Sunday, December 18, 2016

Is Louise doing translation or interpretation?

Amazingly there is a mainstream movie out where a woman academic saves the day with her language skills! I can't recommend it enough. But what exactly is Louise Banks doing in the movie Arrival (trailer below)? Translation? Interpretation? Neither exactly ...

Translation renders a written source text into a written version in the target language.

Interpretation renders from an oral source to oral target.

If you have a written source text and read it out loud, that is to say, you render it orally into the target language, we call that a sight translation.

If you have a transcript of a conversation in the source language, and you render it into a written version in the target language, we call that transcriptlation.

Most of the time what Louise seems to be doing in the movie is transcriptlation - but towards the end she seems to learn the alien's language well enough to do some sight translation.

You don't need to know these later two terms really, but if you want to be taken seriously as a language professional, or even just as someone who uses language services well, it is essential that you at least use the terms translation and interpretation properly. Yes, I know they are widely misused - but that is no reason for you to misuse them.

I have posted here before on how and why I ask social movements to get these terms right. Basically, they are different skills. You could be a good translator and a horrible interpreter. I personally will doubt your interpreting skills if you tell me you are a translator when you mean interpreter!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

enfoque de género: gender-sensitive approach

[update: the official translation of the peace accords uses the term "gender-sensitive approach"and so I have changed it here from the term gender approach which I first used]

I am absolutely thrilled that the Colombian peace accords have been renegotiated, and that the differential approach in it is stronger than before. I continue to see the false cognate focus widely used in the media (which is one part of the broader enfoque diferencial in the accords, which now clearly include age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and ethnicity).

The term enfoque diferencial is fairly new, but enfoque de género is a term widely used in multilateral treaties and agreements. Gender approach is the standard UN and EU translation. A good tool for finding these is what used to be called the eurodicautom and is now, sadly, called iate.

As for the term differential vs differentiated, I have spent way too much time obsessing over the difference. The Real Academia defines diferencial as

1. adj. Perteneciente o relativo a la diferencia entre las cosas. Un estudio diferencial.
2. adj. Que diferencia o sirve para diferenciar. Caracteres, matices diferenciales.

I believe that it's this second definition that is at work in this term. I was utterly convinced that differentiated conveyed that meaning more clearly in English, but I have come around. It is not un enfoque diferenciado, but actually uno diferencial. It may not be a term in as common use in English as in Spanish, but it does exist. Merriam-Webster gives the simple definition of differential as

relating to or based on a difference : treating some people or groups differently from others.

Their full definition is:

1 a :  of, relating to, or constituting a difference :  distinguishing b :  making a distinction between individuals or classes c :  based on or resulting from a differential d :  functioning or proceeding differently or at a different rate

2 :  being, relating to, or involving a differential or differentiation

3 a :  relating to quantitative differences b :  producing effects by reason of quantitative differences

Sunday, October 9, 2016

socializar: do outreach, public education, spread the word, share, promote, disseminate

I am heartbroken about the peace vote in Colombia. I am particularly disturbed by how it was shaped by an active campaign of misinformation about the feminist aspects of the accords, including anti-feminist and homophobic fear mongering. Up to 1/3 of people voting no said they believed that the accords were an attack on 'family values'.

While the no vote was spreading lies, fear, and hate - the yes side did not do a great job of public education and outreach. They could have done a much better job of explaining what exactly was in the complicated accord, in particular to counteract the lies spread by the other side. In Colombian Spanish at least, doing this sort of work is often referred to as 'socializar' - whether it be a peace accord, or the results of your research, or a campaign for hand washing. The term generally conveys images of holding meetings in rural areas where the issue is explained and then discussed. I think our closest cultural equivalent in English, certainly in social justice contexts, is doing outreach. [In specifically Canadian academic contexts it is maybe the odd term knowledge mobilization.]

