Monday, December 24, 2007

commodity fetishism

commodity fetishism: fetichismo de la mercancía

commodity is widely rendered as mercancía in academic literature (and in lefty rags, actually ran into this term in the newspaper of the National University here : ) Though I've seen commodity translated differently, this seems the safest bet. Seemed like a good term for this commodity-fest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

people of color

people of color: gente no blanca

This is a term in English that points to the politics of the person using the term, in particular to a recognition that certain people are racialized and the importance of coalition, that is, of making connections between the ways different 'people of color' are racialized The very mainstream variant would be 'ethnic minorities'. It is similar to the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino, in the sense that you can peg someone's politics by what term they use. The literal translation in Spanish, gente de color, might make sense to Latinos in the US that know the term in English, or might even use it in Spanish language anti-racist organizing or coalition work, but it is total non-sense in Latin America. One option that was suggested to me was gente de comunidades etnicas, but again, this does not point to racialization. No, I don't think "race" exists, but racialization is a daily reality, that we have to make visible to be able to change. Terminology is important for this work. (Yes, white folks have a "race" too, but they are not racialized in the same way). (note that the term person of color is rarely used in Canada, where the widely used term, in both government and social justice contexts, is "visible minority").

Thanks to Roberto from Highlander for help on this one. I also asked for help on proz and found that most of the answers were really clueless about the politics of this term and the social justice context, so ojo when using proz for politically charged terms.

My friend Jonathan Luna, who is active in people of color organizing in the States, as well as inter-racial organizing in Colombia, argues for trying to teach/introduce the term gente de color in Latin America, given that it makes more sense to define by what people are than what they are not. I get that logic, and if you were going to try to do that I would suggest putting (todas las personas no blancas) after the first use of the term. I doubt 'gente de color' will ever catch on, but hey, you could try.

Friday, November 30, 2007


sororidad: sisterhood

Certainly not sorority! Maybe there are some feminist sororities out there, but they tend not to be. This term seems to be more and more frequently used by feminists across Latin America, including the Ruta Pacifica that I went on the amazing mobilization with last week. Over 5,000 women shut down the Colombian-Ecuadoran border for an hour and a half! Very thankfully, there was no repression after all. My pictures of it are here.

(hermandad of course could mean both brotherhood and sisterhood, but tends to mean brotherhood, thus the turn to the term sororidad).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

hit the streets

hit the streets: quemar pavimento

This is the first year in many many that I'm not hitting the streets on this weekend to close the School of the Americas. Many thanks and saludos to my fantastic interpreter compas who are there in my place. News, photos and videos of the vigil are up at a the SOA Watch site. This is the largest ongoing protest against U.S. imperialism happening inside the U.S., and the largest ongoing act of civil disobedience in the United States. As far as I know we are the only large outdoor protest in the US to have the entire event interpreted simultaneously into Spanish. I'm very proud to be part of organizing the vigil with the interpretation and translation working group.

I am missing the SOA vigil this year because I'm going to be quemando pavimento in a few days with the Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres, who are caravaning from all across Colombia to the border with Ecuador. Some buses are leaving today, we'll leave Bogota on Wed the 21st, and we'll all meet for a march to the border on Friday the 23rd. Ecuadoran women are marching from the other side to meet us. The march is timed around the international day against violence against women, the 25th. The violence in the border region has gone from bad to worse and streams of Colombians have been displaced into Ecuador. The mobilization is focusing on violence against women on both sides of the border, and how militarism leads to various forms of violence (including hunger, rape, displacement, forced prostitution, domestic violence, child abuse, etc). The Ruta has always emphasized that women are the most affected by war, and the best placed to make peace. They reworks the dynamics of war with poetry, and their peace rituals are beautifully symbolic, visual and theatrical. They will march as women in black, woven together with orange ties of resistance. Photos to come. There is some real chance, ironically, that the march will face a violent response, so please hold us in the light next Friday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Spanglish: Inglañol

Why do we always just leave it as Spanglish? English hegemony just maybe? The googlage difference between these two terms is stunning.

