analysis of transnational LGBT+/Queer activism and also on how theorizations of queer can enrich studies of activist translation. We would like to ask how the idea of ‘queerness’, being a North American and European construct, has been translated in other activist scenarios outside of these geographical areas (Domínguez Ruvalcaba 2016). By investigating global approaches to the intersections between queer, translation and activism, we expect the special issue to deepen understandings of the relationships between these issues and global flows of culture, theory and science. By taking into account the inherent geopolitical inequalities that impact on the practice of translation, as well as queer of color critique, queer diasporas and queer migration studies (Muñoz 1999; Ferguson 2003; Gopinath 2005; Luibhéid 2008) and transgender studies, we are interested in exploring the involvement of queer activism with migrations, neoliberalism, citizenship and nationality. One line of enquire could be how activist translation of LGBT+/Queer materials chooses what areas to focus on (gay men, cis lesbians, white queer middle class culture, etc.) or exclude, and how these choices then affect understandings of LGBT+/Queer in the host culture.

We are also interested in exploring what insights LGBT+/Queer activism’s focus on sexuality can add to existing studies of translation and activism. More specifically we argue that issues explored in translation and activism such as ideology, horizontality, non-hierarchy, collaboration and pluralism might not be sufficient to account for LGBT+/Queer scenarios and that we need to also draw on the notions of desire, precarity and affect, among others. These notions, investigated by queer theory (Berlant 2011, Ahmed 2004), by some of the studies of queer translation abovementioned (Gramling and Dutta 2016; Baer and Kaindl 2017) and especially by queer transfeminism, that is feminism informed by transgender politics (Bettcher and Stryker 2016), can offer a more nuanced account of how these activist collectives and individuals operate. Borrowing Basile’s (2017) concept of queer translation as the intimate and vulnerable encounter between languages (skins, surfaces) which exposes their interdependence, we are interested in exploring, for example, how this concept could be applicable to queer transfeminist activism or other intersectional forms of LGBT+/queer activism.

Our focus in this issue is not only the themes translated by LGBT+/queer activist groups and individuals but also questions of how translation is understood, performed and disseminated. We put emphasis on how “queerness” affects translation epistemologies, that is what counts as translation, how it affects translation methodologies, and how it affects translation reception or how translation impacts on society at large. Special emphasis will be given thus to the performative aspect of activist translation: its capacity to produce transformation.

For this issue of Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS), the guest editors invite contributions that address diverse types and locations of LGBT+/queer translational activism. We welcome papers on literary translation (including prose and poetry), specialized translation, interpreting, audiovisual translation or translation of theatre/performances. Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following lines of research:

1.                  Fansubbing or fandubbing and LGBT+/Queer activism
2.                  Textual and paratextual strategies in LGBT+/Queer activist translation
3.                  The dissemination of translations by LGBT+/Queer activist translators
4.                  LGBT+/Queer activist translation and performativity
5.                  LGBT+/Queer activist translation and neoliberalism
6.                  Transfeminism and activist translation
7.                  Queer of color critique and activist translation
8.                  Queer migration and activist translation
9.                  Queer diasporas and activist translation
10.              The translation of scientific studies of sexuality by LGBT+/Queer activists
11.              The subtitling and dubbing of LGBT+/Queer film festivals and its relation to activism
12.              Sociological analysis of LGBT+/ Queer activist groups of translators/interpreters
13.              LGBT+/Queer activism and affect
14.              LGBT+/Queer activism and desire
15.              How translation practices can gender or otherwise circumscribe notions of queerness or LGBT+ identity
16.              Theorizing queer activist translation

Submission Guidelines

Authors interested in contributing to this special thematic issue should submit an abstract (400–500 words) to the three guest editors:

Michela Baldo (
Jonathan Evans (
Ting Guo (

Please include a brief bionote about the author(s) and their university affiliation(s) in a separate file.

All abstracts and manuscripts should adhere to the Translation and Interpreting Studies style guide (

Authors of abstracts that are accepted for consideration will be invited to submit a full manuscript that is between 5000 and 6500 words in length, exclusive of bibliography. Every manuscript will be submitted to double-blind peer review.

Timeline for Authors

Abstracts (400-500 words) due to guest editors
1 February 2019
Decisions on abstracts
1 March 2019
Submission of full manuscripts
1 September 2019
Decisions to authors
1 February 2020
Final version of paper due (based on reviews)
1 August 2020
Final versions of papers to journal from guest editors
1 October 2020
Publication of special issue
Summer 2021


Ahmed, Sara. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York and London: Routledge.

