Bilingual Mexican Constitution: Spanish-Mayan translation complete after years

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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 10:18
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Is this really necessary? Aug 5, 2015

Like any country, the Mexican government has limited funds. It also has something that many other countries do not: a drug war! Shouldn't efforts be focused on halting the progress of evil doing that takes its toll on people's lives and a stable, corruption-free government?

The second point I would like to make is that if the constitution is translated into Mayan, and a speaker of Mayan wishes to read it, does it not follow that this speaker of Mayan also can speak passable if not good Spanish? Is it feasible for a speaker of Mayan to learn how to read and write in Mayan and be completely illiterate in Spanish?

The last point is: who even reads their constitution? I certainly haven't. And if an attorney or lawmaker who is a native speaker of Mayan wishes to consult the Constitution, wouldn't he prefer to consult the original written Spanish? After all, laws are enacted in Spanish, not Mayan.


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 10:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Mr. James Aug 6, 2015

Reed D James wrote:
Is this really necessary?


Yes, it is. And it surely ill-behoves any professional translator to question the worth of knowledge-sharing in the day-to-day language of the peoples of any nation.

The most important thing Mr. Reed chooses to ignore – despite it being clearly mentioned in the extract from the IBT article – is that making the Constitution available in an officially-recognised translation in an indigenous language is a valuable and worthwhile gesture favouring the integration and national identity of people who for a wide variety of reasons, tend to be amongst the least-privileged members of society.

I happen to live in the Araucanía region of Chile, which was the last stronghold of the indigenous Mapuche people until their “integration” into the Spanish-speaking Republic of Chile following the so-called “Pacificacíon de la Araucanía” in the 1880s. In those days, everyday life here very much resembled scenes from a classic John Wayne "cowboys and indians" movie depicting the US “Wild West”, with thousands of government-sponsored European colonists taking possession of land which since time immemorial had been the nomadic homelands of the pehuenches costinos, abajinos and arribanos*.

Today, the Mapuche population of this region is almost 300,000 (over 30% of the regional population)**; that’s second only to the Mapuche diaspora living in and around the capital, Santiago. The Mapuche language – Mapudungun – is the first language of many of them, and the only language of some. Many are illiterate in both languages.

There is a strong indigenous movement pressing for Mapudungun to be recognised as an official language of Chile, at least in the regions where there are significant Mapuche populations. The authorities have already made significant advances with regard to social, political and economic integration of the Mapuche people; for example, here in the Araucanía region, Mapuche couples can marry in their local register office in their own language, and obtain a marriage certificate in Mapudungun; Spanish-speaking Civil Registry staff have received special language and cultural training for this purpose (at Mr. Reed's expense, no doubt).

As far as I am aware, the Chilean Constitution is not available in Mapudungun (if anyone can find it on the web or elsewhere, please send me a copy). Nevertheless – just like the Mexican Constitution – it is the basis for the entire system of legal and civil rights in the country, governing the responsibilities and obligations of every citizen of the nation. Is it not reasonable to suppose that the "fundamental charter" should be available to all those subjugated to, and beneficiaries of, its dispositions in a language they understand?

Finally, I venture to suggest that Mr. Reed, as a resident of this country, might do well to read the Chilean Constitution. It governs many aspects of his day-to-day life and, as we all know, "ignorance of the law is no excuse". Least of all when it is available on-line*** in a language he understands...

RL

* http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-3630.html (In Spanish)
** Data from 2012 Census: www.ine.cl (In Spanish)
*** http://www.leychile.cl/Navegar?idNorma=242302&idParte=8563503&idVersion=2012-12-15 (In Spanish)

PS: This contribution, offered in my capacity as a professional communicator and translator, is in no way intended as a ‘political statement' for or against the pretensions of any indigenous people, whatever their place of residence.

PS bis: I note that Mayanlanguages (sic) appears in the list of languages in the Proz directory. However searches for that language from/into Spanish or English offer the following meagre results (language pair “among the top 8 pairs”):

Mayan languages -> Spanish: 2
Mayan languages -> English: 1
Spanish -> Mayan languages: 0
English -> Mayan languages: 1 (someone based in Malaysia, who probably has a severe identity problem of his/her own…).

Sad to say, Mapudungun doesn’t even appear in the list (:


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:18
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Mayan, really? Aug 10, 2015

As I remember a couple of centuries ago Mayan was written with its own script. Did they revive it?

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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 10:18
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
@Mr. James Aug 10, 2015

Robin Levey wrote:

Reed D James wrote:
Is this really necessary?