Friday, November 9, 2007

campesino (redux)

campesino: family farmer (campesino)

In my previous entry for campesino I argued for importing, and keeping it as campesino. I still think that in a lot of movement contexts this is best, but in the recent Witness for Peace newsletter (not yet online) I noticed that they used "family farmer". I like this much better than the "small farmer" I gave as the other option to campesino. Obviously "family farmer" has different emotional weight in the U.S. than campesino, and I think it's a wise move for drawing connections and making a political impact. Of course the life of a family farmer in the US is quite different than that of a Colombian campesino, but both are being squeezed out by corporate agribusiness and "free" trade agreements.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


observatorio: watch

Observatorio de racismo, observatorio de genero y justicia, observatorio de inmigracion ... there are tons of them here in Colombia, and all over Latin America and Spain. I've seen this translated into English as observatory, but it seems like a false cognate to me. We don't normally use that term for anything like that in English. We do however have several similar organizations that use the term watch, most notably the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and Amazon Watch (both of which I interpret or translate for). I think the connotation in Spanish is a bit more academic, that is to say that a lot of the observatorios are associated with universities - but observatorios certainly do plenty of lobbying as well, based on the documentation work at the heart of these organizations, both North and South.

Thanks to Andrea for helping me think this through, and my compas on the SOAW interpretation working group. Ojo que some SOA activists have used observadores, but I've been lobbying for observatorio. Not only is it the closer equivalent, but observadores y observadoras de la escuela de las americas is a mouthful.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


cartoneros: urban salvagers

I recently saw a great documentary called Cartoneros, a short version of which is below. They used scavenger for cartonero, but I think salvager has much more dignity to it. Just saw Bryan on subtopia use the term urban salvager, and like that specificity. In Vancouver the term is binner, but that seems very Vancouver specific - other English speakers don't seem to get it. There's actually also a movie about the Vancity binners, called Traplines in Vancouver, made by a French Geographer. The Vancouver binners association has one of my favorite organization names: United We Can. The other term is dumpster diver - which some folks use with great pride, but I don't think is as widely well regarded as salvager.

(ojo que en español Colombiano es reciclador, y, como dice Raul en los comentarios, en Mexicano pepenador, que viene del nahuatl)

Monday, October 22, 2007

organización de base

organización de base: grassroots organization

I've heard the false cognate, base organization, more than once. It's a particularly unfortunate one, again because of the different connotation of the cognate. Base could easily be understood to mean unethical, immoral, or low class.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


militante: activist; fighter

On Friday Democracy Now! covered President Carter calling Cheney a militant. Webster's has a militant listed first as someone who engages in warfare, and second as someone who is combative for their cause. I assume Carter meant the first, and I think it's far and away the stronger association for that term in English, so I often flinch when I hear interps going into En render militante with its cognate - because usually in our contexts the Sp speakers are not talking about being guerilla fighters, and in fact very much do not want to be seen that way (no joke in Colombia where you can be killed for a rumor like that). Usually it seems to me that "activist" is the more appropriate cultural equivalent. And then there are those times when your speaker will say "yo era militante con el Frente" (though really, they'd usually say "yo militaba") and there you go by context. I still wouldn't use militant though. I'd say "I was a fighter with" or "I fought with".

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


walkout: huelga escolar

I like that in Spanish this tactic is more clearly related to a worker's strike - in English it makes it sound like you just leave school, but of course they usually involve a march or a picket. Really, student strike is a better term for it than walkout. The We all live in Jena walkouts a few weeks ago got me thinking about this one. Kudos to Amy Goodman for fantastic coverage of this case on Democracy Now! (you can listen/watch here - the video documentary bits are great descriptions of the case, or you can read the basics of it here. If you haven't signed the petition yet, please do. This case is turning into an important way to highlight how deeply flawed the so-called "justice" system is in the U.S.

