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".


Dan Feder said...

I have definitely heard "militant" used in original English texts in this context but it is a pretty obscure use. Today probably 90% of its use in the media is following the word "hamas" or "al queda" or something similar.

I've usually used "party activist" or just "party member." Something like "Yo militaba en el Partido Liberal" is often just the equivalent of saying "I was a member of the local Democratic party." I think if it is used in the preterite ("milité") it could even mean "I joined...".

goya said...

I was unaware of the connotation in English. But I am afraid translating with 'activist' or 'party member' do not carry the full meaning of militante. As a militante or militancia are not just a member but says more about a type of strong commitment to a cause, ideas or party (engaging in a struggle).
Does anyone have other ideas of how to better translate this?