ICNC Translations Program
Translating civil resistance literature into diverse languages is one of the most powerful ways to spread knowledge and increase the effectiveness of nonviolent movements struggling for rights, freedom, and justice.
Accordingly, our Translations Program has two main goals:
1. To be a comprehensive resource for all existing translations of civil resistance resources in the world.
2. To support new high-quality translations of resources on civil resistance into multiple languages.
ICNC’s online Resource Library contains a vast and growing number of civil resistance resources in nearly 60 languages. These include translations that we’ve commissioned, as well as translated materials that originated from other organizations and movements. We strive to ensure that the translation projects we sponsor are held to extremely high quality standards.
How Do We Decide What to Translate?
a) target languages and
b) particular resources to translate.
To choose which languages to prioritize for translation, we focus on:
• The number of speakers of a given language;
• Demand for resources in a given language; and
• Our relationships with competent translators in given language.
Therefore, we often translate materials into widely-spoken languages (i.e. more than 30 million speakers), but we will commission translations for languages with far fewer speakers if there is high demand, if we know competent translators in that particular language, and if we have confidence that the translated materials will be shared widely in a society.
To decide which resources to translate, we focus on:
• Demand for particular topics in a given language
• Availability of easily translatable resources on those topics;
• Cost-efficiency, emphasizing multiple shorter-length resources (i.e. under 25 pages) over single, longer resources; and
• Accessibility, emphasizing resources that can reach many audiences (i.e. articles and book chapters that can reach general readers) over resources that will likely be read only by a single audience (i.e. highly academic texts).
Therefore, we usually translate shorter resources that contain general information that is widely applicable to many circumstances. However, we will commission translations of longer resources or translations on more specific topics (i.e. “nonviolent campaigns against corruption”, or particular case studies) if there is clear demand for them and we have high confidence that they will be shared widely in a society.
How to Request a Translation
If you have a specific article or resource that you would like to see translated, please complete and submit the ICNC Translation Request Form.
Do You Want to Translate for ICNC?
If you want to translate for ICNC, we’d like to hear from you. We pay our translators to produce high quality work. Here are qualities that we prioritize when considering whether to work with translators:
1. Prior professional translation experience
2. Translating work from English into their native language (as opposed to translating from English into a second language)
3. Some pre-existing knowledge of, or a strong interest in, the field of civil resistance, human rights, or other means to make social, political, or economic change.
If you would like ICNC to consider you as a possible translator, you can fill out our Translator Application Form.
Information for Translators on Our Translations Process
Challenges of Translating Civil Resistance Content
Trying to convert words and meaning from one language to another is always a challenging process, but translating content on civil resistance can be especially challenging. Good translations require a solid understanding of the field and often entail the development of entirely new terms and definitions in a particular language, as English-language terms about civil resistance describe concepts and ideas that may have no direct equivalent in some languages.
In fact, as this field emerged in the English language, scholars and activists over the last century often needed to create new terms to describe aspects of nonviolent forms of struggle. Such terms include “nonviolent action”, “nonviolent struggle”, “nonviolent conflict”, “nonviolent resistance”, “civil resistance”, “people power”, and “political defiance”. Many of these terms are closely related, and some of them can be used as synonyms, but they show just how broad and diverse the English-language terminology is to describe our field. Translators must decide which terms in their own language work best, sometimes creating new ones, as literal translations of some of English terms are sometimes inadequate in other languages and would not be appropriate for a particular cultural, historical, political, and linguistic context.
One reason why new terms often need to be created is that civil resistance challenges how societies understand and talk about power and conflict. For example, here some common assumptions:
• Engaging in “conflict” with power holders involves using violence;
• Using “power” or “force” means using wealth, official status, and/or threat of use of violence to achieve a goal; and
• The word “nonviolent” or “nonviolence” is often assumed to mean passive, peaceful, or based on a religious or ethical tradition.
Therefore, many languages lack existing terms that illustrate how:
• “Conflict” can be waged through nonviolent methods;
• “Power” and “force” can be created and asserted through collective nonviolent action;
• “Nonviolent” can refer to actions that are assertive (as opposed to passive), disruptive, and chosen for practical reasons (as opposed to moral reasons); and
• There can be an entire technique of struggle based on nonviolent methods that can challenge even violent adversaries.
Ensuring Accurate Translations
We have developed a list of key terms that are prevalent in English-language civil resistance literature, which we provide to translators with whom we work. We have begun translating this list into Arabic, Farsi, French, Kyrgyz, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu.
This list of translated key terms is the foundation for conducting accurate translations in this field, so our preference is to standardize all key terms in a language before proceeding with any new translations in that language. Over time, we will translate our standardized list of key terms into an increasing number of languages, and we will make such translated lists publicly available on our website.
As standard practice, we also have ICNC-supported translations evaluated, nearly always by an independent individual who does not know the translator. In rare cases where an ICNC-supported translation is not evaluated, we note this in the relevant listing in the ICNC Resource Library.
We Welcome Your Input and Suggestions
We are always looking to improve our work. If you have feedback on a translation in our Resource Library or are aware of an existing translation that you would like us to add to our Resource Library, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.