Friday, October 5, 2007

even more Evo on the daily show

the day after Evo was on the daily show Jon Stewart made a joke about the interpreting! I can't quite decide if he's saying it was impressive or ... ?! Turns out that it was NOT the same interp he had on Democracy Now. I learned from Adam Isaacson's fantastic Plan Colombia blog that it was Charlie Roberts of the Washington-based Colombia Human Rights Committee. Ok, what other president would use a social justice organizer-interp? Usually presidential interps are, um ... well, not in the trenches of the struggle shall we say.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


animador(a): organizer

This is often mis-translated with the false cognate, and somehow when I hear it I think of that woman on the Love Boat who was trying to get everyone to be happy and social. She was an animator. In the U.S. I render organizer (as in community, or political) as organizador(a), in Colombia I would probably use animadora. Proz and wordref will tell you that animadora means cheerleader, but it will usually be obvious in our contexts that the role is equivalent to organizer. Of course, part of being a good organizer is to cheerlead.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

what are you trying to pull?

Evo Morales is all over the US left media. Jon Stewart had him on the Daily Show! In around minute three he goes over all of his campaign promises, points out that he accomplished them all in 8 months, and asks "What are you trying to pull?" The interpreter totally missed it. (I think it was the same interp - simul here, which was better, but it was still awkward). Henry Hinds, whose name you know if you've ever looked up terms on proz - he's got to be the most prolific answerer - suggests "¿qué es lo que esta tramando?"

Thursday, September 27, 2007


concertacion: concertation; consensus building

Yesterday Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, was on Democracy Now (see it here - and sign up for the fab podcasts or email headlines - in Spanish even). Anyways, Thom Khun was interpreting (though sadly he was not acknowledged, and he struggled to do it consec - it really should have been simultaneous). At one point Thom rendered concertación as concertation. I was convinced this was a false cognate that came out in the heat of the moment, but when I looked it up it does indeed have an English-only googlage of 342,000 - the thing is they're almost all European sites. And, in fact, the Random House definition (via says:
(esp. in European politics) cooperation, as among opposing factions, aimed at effecting a unified proposal or concerted action.
I really doubt that most English speakers in the US will know this meaning. I would vote for consensus building. Other suggestions?
(Jon's right - it can also mean coalition, though I think that's not quite how Evo was using it)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

day laborer

day laborer: jornalero (Mex, and thus used most in US)

the National Day Laborer Organizing Network is the Red Nacional de Jornaleros. Why their site is only in English is a mystery. I guess their own base is unlikely to be looking at it. I'm fascinated by how they tend to gather now not so much at street corners but are moving to the Home Depot parking lots. There's also a freaky counter phenomena of xenophobic folks who go to these parking lots and try to push them out or picket against them. etc - Mike Davis calls this 'crabgrass apartheid'. Anyone want to take a stab at translating that? I don't think he means fake, like astroturf ... more like sprouting up all over. But then, it IS a play on grassroots. Hmm.

Monday, September 24, 2007


squatters: okupas (Spain)

In Spain it seems squatters are more likely to be the young anarchist punk types you're likely to see in a squat in the States and Canada - thus the k in okupas. a squat itself is called a casa okupa or a casa okupada (though my friends from Barcelona say it's usually casa okupa - many thanks to Saray and Guille for this insight and the links). Is this word being used in Latin America? Not sure, the urban squatting scene is pretty different. Certainly no punks in the amazing Bogotá squat movie La estrategia del caracol, which I highly recommend.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC): Instituto de Cooperación para la Seguridad Hemisférica

This is the creepy new world order name that the U.S. Army gave to what they formerly called the School of the Americas (SOA). The movement to shut it down still widely calls it the SOA. This is the army's official translation, which you'll notice doesn't bother to mention *which* hemisphere in Spanish.
WHINSEC is the army's offical acronym. Maybe because they didn't want you to think they were just trying to "WHISC" away the problem by renaming it.

