Thursday, July 23, 2015

racial shifting: auto-reclasificación racial

As I understand it, this term refers to people changing how they classify themselves on the census and other official forms, without changing their outward appearance. Though this article in the Post conflates the two, I would consider Rachel Dolezal more than a racial shifter because she clearly went to great lengths to pass as her new race, rather than simply marking a form.

As that article points out, however, racial shifting is surprisingly common.  In the US, for example, about 650,000people described themselves as white on the 2000 Census and then described themselves as white and Native American in 2010. The theory is that people have been getting newly affordable genetic testing through and and discovering traces of indigenous heritage. 

You may also have seen some of the media coverage last spring of a Pew study showing that Latinos in the US are increasingly shifting and declaring themselves white, more so the longer they live in the US. Across Latin America census figures also show people more willing in recent years to identify as having African heritage. 

I posted this term as a question on kudoz, and am basing this translation on Juan Blackmore's suggestion of reclasificación racial. I added the auto because it seems to me that shifting implies that it is something you do yourself, but clasificación is often done by others. If you don't use the kudoz glossaries and forums they are a great resource. Gracias Juan!

Thursday, July 16, 2015


A bit like the last term I blogged, marica, negro is widely used somewhat affectionately in Colombia. Translating it as black man doesn't convey any affection. Blackie isn't quite right either, and sounds shocking in English, but to leave it in Spanish or not render it (two options I've seen) leaves the listener missing how constant naming by color is normalized.

Unlike marica however, which is widely used as a teasing but still charged term of endearment of sorts with people who are not actually gay, the term negro is primarily used for people with darker skin - though note that they often don't actually have African heritage.  In Colombia often the darkest child in the family will be nicknamed el negro and the lightest el mono.  In a translation you could leave the term as negro and add a footnote, but this term is more of a challenge when interpreting (which is oral, as opposed to translation, which is written).

How have other interps handled this one? Suggestions?