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