I have been involved in the movement to shut down the SOA for eight years. Interpreting at the annual vigil in front of the school is far and away the most rewarding interpreting I do, I can't recommend it enough. The vigil is amazing (see videos of past years), and as an interpreter you get to be at the heart of it. This year I won't be able to go because I'll be in Colombia marching with the also amazing Ruta Pacifica. Will you please take my place in Georgia? If you have interpreting experience, we can put you up and help with travel costs. Here is the official pro bono help wanted ad. If you can't make it but know someone else who might, please do send it to them. Thanks!

Volunteer Spanish and Sign interpreters and translators

for the School of the Americas demonstration:
Nov. 16-18, 2007 at Ft. Benning, Georgia
from home! any time!

Outraged at our government's support for torture, from Colombia to Iraq? Here is a concrete, powerful short-term way to make a difference. We need your help to expose the School of the Americas, the notorious military training school for Latin American soldiers and police located on U.S. soil, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The School of the Americas, now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC), has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. The school has trained over 61,000 Latin American soldiers. Graduates of the SOA/WHISNEC have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people, and in the past few years, known human rights abusers have returned to the school for further training and instruction.

For more information about the SOA/WHINSEC and SOA Watch, the grassroots movement working to shut it down, visit

This November Vigil is the largest gathering annual gathering against U.S. military empire happening inside the United States. We are committed to creating a truly bilingual space and movement and we need your help this November 16-18!

Do you have experience interpreting or translating?
Make a difference. Make the trip. Be a vital part of this moving and powerful protest.

Don't feel comfortable interpreting but speak Spanish and want to help?
There are also lots of other ways to help!

We need:

  • Simultaneous interpreters - English > Spanish (of all stage program)
  • Consecutive interpreters - Spanish > English (with some En>Sp) (at workshops)
  • Accompaniment interpreters - English <> Spanish (help move around the crowd, make informal connections, less skill required)
  • Spanish speaking media outreach volunteers (make phone calls, translate and edit press releases, etc. all levels of experience welcome)
  • Spanish speaking assistants (does not require high fluency, answer basic questions and hand out interpretation equipment)
  • Sign interpreters (simultaneous on stage)

All interpreting will be done in teams, in short shifts. We may be able to offer housing and help with travel costs for interpreters.

Can't come? Help from home!

We also need:

  • Translators of English > Spanish for a variety of outreach documents.

(Some established translation memory available to those who would like to use it, not required but it makes the job easier! You can use the freeware Wordfast program, which works on top of MS Word, or for those already using other programs the existing TM is compatible through TMX.)

  • Editors and proofers of Spanish translations. (glossary is provided)

If you can contribute in any of these ways please contact:
Joao Da Silva,, 202- 234-3440

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


catracho: Honduran

slang. equivalent to chapin for Guatemalan and guanaco for Savadoran.
(thanks to Andres Thomas Conteris for this one)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


astroturf: movimiento blanco (in Mexico)

A derogatory term used for a movement we don't believe is truly grassroots but consider to be actually a front - usually financed by "the boss", or some other rich dude. has it as: A manufactured grassroots movement in which a small group fakes their numbers to gain attention.
Any ideas about how this gets said in other countries? Maybe just movimiento falso? The thing is, it's not entirely false, it usually has a few believers who aren't necessarily faking numbers so much as getting way more coverage than normal because of money and connections to media, the state, etc..