In discussions of the vote, I keep hearing people misuse the false cognate socialize - even Arlene Tickner, whose analyses are worth keeping an eye out for, does so in this video below of an interesting discussion on Al Jazeera's inside story about why the vote for peace failed in Colombia. The meaning of socialize in English is very different (think either cocktail parties or making someone behave according to the rules of the group), and this misuse can easily lead to some serious misunderstanding.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

balígrafo: bullet pen

This is the pen that was used to sign the Colombian peace accords on Monday. It reads: Las balas escribieron lluestro pasada. 'Las balas escribieron nuestro pasado, la educación escribirá nuestro futuro. Unfortunately I can't think of any way to match the great bala - bolígrafo play on words here in English - can you?

At any rate, here's hoping for a yes vote for peace on October 2nd. It's absolutely an imperfect agreement, but it's a great first step. Below is a short video arguing that this peace agreement is actually feminist!

Monday, September 12, 2016

social justice interp training in US

If you are bilingual, and want to get in to interpreting for social movements (and are on the East coast or in the South of the US), there is a great training opportunity coming up Sept 30 - Oct. 2nd at Wayside. It's put on by fabulous compas and I recommend it highly.
If you don't fit this profile - please spread the word and help build a strong core of movement interps - because more and better interpretation makes for stronger movements!

Friday, August 19, 2016

ableism: capacitismo

Years ago (2007) I blogged ableism as capacitadismo, at the time my own invention. Well it hasn't caught on, but capacitismo now has some decent googlage and a wikipedia entry:

El capacitismo es una forma de discriminación o prejuicio social contra las personas con discapacidades, también conocidas como personas con diversidad funcional. También puede conocerse como discriminación de la discapacidad, capacitocentrismo, fisicalismo u opresión de la discapacidad.


La visión de la sociedad capacitista es que las personas «capacitadas» son la norma en la sociedad y las personas con discapacidad o con diversidad funcional deben adaptarse a la norma o excluirse del sistema social capacitista. Los capacitistas sostienen que la discapacidad es un «error» y no una consecuencia más de la diversidad humana como la raza, la etnia, la orientación sexual o el género.

and on that note, my friend Andrea Parra writes:

Desde hace dos años nos hemos reunido mes a mes preparando el informe que llevamos a la ONU. Necesitamos financiar dos activistas más para que vayan a hablar sobre los derechos de las personas con discapacidad en el primer examen a Colombia ante el Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad. Ha sido un proceso verdaderamente democrático, nos ha obligado pensar y repensar posiciones, discutir y rediscutir textos, a definir estrategias para ser realmente incluyentes en los espacios que creamos y me conmueve profundamente ver que un movimiento dividido gracias a la medicalización forzada, tiende puentes de participación política y solidaridad. Por favor donen hoy aca a la campaña con cualquier monto que puedan.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

lactivist: lactivista

I've posted this one before (years ago), but was recently reminded of it by this lovely video of an action in Bogotá for the right to breast feed in public. I agree - a real peace includes being able to peacefully breastfeed wherever and whenever! (Though it might be a bit tricky to be a lactivist while engaging in kayaktivism.) Oh, and this week is, strangely, world breastfeeding week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

caserio: hamlet/ small village

Following up on my last post on the translation of the Colombian term vereda (which means quite different things in other countries, including path in Spain and alley or lane in Venezuela) I noticed that in this recent useful article in NACLA about reactions to the peace process in Putumayo, Winifred Tate seems to be translating vereda as hamlet. I think this is a mistranslation and may be due to a common confusion as to the legal definition of vereda in Colombia. Though vereda sometimes gets used to refer to the rural area where a few homes are grouped together, technically a Colombian vereda is a large sprawling rural area, most of which does not have homes anywhere near each other. Inside a vereda there is generally at least one caserio, or small settlement, ie hamlet - though really, that term always sounds quaint and a bit hobbit like to me so I prefer to translate it as small village.

(photo from the Tate article: Alianza members light candles welcoming peace in Mocoa, the departmental capitol of Putumayo (Photo courtesy of Paula Fernández Seijo))

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

vereda (Col): rural community

In the past I have blogged vereda as township, which I still like - but this rendition works well if you are not being picky about levels of government, and want to use a broader English that could be more easily understood outside of the US (and yes, I realize that is ironic when I used the very US term county in my last post).

