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LuDaibola

Most appropriate way to say "civil rights activist"

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LuDaibola

So, I was composing a little bio and wanted to say that my best friend was a civil rights activist, meaning that she participated in the civil rights movement in the US South in the 60's.  I use Archchinese as my dictionary and they have a listing for civil rights activist of "維權人士" while Google translate comes up with "民權活動家" instead.  Frankly, when the component parts are broken down, Google's rendering seems to more closely approximate what the role of a civil rights activist would be.  What do you think?  Anybody?

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The problem is that the American English term "civil rights" can't be taken too literally. There are a lot of "civil rights" out there worth struggling for, but in most contexts, including yours, it refers specifically to the struggle for racial equality, especially though not exclusively in the American South. That is, it's a shorthand term well understood in America, but not necessarily elsewhere.

 

I'd suggest you look for a term specific to the struggle for racial equality. Or better, instead of looking for a label, describe what she did.

 

Otherwise, you risk making your friend sound like Angelina Jolie.

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LuDaibola

Okay, what you've said makes perfect sense.  And, given that I was mainly talking about her in order to explain why I'm involved in certain projects related to race--that is, largely due to her influence--it would make sense to describe her, and my, activities then and now.  Thanks for the speedy response.

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陳德聰

 

5 hours ago, LuDaibola said:

she participated in the civil rights movement in the US South in the 60's

 

I would say that 美國黑人民權運動 as a movement is not something vague and confusing for Chinese people, so you could say:

 

她在60年代參與了美國南部的民權運動

 

Where 參與…民權運動 is your explanation that she participated in the civil rights movement.

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LuDaibola

Thanks for giving me this exact sentence wording as I'm still more than a bit dubious about all but the simplest of my own creations.  I was wondering, though, did you mean to say that Chinese people would find 美國黑人民權運動  vague and confusing?  If not, and what you said is what you meant, would I be right to assume that 美國黑人民權運動 is something that would be used to describe contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter and that if I want to distinguish those from the 60's movement I should use 美國南部的民權運動? 

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roddy

It can be worth looking at the Wikipedia topic for whatever you're interested in and seeing if there's a translation. That gives us:

非裔美國人民權運動

Google that and you also find 

美國黑人民權運動

 

Whether people find it vague or confusing will depend on how well they know US history. 

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LuDaibola

Super!  I never saw that Wikipedia sidebar before so I'm really happy you made this suggestion.  I'll make good use of this feature.

 

One of the funniest/weirdest things that have happened to me since I began studying Mandarin about 14 months ago is that my Google interface is now in Hanzi.  It happened like this: one day underneath my Google search bar there was a little note that indicated that I could see Google in Mandarin if I wanted.  Curiosity got the better of me so I pressed the button and Voila! I was seeing everything in characters.  However, since I don't read Hanzi, that was interesting for about 2 minutes and I wanted to change it back.  Believe me, since that fateful day, I have tried any and all suggestions proffered by various experts to get it to change back...it works for a second and then switches back.  Since all of the fixes require reentering all of the passwords and data that Google saves for me, I finally gave up and, for the past several months, I've lived with it.  The irony of this is that I am no longer trying to even learn Hanzi.  And, yes, I know how everyone feels about that but I am 67-years-old and unlike Steve Kaufman, and some of the other older polyglots featured on YouTube, I do not have the confidence that I can learn to speak and write well with the brain that I have at this age.  Learning to speak Mandarin sufficiently to make my way around Taiwan should I have the chance to visit (我在那裡度過了我的少女時代) will be more than enough for me.  I find the language absolutely fascinating and it's a wonderful retirement hobby.  As for the Google interface, I've learned to live with it.

 

(BTW, I'm happy to use characters here because I can see that that's the way things are done on this forum...I make good use of Google translate.)

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roddy

Well, welcome to the site and if it's easier to use pinyin that's fine too. But do put the tone marks on ;-)

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LuDaibola

Okay, thanks...I don't mind translating, though.  I've gotten used to going back and forth because the world of Mandarin learning is almost entirely oriented towards Hanzi and that's as it should be.  Knowing how hard I find simply learning to speak, I have profound admiration for all of you who are learning to read and write.  大家。。。保持良好的工作! 

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陳德聰
17 hours ago, LuDaibola said:

I was wondering, though, did you mean to say that Chinese people would find 美國黑人民權運動  vague and confusing?  If not, and what you said is what you meant, would I be right to assume that 美國黑人民權運動 is something that would be used to describe contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter and that if I want to distinguish those from the 60's movement I should use 美國南部的民權運動? 

I think I meant that Chinese people can at least guess what you’re talking about if they don’t know what the American Civil Rights Movement is, because it’s pretty descriptive: 民權 civil rights 運動 movement.

 

But keep in mind that the “name” for the 50-60s movement is just 美國黑人民權運動 (or as roddy pointed out 非裔美國人民權運動). I translated directly from your text that I quoted.

 

美國南部的 “in the US South”

在60年代 “in the 60s”

民權運動 “civil rights movement”

 

If you wanted to talk about Black Lives Matter, I would absolutely recommend against trying to use the same words. That would be confusing.

 

Currently BLM has several potential Chinese translations: 珍視黑人生命;黑人的命也是命;黑人生命至關重要;etc.

 

None of them are “official” because no Chinese-speaking Black people (as far as I know) have gained international traction. I quite like “「黑人的命也是命」(Black Lives Matter) 運動“ when I see it in local newspapers.

 

For “activist,” I usually go with 積極分子 if they’re part of a particular movement.

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LuDaibola
2 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

I quite like “「黑人的命也是命」(Black Lives Matter) 運動“ when I see it in local newspapers.

 

Yes, that's sweet . . . it would be hard to find a better translation than that.   Someone over there is getting it.  Y'all have given me plenty of ways to talk about this topic in both specific and general ways so, again, thanks . . . I could never have figured this all out on my own.  Finally, I won't be using the Archchinese  維權人士 at all as preserving authority hardly fits the bill (they must have something totally different in mind).   

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陳德聰

維權 usually means to defend/protect one’s rights, so you can definitely consider some kinds of rights activism to be 維權活動, but I don’t like 維權人士 because it’s flat and sounds kind of silly. I imagine a super prim and proper lawyer being like “hey I’m here to be your 維權人士 today.”

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Lu

维权人士 is a bit flat, but isn't this the word used for human rights-defending dissidents? Not necessarily prim and proper lawyer-types. Anyway it's a perfectly servicable word for the intended meaning.

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roddy

Not much prim and proper about this lot

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LuDaibola
15 hours ago, Lu said:

维权人士 is a bit flat, but isn't this the word used for human rights-defending dissidents? Not necessarily prim and proper lawyer-types. Anyway it's a perfectly servicable word for the intended meaning.

 

Thanks for making me look a little more closely at this...I only saw the definition of  (权) as authority and power....now I see that it also includes rights.  At any rate, I'm over my head here and fear that I may begin to misunderstand the finer points of this discussion so I'll bow out now.  Thanks, again, for all of your feedback.

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