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<nettime> The Tlaxcala Manifesto (Translators' Network for Linguistic Di
Patrice Riemens on Wed, 22 Feb 2006 14:09:29 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Tlaxcala Manifesto (Translators' Network for Linguistic Diversity)


by the Translators of Tlaxcala

Las lenguas de Tlaxcala, por Juan Kalvellido

Tlaxcala, the network for linguistic diversity, was founded on December 2005 by a
small group of cyberactivists who knew one another through Internet and discovered
that they shared common interests, common dreams and common problems. The network
quickly grew, has today [...] members, and translates into [...] languages. This
Manifesto, approved by them all, expresses their common philosophy:

All languages of the world must, and do contribute to the brotherhood of mankind.
Contrary to what many people used to believe, a language is not only a grammatical
structure, a set of interconnected words, in agreementwith a syntactic code, but
also, and especially, a creation of meaning based upon our senses. Thus we observe,
interpret and express our world from a specific personal, geographical and political
context. Because of this, no language is neutral, and they all carry the 'genetic
code', the imprint of the cultures to which they belong. Latin, the first imperial
language, reached its high point by trampling on the remains of the languages it
destroyed as the Roman legions extended their presence to the south of Europe, the
north of Africa and the Middle East. It is not strange if at the beginning of the
Renaissance it was the Spanish language, a genetic daughter of Latin, which brought
about new devastation, this time among the conquered peoples of the American

An empire and its language always go together and are predators by definition. They
reject otherness. Any imperial language constitutes itself as the subject of History,
narrates it from its point of view and annihilates (or tries to do so) the points of
view of languages it considers inferior. The official History of any empire is never
innocent,but motivated by the zeal to justify yesterday.s acts today in order to
project its own version upon tomorrow.

Nobody knows what suffering the peoples conquered by the Roman Empire endured, since
there is no written record of their defeat, which meant the disappearance of their
cultures. Conversely, the languages of the American continent conquered by the
Spanish Empire left their testimony. Towards the second half of the 16th Century,
shortly after the conquest of Mexico, Brother Bernardino de Sahag=FAn assembled what
it is known today as The Florentine Codex, a mixture of N=E1hua tales (N=E1huatl is
the language of the most ancient Aztecs, still spoken in Mexico) and pictorial
illustrations that describe pre-Hispanic society and culture. The second testimony,
which contradicts the first one, is The Lienzo de Tlaxcala, also transcribed during
the 16th Century by the mixed race Diego Mu=F1oz de Camargo, who based his story upon
the fresco paintings by his ancestors .the Tlaxcaltecan nobility . who described in
images both Hern=E1n Cort=E9s.s arrival and the fall of Tenochtitlan, the capital of
the Aztec Empire, destroyed by the Conquistadors who replaced it with the city of
Mexico. Tlaxcala was at the time the Tenochtitlan Aztec empire.s rival city-stateand
aided Cort=E9s in destroying it, an attitude that was akin to drawingup its own
death sentence, since the new Spanish Empire which was born of that defeat subjugated
all the native, so-called pre-Columbian peoples . whether they were allies or enemies
of the Spanish Crown, resulting in analmost complete loss of their cultures and

In our days, the imperial power is based in the United States of America,whose
official language is English. Faithful to the behavioural characteristics of any
empire, the English language now imposes its law. Under the influence of English,
entire countries or territories have lost- or are in the process of losing - their
communicational languages. The Philippines or Puerto Rico are only two examples among
many. In sub-Saharan Africa the false prestige accorded to English, French, Portuguese
or majority vernacular languages is killing one local mother tongue every two weeks
according to UNESCO.

It is true that in these times of global communication there is nothing negative in
having a lingua franca to facilitate mutual knowledge, but itbecomes quite negative
if it either consciously or unconsciously transmits the ideology of superiority that
characterizes it, and does so by exhibiting its scorn for the 'subordinate' languages,
i.e., all the others. The superiority complex which always accompanies an imperial or
imperially-dependent language is so consubstantial to its essence that today it even
happens among Anglophone activists engaged in the struggle for a better world: their
media is a tangible proof that the writings they publish translated from the
'subordinate' languages constitute only an insignificant percentage of their contents.
It is not only the fact that translations from English into other languages are so
appallingly numerous in comparison, but a problem lies in that the same cannot be
said in the opposite direction. We all are culprits of having accepted until now such=

Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity, is born asa
post-modern homage to the unfortunate city-state of the same name whichcommitted the
tragic mistake of trusting an empire - the Spanish one - inorder to fight against
another less powerful one - the N=E1hua - just to find out only too late that nobody
should trust empires - none of them - because they use their subordinates only as a
lever for their own purposes. The global translators of Tlaxcala seek to redress the
ancient Tlaxcaltecan.s lost destiny.