I noticed this translation of the term in the video below, put out recently by the great folks at FOR Peace Presence, detailing the resistance of a rural community that they accompany - much of whose space was illegally taken over by a military base and who have refused to leave despite decades of pressure from the military.

Militarization and Peace from forpeacepresence on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

zonas veredales transitorias de normalización: rural township based temporary normalization zones

I am thrilled by the recent break through in the Colombian peace negotiations, and spent several hours last Thursday getting weepy while watching the telesur live feed of the signing of the cease fire. Finally! The end of fighting in the world's longest war!

One of the things that they established was the process by which arms would be handed over. These zones are one of the two sorts of areas where 7,000 to 8,000 FARC guerrillas will spend 6 months demobilizing once the final peace accords are signed. Never in the Americas has a group this large demobilized, nor has it ever been done this quickly. Adding to the challenge, they will be demobilizing while other armed groups are still operating, and looking to move in on the areas that they have controlled (both neo (or post) paramilitaries and the ELN guerrillas). This peace transition is going to be difficult, and it can use all of the support and attention we can give it.

One of the ways we can support this process is by translating the terms involved clearly in ways that are more easily understandable to an English speaking audience. I'm also geeking out on this term because I am a geographer.

I noticed that Adam Isaacson first rendered these as “Temporary Hamlet Zones for Normalization” - but later when he tweeted this map, they had been simplified to simply Temporary Normalization Zones". It's important to clarify that the zones will not take up the entire areas in red here, only some small part of each, since there are many veredas in a municipio. He used the false cognate here municipalities, but as you can see from their size, they are quite large, and I translate the Colombian term municipio as county. You can have townships in a county, but you wouldn't expect to have a hamlet in a municipality. Maybe that's why he dropped the term on the map? You also wouldn't expect a hamlet to be a legal entity, or for there to be thousands of them, as there are veredas in Colombia. I also imagine a hamlet to be quite small, but a vereda can actually cover a fair bit of area, with scattered homes throughout. Often these are not gathered into any kind of village as the term hamlet might make you think. I have in the past posted here my argument for translating the Colombian term vereda as township, but I have since had people tell me that there are both urban and rural townships in English. Since the Colombian vereda is rural, I have added that term here for clarity, but I think it would work without the rural if space or time is an issue.  

Thoughts? Comments? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

swords into ploughshares: espadas en arados

Juzgará entre nación y nación, arbitrará a pueblos numerosos. Convertirán sus espadas en arados, harán hoces con sus lanzas. No se amenazarán las naciones con la espada, ni se adiestrarán más para la guerra. - Isaías 2:4

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. - Isaiah 2:4 

I had the honor of interpreting last weekend at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival with some great colleagues. One of my compas, Rebecca Yoder Neufeld, pointed me to an amazing online resource for biblical translations. Bible gateway has a quick search of every possible version of the bible, in both English and Spanish. You can simply enter the word ploughshares and up this comes - and then you can easily switch to other ver
sions. It's really amazing how many versions of the bible there are. In many of the more recent Spanish versions they use rejas de arado instead of arados. I'd love comments on which you think works better.

Thanks to the conference photographer that took this pic of me at one of the few moments when my mouth was closed! Above are my compas Noe and Paul, hard at work in our great little booth.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

watershed: cuenca hidrográfica

watershed: cuenca hidrográfica

Check out this short video (by international allies) about the inspiring struggle of the Salvadoran people to save their watershed from being ruined by mining.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

from the ground up: desde la base

For several years now the grassroots movement in the US working to change (i.e. demilitarize) the US-Colombia relationship and support peace movements in Colombia has done annual days of prayer and action. This year's are this weekend, May 22nd and 23rd, and the slogan is

Building Peace from the Ground Up | Construyendo la Paz Desde la Base

Because "We recognize though that a true and lasting peace isn't guaranteed with the signing of an accord, it must be built from the ground up."

Every year for the last several there has been a different craft project everyone is asked to do and send in to symbolize one thing or another. This year it's "sowing seeds of peace".