Friday, September 14, 2007

gender queer

gender queer: no conformista a base de genero

This really just comes from the other way of saying gender queer in English, which is gender non-conformist. As I understand and use this word it's super wide, include trans folks of all stripes, but also just folks who don't identify as trans but don't fit "normal" gendered standards of femininity or masculinity. I learned this fab translation at the U.S. social forum from Roberto Tijerina, who coordinates amazing interpretation for social justice training programs at the Highlander Center. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


squat: casa tomada (o edificio tomado) (or okupa in Spain - see also entry for squatters)

I saw this term used in this semana article on Tanja and liked it. How word geeky is that? Major soap opera about a Dutch woman joining the FARC, and I focus on the word they use for squat. I've been using 'invasion', but I think that gets associated with larger land takeovers, and usually if squat is being used in English, in the North American and European context we're talking about a single house or a building. Interestingly la casa tomada is the title of a famous Cortazar story, but in that case the house is taken over by ghosts. It certainly doesn't get translated into English as the squat, but usually as the House Taken Over. Can ghosts squat?

Monday, September 10, 2007


campesino: campesino (see below for notes on small farmer and/or peasant)

I'm finally back home after all my conferencing. At the Latin American Studies conference I saw a great presentation by Malcolm McNee where he argued that the Via Campesina organizes a broad base, and is building the 'rural multitude'. Well obviously that's academic jargon, I wouldn't use it for interpreting, but I liked the point. On their site they say
"We are the international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers."
That's actually much more than just small farmers, which is the term that I had been using when interpreting (usually just the first time, with campesino, and then I'd just use campesino). I have resisted using peasant because I think that in English it has different connotations than it does in Spanish, particularly problematically it is associated with the past, and pre-modernity. BUT, the Via Campesina, despite their broad definition under who are we, actually uses the term peasant on their English site in the upper right hand corner ("La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement").
Hmm. All in all, the safest bet to me seems to just keep insisting on importing campesino. Pretty much any even vaguely lefty English speaking crowd will get it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


(carbon) offsets: compensaciones (de emisiones)

Sometimes called offsetting projects, which I would render as proyectos de compensacion de emisiones. There is a completely wrong proz definition of offsetting as reducciones. Actually offsets are widely used as an excuse to continue polluting and seem to actually make reducing emissions less of a priority. They function much like the indulgences issued by the Catholic church, clearing you of all guilt. Many of these projects would have happened anyways, without the funding from guilty travelers. Some are sketchy monoculture tree farms, or tree planting programs that have no funding for actually keeping the trees alive. I'm sure there are some good ones out there, but I'm iffy about the whole tactic.

It's all something I'm chewing on as I'm traveling around to academic conferences. I'm currently using wifi on the train from Edinburgh to London - my one feeble attempt to reduce the footprint of this trip. Ironically I'm presenting a paper at the IBG on guilty solidarity. No, not solidarity amongst all of us who are guilty travelers actually, but how guilt shapes solidarity activism by people of privilege, in particular U.S. citizens working in solidarity with Latin Americans to end U.S. empire.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

living wage

living wage: salario digno

living wage is completely misdefined on, which led to great frustration as I tried to explain this concept to colleagues doing translation for Democracy Now! It is NOT a minimum wage, but precisely more than that. It is better defined here

On proz they have living wage translated as salario vital, but I really don't like that rendition. I don't think it's nearly as immediately intelligible.

I came up with salario digno many years ago and have been propagating it amongst movement interps since. I've seen it pop up in all sorts of documents - not sure if others came up with it too, or if I was truly that successful in getting it adopted : )

I'm in Glasgow, Scotland at the moment, and was happy to hear at lunch today that activists in the UK are picking up this tactic, which I believe started in the US, and are pushing to have all of the purchasing associated with the London Olympics be required to offer a living wage. Note though that this term is still new to English speakers over here, and if you're not speaking to a union crowd they may not know it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


able-bodied: persona sin discapacidades

I've been chewing on this one since my first post on ablism. It's really so strange that the opposite for discapacitado isn't capacitado at all, in fact, that's completely off. Maybe capacitadismo really doesn't work. Too bad though, it's so neat and quick.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


netizen: ciudadano internauta

my colleague Tori raised the good point that limited English speakers might not recognize this term if you're going Sp>En, but it's much more widely used, and a whole lot cuter, than cybercitizen

see Spanish use here
and from here's a better definition that what's on wikipedia:

