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.