So hey, if you're planting seeds for spring, have them do double duty and post pics of it for peacebuilding! But easier still, if you live in the US please use this quick and easy form to send a letter to your member of Congress outlining ways they can support the Colombian peace process.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

paro armado: armed lockdown or armed general work stoppage

I would absolutely not translate this as armed strike, I think that is misleading and will make most listeners think that a union is on strike and carrying guns on the picket line. Instead it refers to when the paramilitaries in Colombia shut down a town or region. They announce that there will be a shut down, and what that means is that if you open your business, drive your car, even walk down the street you might get shot (or have your cab set on fire, as in these photos). Entire cities become ghost towns on these days.

I had the privilege of interpreting for Alfredo Molano over the past few days, and I was surprised that in many of his meetings in Ottawa people did not seem to have heard of the recent paro armado in Colombia. As he repeatedly emphasized, it is extremely telling that the paramilitaries were able to completely shut down 1/3 of the country for several days. They didn't even have to walk around on the streets with guns to do so - they have instilled so much fear from years of massacres and assassinations that simply their threats (circulated on social media no less) were enough to keep everyone home.

The recent surge of paramilitary activity in Colombia, which has also included a wave of assassinations and attacks on human rights defenders, is extremely dangerous for the peace accords. As Molano again repeatedly emphasized, the guerrillas will not lay down arms if they are just going to be killed off by the paramilitaries as soon as they do. It would be suicide to sign up for a second Union Patriotica massacre. Of course this is precisely why the paramilitaries are surging, since they want to block a peace agreement.

The president of Colombia has responded by announcing, in the past few days, more intense military attacks on the paramilitaries. The problem is that large sections of the Colombian military (though not all) are on very friendly terms with the paramilitaries - as was quite dramatically illustrated during the paro armado during which they simply looked the other way.

It may actually be that the US has more ability to influence the Colombian army than the Colombian government itself. That is my take, not Molano's, but as he pointed out, the Colombian army is set up such that to ascend in rank you have to attend training in the US. If the US truly cut off training at the School of the Americas and other institutions for those who were not actively working against the paramilitaries, that would go a long ways to supporting peace in Colombia.

This week the US offered to share intelligence with Colombia on the paramilitaries. I was quite surprised to hear that they hadn't already been doing that. I hope that the US will step up and do more.

I would also love to hear Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently met with President Santos, explicitly say that Colombia needs to deal with the paramilitary threat to achieve peace. Santos seems convinced, but the more international pressure there is, the more the extreme right in Colombia may get the message.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

chicharrón (Colombia): problem

Check out this lovely little video which offers crucial background on the war in Colombia.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

mermelada (Colombia): pork barrel spending

mermelada (Colombia): pork barrel spending

I ran across this translation in an article in the New Republic analyzing the difficulties Colombia will face after peace accords are signed.

Here are a couple of paragraphs to give you a taste of it, including the use of the term:

"The exercise of extrajudicial repression by regional elites is a tradition old enough to be considered a structural aspect of Colombian governance. Because the central government lacks the ability, legitimacy, and will to assert itself in the far-flung enclaves of Colombia’s notoriously difficult terrain, it’s dependent on clientalist party machines to maintain stability and collect votes in those areas. This arrangement has proven durable, so long as the mermelada—marmalade, the Colombian equivalent of pork barrel spending—gets spread around. But historically, it has meant that any attempts at meaningful nationwide reform—of the kinds being hashed out in Havana—are quite literally dead on arrival once they reach the regions where they’re most needed.

But for Santos, there may be a more immediate danger than the backlash of the reactionary right. The economic model that’s been built on this system of state-sanctioned bloodletting is beginning to wobble under the weight of its own contradictions. Oil prices have plummeted since the start of the FARC peace process. What Santos once heralded as a “locomotor” of economic growth is now a sinkhole in the heart of his budget. At a time when the government is essentially committing itself to massive state-building in Colombia’s guerrilla-controlled territories, Santos is passing austerity measures to stay in the good graces of Western financial institutions. Inflation is high, his approval ratings are tanking, and Colombians are being asked to ration energy—despite living in a country that is among the world’s largest producers of oil and coal."

read on here 

Monday, April 4, 2016

volunteer as either an interpreter or translator for the World Social Forum in Montreal

