So I have started doing translation work for the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos. When I think “Human Rights” I think NGO/nonprofit/volunteer/advocacy work… the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Unicef. But I think that’s super “Mercan” of me.
As it turns out, according to several national conventions, in addition to stuff like life and freedom and equality, things like social security and work are also human rights. As it turns out, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission is a governmental agency.
I thought it would be fun, though hard work, to translate for them. It’s a lot of legalese, not surprisingly. I thought initially this had to do with lawyers, but nothing doing. It’s coming from bureaucrats.
Distinguishing the source of BS is important here, because it is related to the reason I got completely reamed for a translation I did yesterday. The key problem with my translation? I cut out all of the redundant crap.
Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, when you’re dealing with law and policy and stuff you have to be precise-verbose/interpretable-vague. But these are not exactly law and policy documents– they hire actual lawyers to translate anything that is legally binding. These are “recommendations,” basically correspondence that is sent to Mexican authoritative bodies presumed guilty of violating human rights. The recommendations also get published on the CNDH’s freaking webpage… in theory you want the public to be able to understand them, no?
My editor said it to me best, I think unconsciously, that I have to think like a politician when I am doing these documents. This made me realize, the people writing these human rights recommendations are politicians.
Silly of me to think otherwise, I guess, that “politician” and “bureaucrat” were mutually exclusive.
“You guys, don’t you want your political infighting to read clearly?!”