Baer, Brian and Klaus Kaindl. eds. 2017. Queering Translation, Translating the Queer. Theory, Practice, Activism. New York and London: Routledge.

Baker, Mona. 2006. Translation and Conflict. New York and London: Routledge.
---------------. ed. 2015. Translating Dissent: Voices From and With the Egyptian Revolution. New York and London: Routledge.
---------------. 2018. “Audiovisual translation and activism.” In Luis Pérez-González (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation, 453-467. Abingdon: Routledge.

Basile, Elena. 2017. “A Scene of Intimate Entanglements, or, Reckoning with the ‘Fuck’ of Translation.” In Brian James Baer and Klau Kaindl (eds) Queering Translation, Translating the Queer, 26-37. New York and London: Routledge.

Berlant, Lauren. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press.

Bettcher Talia and Susan Stryker. eds. 2016. Trans/Feminisms. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 3 (1-2).

Brown, Gavin. 2015. “Queer Movement.” In David Paternotte and Manon Tremblay (eds) Ashgate research companion in Lesbian and Gay Activism, 73-88. London and New York: Routledge.

Domínguez Ruvalcaba, Héctor. 2016. Translating the Queer: Body Politics and Transnational Conversations. London: Zed.

Epstein, B. J. and Robert Gillett. eds. 2017. Queer in Translation. New York and London. Routledge.

Espineira, Karine and Marie-Hélène/Sam Bourcier. 2016. “Transfeminism. Something Else. Somewhere Else.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1–2): 84- 94.

Ferguson, Roderick A. 2003. Aberrations in Black: Toward a queer of color critique.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Gopinath, Gayatri. 2005. Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press

Gramling, David and Aniruddha Dutta. eds. 2016. Translating Transgender. Special issue of TSQ Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3 (3-4).

Luibhéid, Eithne. ed. 2008. Queer/Migration. Special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 14 (3-4).

Muñoz, José Esteban. 1999. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Pérez-González, Luís. 2014. Audiovisual Translation: Theories, Methods and Issues. New York and London: Routledge.

Shepard, Benjamin and Ron Hayduk. eds. 2002. From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban protest and community building in the era of globalization. London: Verso.

Spurlin, William J. ed. 2014. The Gender and Queer Politics of Translation: Literary, Historical, and Cultural Approaches. Special issue of Comparative Literature Studies 51.2.

Tymoczko, Maria. 2007. Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.
--------------. ed. 2010. Translation, Resistance, Activism. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.

Wolf, Michaela. 2012. ‘The sociology of translation and its “activist turn”. Translation and Interpreting Studies 7(2): 129-143.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

trickle-down economics: economía de goteo

trickle-down economics: economía de goteo = "quienes poseen el capital dejan caer gotas de su riqueza para beneficiar a los de abajo"

Duque, the newly elected right-wing president of Colombia, won in some part by repeating lies about trickle-down economics that he learned from US Republicans.  As argued by Luis Carlos Reyes in a recent NYT op-ed:

"... claimed that the Colombian government was bloated and that taxation levels were extremely high. Americans are used to hearing this canard when discussing their own tax system, and those who bother to look up the statistics know this to be false: Whereas average tax revenues in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries are around 34 percent of the gross domestic product, in the United States they hover around 26 percent. It is downright alarming, then, that the same claim could be successfully made in a country like Colombia, where tax revenues are a modest 20 percent of a much smaller GDP, well below O.E.C.D. and Latin American averages.
The president-elect Mr. Duque adopted the Republican rhetoric according to which “job creators” are treated unfairly, and he campaigned for tax reductions for these “creadores de empleo.” The fact of the matter, however, is that the rich receive preferential treatment, and even more so in Colombia than in the United States.

In 2010 — the latest year for which data in Colombia are available — the effective tax rate paid by the top 1 percent of income earners was 11.5 percent, a bargain compared with the 23 percent paid by the top 1 percent in the United States during that same year. ...."

Isis Giraldo here offers a more detailed analysis of how this retrograde ideology is being used to deepen inequality in Colombia, which regularly ranks in the top 5 or 10 most unequal countries in the world. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Contraloría [Col]: Comptroller

Well, really the Comptroller General's Office, but for simultaneous you could just use the Comptroller. This is an office that does not exist in all countries, but is part of the fourth branch of government in Colombia - the public ministries that have oversight over the rest of the government. These also include the Defensoría (Human Rights Ombudsman) and the Procuraduría (Inspector General). I regularly hear these terms misinterpreted into English by folks who don't know the Colombian system of governance.

Latest bad news from the Comptroller: Colombia's peace process is $25 billion short.