If you have professional interpreting experience and are willing to volunteer your services with the babels collective for the World Social Forum in Montreal in August (9th through 14th), or could help with translations beforehand, fill out this form to express interest.  If selected they will pay your air fare and set you up with solidarity housing.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

con la lápida en el pecho: with one foot in the grave

This expression gets used in the fantastic short video below of a visit back to Colombia by top FARC negotiators to talk about the progress of the peace negotiations. It was made by Nadja Drost and aired on the PBS newshour. If you are interested in the peace process it is well worth your 8 minutes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

the Bern: el Quemazón

the Bern: el Quemazón

When was the last time a major US presidential candidate had a corrido written for them? Ever?
Check out this fabulous one, below, y echale compa Bernie!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

integrity: coherencia

integrity: coherencia

This translation comes from Berta Caceres, recently assassinated in Honduras for her activism. Read the logic for it in the beautiful obituary written by Beverly Bell below, reposted from Upside Down World. 

¡Berta Lives! The Life and Legacy of Berta Cáceres

I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter for indigenous peoples’ power; for control over their own territories; for women’s and LGBTQ rights; for authentic democracy; for the well-being of Pachamama; for an end to tyranny by transnational capital; and for an end to US empire was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power.

Berta cut her teeth on revolution. She was strongly marked by the broadcasts from Cuba and Sandinista-led Nicaragua that her family listened to clandestinely, gathered around a radio with the volume turned very low; those stations were outlawed in Honduras. Always a committed Leftist, Berta’s mother raised her many children to believe in justice. Doña Bertha – the mother made her youngest child her namesake – was mayor and governor of her town and state back when women were neither, in addition to being a midwife. She was Berta’s life-long inspiration. As a young adult, like so many others from the region who shared her convictions, Berta went on to support the Salvadoran revolution.

In 1993, Berta – a Lenca Native – cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). At that time in the country, there was little pride and even less power in being indigenous. Berta created COPINH to build the political strength of Lencas, campesinos, and other grassroots sectors to transform one of the most corrupt, anti-democratic, and unequal societies in the hemisphere.

A Political Force: COPINH under Berta’s leadership
Berta loved to say, “They fear us because we’re fearless.” The fearlessness paid off over the years. COPINH has successfully reclaimed ancestral lands, winning unheard-of communal land titles. They have stalled or stopped dams, logging operations, and mining exploration – not to mention free-trade agreements. They have prevented many precious and sacred places from being plundered and destroyed.

In addition to Berta’s remarkable leadership, COPINH’s victories have come through their size, strength, unity, and fierce commitment. Communities have participated in hundreds of protests, from their local mayors’ office to the steps of the national congress. They have occupied public spaces, including several of the six US military bases in their country, and refused to leave. They have shut down the road to Tegucigalpa, strategically blocking goods from moving to the city. They have declared a boycott of all international financial institutions on their lands. They have helped coordinate 150 local referendums to raise the stakes on democracy.

Here is one of many tales that Berta told of strategies and actions. The backstory is that Honduran farmers – which most COPINH members are – wear thick work boots made of unventilated rubber. Over their course of containing sweaty feet, they come to smell horrendously, so bad that campesinos/as refer to them as bombas, bombs. Early in COPINH’s history, a team went from La Esperanza to Tegucigalpa to negotiate with the government on a land titling law. The discussions went on for days. Berta told that, during lunchtime, the government received lavish, catered meals; the COPINH members had no money, and so their side of the table stayed empty. Far less connected in those days, the group had nowhere to sleep or shower, and spent the nights in the streets. At one point, the negotiations were tense and the members of COPINH’s team were shaky on their strategy. They asked for a recess, but the government refused. So someone on the COPINH side gave a discrete signal, and altogether the farmer-activists pulled off their bombas. The smell was so toxic that the government officials fled the room. COPINH was able to regroup and develop a stunning strategy. The indigenous radicals won the law.