The word netizen seems to have two similar meanings.
  1. A citizen who uses the Internet as a way of participating in political society (for example, exchanging views, providing information, and voting).
  2. An Internet user who is trying to contribute to the Internet's use and growth. As a powerful communications medium, the Internet seems to offer great possibilities for social change. It also creates a new culture and its own special issues, such as who shall have access to it. The implication is that the Internet's users, who use and know most about it, have a responsibility to ensure that is used constructively while also fostering free speech and open access.
Cybercitizen is a synonym.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

correr la voz

correr la voz: spread the word

obviously not run, or spill, the voice - though doesn't that sound strangely cool?


encuentro: meeting, conference, gathering, workshop

It sounds so much more prosaic in English. I wish I could come up with something that had all the beautiful resonances that it does in Spanish. I've seen people just keep the encuentro in Spanish, especially for the Latin American feminist ones, but depending on the crowd of course I think a lot of your listeners just wouldn't understand. I love that punto de encuentro can mean common ground.

Monday, August 13, 2007

vocab crunching?

Are you studying obscure legal terminology for a certification test? ah, that endless interpreter endeavor ... I have crazy huge collections of those itty bitty index cards on rings that I've had in pockets and purses for spare moments for years. Just ran in to this cool program though that I wish I'd known about before I passed all those exams and moved on to grad school - check it out: quizlet

Friday, August 10, 2007


lactivism: lactivismo

Yes, a neologism in both languages, but the Spanish version does actually have some minor googlage.

Here is the wikipedia definition:
Lactivism is a word joining two other words, "lactation" and "activism." A "lactivist" is a generic term describing any person who supports or is in favor of breastfeeding, lactation, pumping, and other related activities which support lactating mothers. Often a person is referred to as a "lactivist" when he/she protests an injustice done against a woman due to her status as a lactating woman. Examples can be found in the current media of instances of lactivism. For example, a common lactivism approach is that of staging a "nurse-in" where nursing mothers congregate outside of a place of business or public building (like a swimming pool) and breastfeed their children to protest against an action that was previously taken against a breastfeeding mother in that place (if she was asked to leave because she was breastfeeding her infant, for example).

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Accountability: Rendicion de cuentas; Responsabilidad por; Responsabilidad a
(to hold accountable: responsabilizar)

There are three senses of the term in English, so the translation will be different depending on the context and use. There is accountable as in able to be explained, that is, by giving “accounts”, for example, sharing our stories and being self-reflective about how we benefit from privilege and colonial patterns. Rendicion de cuentas. In so doing we can hold each other accountable for our geoeconomic and geopolitical position in the world, our social locations, and what we do with and about them (that is another sense, accountable as in responsible for: por). If phrased as in 'we will hold him accountable for x' you could render it as 'lo vamos a responsabilizar por x'. We can take the lead in this work from those most directly affected by racism and empire (the third sense, accountable as in responsible to: a). I deeply believe that as social justice movements we need to develop more spaces and mechanisms for accountability.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Si Se Puede!

Si Se Puede!: Yes We Can!

There are lots of other versions, but this catches the spirit of it and also works well as a chant.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


lockout: cierre patronal

A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is differentiated from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.

Yesterday I ran across the term "workbench lockout" to descibe an incident where "union members had been assigned fault equipment, not given materials or work orders on time in order to meed production goals, denied overtime hours, subjected to under-counting of production ...." in this fabulous article:

Traub-Werner, Marion and Cravey, Altha (2002) Spatiality, sweatshops and solidarity in Guatemala. Social and Cultural Geography. 3 (4), 383-401.

about the campaign for the first maquila union in Guatemala at the Van Husen shop, which went on for years and I responded to many action alerts on. If you also work on consumer solidarity I recommend the article (if you don't have academic access I can send it to you). But really, the point for this blog is that I'm not sure what term to use for that. I'm going to ask Marion, but anyone else have ideas?