Yes, it is. And it surely ill-behoves any professional translator to question the worth of knowledge-sharing in the day-to-day language of the peoples of any nation.


I don't understand why Mr. Levey (I'm Mr. James) makes this sweeping statement. Isn't this open to debate? I certainly considered some of his points-even share some of his views. Unlike him, though, I am not telling anyone what to do, just stating my opinion. In my experience, people who vehemently defend a position tend to proselytize, something I avoid doing.


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 10:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Identity and Identification Aug 11, 2015

Reed D James wrote:
I don't understand why Mr. Levey (I'm Mr. James) makes this sweeping statement. ...


Given the specific context of this thread, referring to the official recognition of linguistic minorities (and, by extension, the respect of their civil/human rights), I note – not without a certain measure of bemusement – that Reed* is very conscious of the importance of the correct representation of his identity (name) as a member of the human race.

I don’t know which (if any…) variety of English Reed uses as a mother-tongue, but it’s clearly not the one I’ve (ab)used since the early 1950s: British English – specifically, one of the several so-called “Home Counties” varieties, English of the County of Essex, to be pedantically precise.

When I write “Surely it ill-behoves ...”, that is an invitation – nay!, an incitation – to engage in debate. Even without a question mark at the end, it is a rhetorical question. Rhetoric, as we well-travelled native “Englishers” know, is amongst the many forms of my native language (alongside innuendo, sarcasm and the traditional “black humour” of my homeland) that most easily trigger ill-founded gut reactions from natives accustomed to other varieties of English (not to mention utter incomprehension on the part of the majority of non-natives). No matter! - at the end of the day, it all comes down to: “live and let live”. Let's not allow mere 'language' to get in the way of mutual understanding.
Reed D James wrote:
I certainly considered some of his points-even share some of his views.

Great! If Reed wants to debate the topic of the OP, he might like to start by telling us which of the views in my first post that he actually 'shares', so we can move on to those which remain open to meaningful debate.

RL

* I apologise unreservedly for the error in my previous post. I will mention – as an explanation, not an ‘excuse’ – that I naturally associate “James” with fore-names (it happens to be one of mine), and I know several people whose surname is “Reed” but none benefiting from that as a forename. Errare humanum est, as they say in the native(?) language of Erasmus.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
What is necessary? Aug 14, 2015

Mayan is only one of many indigenous languages used in Mexico. So is it the plan, then, to translate the constitution into all of them? Otherwise many are being excluded. In my opinion, Mexico's limited resources would be best used by teaching those Mexicans whose native language is Spanish to read and write. There are even many more of them. By doing that, a whole new world would be opened up for them.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
And I might add... Aug 14, 2015

That an effort to incorporate all indigenous peoples into mainstream life in Mexico must include teaching them the national language, Spanish; how to read, write and speak it. At the same time their native culture and languages should be reinforced.

It is good to remember that Benito Juárez did not become president of Mexico by speaking only Zapoteca.


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Joel Pina Diaz  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 10:18
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Filling the cube Aug 15, 2015

I read this and really do not understand why some people spit arguments without a hint of knowingly... Filling the empty cube...

"(Mexico) 2013.- The National Institute of Indigenous Languages (Inali) coordinated the translation of the Mexican Constitution in ten indigenous languages and in this way promote its importance and promote the rights of peoples in their own languages.
The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) noted that the Federal Government is still working with the promotion of public policies on indigenous languages, to make Mexico a more plural and inclusive country, with the participation of all involved and as a joint effort among the three branches of government...

---Since the forties and more reinforced in the sixties every single indigenous community has access to bilingual education.---

The Constitution was translated in: Chol, Chontal, Mixteco, Zapoteco, Pima, Tarahumara, Tepehuano, Yaqui, Mayo and Zoque.

The translation process was coordinated by the Inali and conducted collegially with the participation of the Intercultural University of Tabasco, the University of Sonora, the National Union of Indigenous translators and the State Coordination of the Tarahumara."

The National Union of Indigenous translators is unique around the world and there is no other similar in any point of the globe.
http://lajornadajalisco.com.mx/2013/02/la-constitucion-esta-traducida-a-diez-lenguas-indigenas/

And if you want the App so you can follow the excellent work (as they work in the Mayan as well and other Indigenous Languages) is available here...
https://itunes.apple.com/es/app/unti-de-mexico/id1009457801?mt=8

You can propose something similar (maybe you have a better idea regarding your own country) and value the humongous work that this involves and the structure to reach the objectives in the those languages that disappear rapidly...


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Bilingual Mexican Constitution: Spanish-Mayan translation complete after years

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