The most recent campaign and partial victory are also the proximate causes of Berta’s death: stopping the Agua Zarca dam project on a sacred Lenca river. The COPINH community of Rio Blanco – everyone: elders, toddlers, nursing mothers – formed a human barricade and blocked construction of the dam. Meanwhile, Berta, other members of COPINH, and national and international friends pressured the World Bank and the largest dam company in the world, Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, to pull out. Rio Blanco did not blockade the construction for an hour or for a day, or for a week. They did it for more than a year. They did it until they won. They got the most powerful financial interests in the world to abandon the project. Tragically, because other financial interests are always waiting in the wings to plunder for profit, the dam is still under construction. Forty-eight more are either planned or underway on their lands.

Berta’s belief in participatory democracy extended profoundly to her everyday practice. As the unparalleled leader of COPINH, and with a large gap between her level of education and political experience and that of all but a few in the group, it would be have been easy for her to act on her own. Yet she always made herself accountable to the communities she worked for.
I saw the degree of this commitment in action one night when Berta called in to Utopia, COPINH’s rural community meeting center, and asked to speak to everyone. Fifteen or so people quickly gathered around the cell phone on the shaky wooden table next to the only light, that of a candle. Berta explained a fairly pro forma request that had come to her from a government office, and proposed a response. When she was finished, she asked the almost exclusively illiterate, campesino/na group, “¿Cheque sí, o cheque no?” All raised their thumbs toward the little cell phone and called out, “Sí!” No joint decision had been required, and yet she had sought consensus.
That’s accountability.

The Woman Behind the Myth

Berta was unflappable. She was calm in the face of chaos and strategic in the face of disaster. She got right in the face of soldiers and goons when they aggressed her or others, and told them what was what.

Berta was indefatigable, working around the clock with no complaint. When not traveling around Honduras or the world to raise support for the struggle, she would wake early and go straight to her desk to receive updates, often on the most recent attacks on COPINH members, and in those cases to write condemnations – all even before a cup of coffee. She would then jump into her yellow beater truck to pick up other members of COPINH and head off to wherever action or investigation was needed.

I was amazed that Berta drove that noteworthy truck everywhere without protection, and that she lived in a house secured by only a small bolt and a couple of friendly dogs. Then I realized that it made no difference how much security she had. The government and the companies she opposed almost always knew where she was (Berta also spent periods in deep hiding), and how to get her when they were ready to kill her.

Berta took two small breaks in her life. The first was a two-week vacation with a friend in a neighboring country, the second a three-month semi-repose at my house in Albuquerque – though even then she spent most of her days building a continent-wide boycott of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

Even as she served her community, Berta rose in the past decade to become an international people’s diplomat. She was a heroine to many global movements, a critical player in many struggles, a keynote speaker at many venues. She was someone consulted by government officials, by international networks, and even, a few months ago, by Pope Francis.

As we watched Berta’s rise as a global leader, our close friend and colleague Gustavo Castro commented to me, “I hope she never loses her humility.” She never did.

I once asked Berta how to say “integrity” in Spanish. She translated it “coherencia,” coherence between one’s stated principles and actions, coherence amongst all parts of one’s life. Berta had coherence.

She was highly critical of US Americans for our lack of that coherence. She once led an anti-oppression training for an organization I was running, in which she asked us to examine whether we were Caesars or artisans.  She meant whether our practice – not just our statements – aligned us with the oppressors or with the oppressed, and whether we were promoting the grassroots or ourselves as leaders. For a long time after, the refrigerator that Berta and I shared held her line drawing of a thonged Roman sandal. She also commented to me once that the problem with US Americans is our attachment to comfort.

Berta herself eschewed comfort. She lived in the modest house in which she was raised, where she cared for her elderly mother. She slept in a bare cement room, more than half of which had been converted to her office, housing her desk with its mountain range of documents and small computer table. Her trademark style – regardless of with whom she was meeting – was jeans, sneakers, and a cotton shirt. She did not shop, go to fancy restaurants, take a plane when a bus was available.
Besides COPINH and the struggle for justice, Berta had another profound commitment: to her mother and her four children. I recall watching the deep pride on Berta’s face when one of her daughters, then only 7 or so, recited a poem “Las Margaritas” (The Daisies) for a group of foreign visitors; it was a very different expression than I had ever seen. She grew prouder as her three daughters and son grew older, all of them holding the flame for justice.