The translators of Tlaxcala believe in otherness, in the goodness of approaching
others. points of view, and for that reason they take the stand to de-imperialise the
English language by publishing in all possible languages (including English) the
voices of writers, thinkers, cartoonists and activists who nowadays write their
original texts in languages that the domineering empire's influence do not permit to
be heard. As well, the translators of Tlaxcala will allow non-English speakers to be
exposed to ideas from English language writers who now are on the fringe, or who wer=
e published in really small, really hard to find places.

The English language in its position of institutional apparatus of knowledge functions
as a global structure of power that presents the world.s languages and cultures in its
image and likeness without bothering to seek the permission of the world it purports
to represent. The translators of Tlaxcala are convinced that the masters of discourse
can be defeated and hope to blur such an apparatus in the faith that the world
becomes both multipolar and multilingual, as diverse as life itself.

The basis that Tlaxcala uses for text selection is that it reflects the core values of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, aiming for fullrespect for the rights and
dignity of the human person. The translators of Tlaxcala are anti-militarists,
anti-imperialists and stand against 'neoliberal' corporate globalisation. They yearn
for peace and equality among all languages and cultures. They believe neither in a
clash of civilisations nor in the current imperial crusade against terrorism. They=
oppose racism and the building of walls or electrical fences - either physical or
linguistic - that prevent the natural free movement and sharing between people and
languages on the planet. They seek to promote esteem, recognition and respect for the
Other, as well as to express the desire that she/he ceases to be an object of History
and becomes a subject of it with full equality. This effort is voluntary and free.
All the translations carried out by Tlaxcala are on Copyleft, i.e. free for
reproduction for non-commercial purposes, as long as the source is cited.

Translators and interpreters of all languages, connect yourselves and unite!
Webmasters and bloggers of all colours in the rainbow who share our concerns,
contact us!

*     *     *

It is not a coincidence that we have chosen the date of 21 Februry to make our
Manifesto public. During the years of the 50's, 60's and 70's, 21 February was
celebrated as the world anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism day.

On that day in 1944, Paris awoke with its walls covered with big red posters that
announced the execution at Mount Val=E9rien of 23 .terrorist. members of the Snipers
and Partisans-immigrant workers, the first organization of resistance to Nazism in the
French territory. The leader of the group, Missak Manouchian, a 36-year-old Armenian,
was a survivor of the Armenian genocide, an immigrant. To the French collaborators
who attended his summary trial before the Nazi military court, and who labelled him a
'm=E9t=E8que', Manouchian answered: "You inherited French citizenship, I earned it".

"The time of martyrs has come, and if I am one of them, it will be for the cause of
brotherhood, the only thing that can save this country". These were Malcolm X's last
words before being murdered during a meeting in Harlem on 21st February 1965 by three
members of the Nation of Islam, which Malcolm had left in 1963 in order to create the
Organization of theAfro-American Unity. In April 1966, his assassins were condemned
to life imprisonment, but those who plotted his murder - the Masters of the Empire -
remained, as in most cases, unpunished.

Malcolm X, alias El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, whose original name was Malcolm Little,
was 39. He had returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, where he discovered universality
after meeting pilgrims of all origins. One of thereasons of his breaking with the
Nation of Islam was that it had had contacts with the Ku Klux Klan to discuss the
establishment of a black independent State in Southern USA, just as the founder of
Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had done in requesting the support of the worst anti-Semites
for his project of a Jewish State. For Malcolm, whose father had been a victim of
the Ku Klux Klan, such collaboration was unthinkable.

On this day of remembrance we put Tlaxcala under the patronage of those two fighters
for the struggle of peoples, Missak Manouchian and Malcolm X.

Cyberespace, 21 February, 2006

AIENA Caterina
BUEMI Valerio
CILLA Antonia
HAUN Agatha
INDA Elaine
P=C1RAMO Ernesto

tlaxcala AT tlaxcala.es

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