Monday, August 6, 2007

detras de nosotros, estamos ustedes

detras de nosotros, estamos ustedes: behind us, we are you

I can't take credit for this one - I saw it in an email. It's the title of a book by el sub (Marcos) that came out in 2000, and as far as I know has not been translated yet. I've seen the slogan in various zapatista materials and love it.

Friday, August 3, 2007


empower: potenciar, apoderar, empoderar

The dictionary says to empower is to give someone else power (I empower you to do it). In that sense I would use apoderar. I am all about neologisms, and yes, empoderar is catching on - but I don't get how it's better than than the long existing apoderar. Unless maybe it squeamishness about those other definitions of apoderar carrying over. See this definition.

Or maybe it's that people feel uncomfortable with it when empower is actually being used more like to own your own power (the dictionary would say having the confidence to do something), which is the sense in which you're more likely to see it in a social justice context (as in We can fight our landlord, we know our rights, we are empowered tenants). Ok, so in that context I could live with empoderados, but I like potenciados alot too.

I've heard potenciar from several different social justice 'terps now, so I'm not just making this one up. It's not an exaaaact match though. See this definition.

Thoughts? Votes?

(Oh, and if you don't have the word ref searches in your firefox toolbar scrolldown to the bottom of those definition pages and get them. Amazing tool.)

Thursday, August 2, 2007


outreach: promoción

Kenny mentioned that he uses difusión de información; información al público; educación/educar al público
but those all seem fairly wordy. It's true, promocion sounds like you're selling something, but in a way you are usually - an event, a service, etc.. Thoughts? Other options?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


grassroots: popular

Thanks to Kenny for reminding me to put this one up. I run into folks screwing this one up all the time, though usually by doing the cognate Sp>En. Ok, not a horrible screw up, it is technically correct, but most crowds just won't get it. We usually say grassroots in English. Sometimes in English grassroots is used as a synonym for "rank and file" (as opposed to leadership). In that case I'd render it as base, or "de la base".

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


femocrat: femocrata
a member of the gender technocracy (tecnocracia de género)
That later term was coined by autonomous Latin American feminists "to differentiate the elite of professional women associated with NGO's working on gender related issues from what they considered an authentic feminist movement, struggling from a fundamentally anti-patriarchal position" (Karin Monasterios in her great article about Bolivian Women's Organizations in NACLA). In North America we tend to use femocrat for this. If I were doing fast simul I would use the cognate for speed, though I admit, it's another invention of mine. Though it has no googlage, I bet if it were a friendly audience they'd get it - it's a fairly obvious neologism. In consec or written I would use the full tecnocracia term.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Queer: Queer

(but if you have a chance, sneak in LGBT to cover your bases, and if you're doing simul and by some miracle have a long pause you could even say the whole mouthful for the truly clueless in your crowd. If on the other hand you're speaking to a queer crowd, you could also render it at times as familia, though of course that has a different connotation)

Yes, the term is widely imported into Spanish, even outside of the States. If you do a google search for it limiting it to Spanish sites you get 929,000 hits, many of them from organizations in Latin America using the term. There's an entry for queer theory in the Spanish wikipedia.

In the left more and more non-queer crowds will know the word queer in Spanish. In more mainstream venues, they may not even know LGBT. So educate them! Throw in "queer, o sea LGBT" the first few times and then just keep using queer is my vote.

Word is some LGBT folks in the DR are big on using 'raro' instead of queer, but I think that's a lost cause. Language purity shmurity.

I've also heard arguments for spelling it kwir, but I rather doubt this will catch on or be widely understood.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


ableism: capacitadismo my invention. much faster than "discriminacion contra los discapacitados" when you're doing simultaneous. picked up by other interps at the US Social Forum but maybe not quite right, see comments