Following Berta’s murder, her children and mother issued a statement in which they said, “We know with complete certainty that the motivation for her vile assassination was her struggle against the exploitation of nature's common wealth and the defense of the Lenca people. Her murder is an attempt to put an end to the struggle of the Lenca people against all forms of exploitation and expulsion. It is an attempt to halt the construction of a new world.
“Berta's struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy.”

After the Honduran government dropped sedition charges against Berta – one of its countless attempts to silence her - in 2013, someone asked her mother if she were scared for her daughter. Laughing, Berta quoted her mother’s response: “Absolutely not. She’s doing exactly what she should be doing.”

Berta’s humor was legend. A joke from her, and her soft up-and-down-the-scales laugh, punctuated the most tense of moments and kept many of us going, even as she never strayed from the gravity of the situation. One of her jokes was recirculated this week by radical Honduran Jesuit priest Ismael “Melo” Moreno. He once accompanied her to Rio Blanco, where someone snapped a photo of them together. As she peered at the picture, Berta laughed and said to Melo, "Let’s see which of the two of us goes first."

When Berta saw a performance of the Raging Grannies, a group of elder women who dress up in outrageous skirts and joyously sing protest songs at rallies and events in Albuquerque, she told me, “I never wanted to live to be an old woman. Now I do.” That chance was just taken from her.

Repression in the Wake of Berta’s Death
One person witnessed the assassination: Gustavo Castro Soto, coordinator of Otros Mundos Chiapas/Friends of the Earth Mexico, coordinator of the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4), and co-founder and board member of Other Worlds. A close friend and ally of Berta, Gustavo slept in her house on the last night of her life to provide accompaniment in the hope of deterring violence, something dozens of us have had to do for her over the years. Gustavo was shot twice and feigned death. Berta died in his arms.

Gustavo was immediately detained in physically and psychologically inhumane conditions by the Honduran government, and held for several days for "questioning." The subsequent days have resembled a bad spy movie, with Gustavo finally given permission to leave the country, only to be seized at the migration checkpoint at the airport by Honduran authorities, then placed into protective custody in the Mexican Embassy, only to be handed back to Hondurans, who took him back to the town of La Esperanza again for "questioning."  The Honduran government has just said that Gustavo must stay in Honduras for 30 days. He is being “protected” by the Tigers, vicious US-funded and -trained "special forces.”

Chillingly, according to the State Department, the US is cooperating with the Honduran investigators. A note from a close colleague, from outside Gustavo's place of detention yesterday, said that a team of US "FBI types" are actually in the interrogation room. The role of the US government in the attempted destruction of social movements in Honduras is vast. One can draw also draw a straight line from Washington to Berta’s death. But that is the topic of another article.

Gustavo continues to be in terrible danger in Honduran custody, as what he witnessed is an impediment to the government's attempts to pin Berta's murder on COPINH itself. In a note to some friends on March 6, Gustavo wrote, "The death squads know that they did not kill me, and I am certain that they want to accomplish their task."

The Honduran government also imprisoned COPINH leader Aureliano “Lito” Molina Villanueva for two days just after Berta’s murder, on “suspicion in a crime of passion.” It is interrogating COPINH leaders Tomas Gomez and Sotero Chaverria, while denying them lawyers. This is part of an effort to criminalize COPINH members. Now, COPINH needs more than ever to be protected, to be supported, and to carry on the legacy that Berta helped to build.

¡Berta Lives!
Berta touched everyone she met, and even countless ones she didn’t. My young daughter is one of those. The morning of Berta’s death, she wrote this: “Bev tells me that her close friend Berta died last night. I was shocked, because how can somebody kill someone who was only trying to do what’s right? Then I remembered they killed Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. If I die for doing the right thing, that would let me know that I did my part in this world. Just like Berta.”

When Berta received the 2015 Goldman Prize, the most prestigious environmental award in the world, she dedicated the prize to rebellion, to her mother, to the Lenca people, to Rio Blanco, to COPINH – and “to the martyrs who gave their lives in defense of the riches of nature.”
Now Berta is one of these martyrs.

Berta, Gustavo, and I were co-founders in 1999, and have remained active members of, the grassroots network Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA). Early on the horrific morning of March 3, a COMPA listserv note blasted the news of Berta’s assassination. Reading that message, I spotted the posting just prior, dated February 24. It was from Berta. It read simply, “Aqui!” I am here!

She is here. Long may Berta live, in the hearts, minds, passions, and actions of all of us. May all women and men commit themselves to realizing the vision of transformation, dignity, and justice for which Berta lived, and for which she died.

¡Berta Cáceres, presente!

Friday, March 11, 2016

pelon: geezer

pelon: geezer

Really pelon just means bald guy, but it IS often used this way. I learned this translation of the term in the unusually good subtitles of the great documentary Resistencia. If you have been outraged at the murder of Berta Caceres in Honduras, one of the things you can do is learn more about the current horrendous situation in Honduras and the movements organizing for justice there. One easy way to do this is watching this great documentary, which is surprisingly enjoyable to watch given the story it tells, and which you can easily rent online here.  If you are an interpreter, some choice terms in the subtitles will be an added bonus.

Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley from Makila, Coop on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

harta: fed up

harta: fed up

This is a fabulous short video about the Matria collective organizing against violence and patriarchy in Honduras and their 'hartas' campaign. I am harta de violencia in Honduras and reeling from the assassination of Berta Cáceres last Thursday. But this video is uplifting, I promise. Watch it.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

mansplain: machoxplicar

mansplain: machoxplicar

Thanks to Ann Deslandes for posing the question of how to translate this, and to Diana Ojeda for coming up with such a fabulous solution! It's a brand new neologism with no googlage - so here's hoping you'll help me to circulate it!

I notice that the Spanish wiki entry just keeps the English term mansplaining, but I think this works much better.  It certainly has a clearer ring than the androplicar option I found!

Brett Rowan also hilariously suggested chicodicho, but I don't think that's as clear.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

personero: local ombudsperson (Colombia)

personero: local ombudsperson (Colombia)

Just "local ombudsman" is the translation that Winifred Tate uses in her book:
Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: U.S. Policymaking in Colombia

I personally prefer the non-gender specific term ombudsperson. I've often seen this rendered as human rights ombudsperson. Since most English speakers won't automatically associate ombudsperson with human rights, it can be useful to spell that out for them if it's appropriate for the context, but personeros (or more appropriately the whole office of the Personeria) actually also provide general oversight on issues of corruption, environmental impact, etc.

Personeros are appointed at the level of the 'municipio' - but I like Winifred's use of local to get around the way Colombian municipios are a complete false cognate with municipality in (US/Can) English. Municipalities are only urban and don't usually have political units inside them (boroughs are a rare exception). Municipios are often rural, and have all sorts of other units inside them (veredas, corregimientos, etc).

The translation into Spanish of Winifred Tate's book, by Andy Klatt and Maria Clemencia Ramírez, is here. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

decarbonize: descarbonizar

Governor Jerry Brown used this term in his state of the state of California speech last week, saying that we need to "decarbonize the economy". I like it as a way of talking about reducing our carbon dependence.

First step, close the coal plants. I'm proud that the province of Ontario has shut down or converted all coal plants in the last few years.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Corporatocracy: corporocracia

A corporatocracy is a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations. The urban dictionary is more specific, saying that it is, "rule by an oligarchy of corporate elites through the manipulation of a formal democracy".

The wikipedia entry uses both the terms corporatocracia and corporocracia. The googlage on the term corporatocracia is about 31,000 and for corporocracia it is about 9,000. Nevertheless I would recommend corporocracia, because corporatocracia seems to me to stay too close to the English neologism and not follow normal Spanish patterns.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

climatarian: climariano

Yo he sido climariana por los ultimos dos años - lo cual es a veces un reto en el invierno acá en Ontario, Canada. Pero igual, voy cada semana al 'farmer's market' y me encanta conocer los que cultivan mi comida y qué esta realmente de temporada.

No estas segura que significa climariano? Hasta univision esta escribiendo del nuevo termino del año y tienen este resumen. The basics? Eat local and low on the food chain to reduce your climate impact.