I am a TED translator

October 18th, 2010 in Blog | ,

A while back I was watching a TED video. Randomly I decided to look at what languages were available for subtitles. This is not one of the most watched videos on TED, and of course, my own native language, Norwegian, was not represented. I dug a bit further and found the list of videos that have been translated to Norwegian. Out of 700+ videos only a handful were available in Norwegian.

“OK”, I thought, “I will translate this one.” So I applied to translate the video. By the way it was Brian Cox: Why we need the explorers, go watch it, though no-one has reviewed my translation yet so it’s not available. I wasn’t expecting the questions and commitment they have to make sure the volunteer translators are up to par. One of their questions was: “Why do you want to translate for TED?”

Why do I want to translate?

I often advocate that English is a required skill, especially in Norway where it is our primary second language. However, as a – can I say? – former dyslectic I understand the difficulties of consuming any kind of information, and even more so information not in ones primary language. I believe the content in TED talks to be of high importance. I believe that the utmost concern for the consumer of a TED talk to gain a good grasp of what the speaker wishes to convey.

Reading is an excellent way of consuming information. The transcript is available while watching the talk,  and optionally on the sidebar where it can be read in ones own time. A native translation will enable most readers of the language to view and understand the content. The content will instantly be available to most with the basic reading abilities of a young student.

What’s in it for me?
As mentioned earlier, I am a sufferer of dyslexia (they just had to make it a hard word to spell, didn’t they?) I have spent a good many years trying to overcome its difficulties. When tired, b, d, and p will still trip me up. Is “ball” spelled with one or two ‘l’s? Every time I write a word it is reinforced in my brain. They say practice makes perfect. I am still fighting to overcome it, and to maintain my hold on it. (Though, still I do struggle reading out loud, so please, never ask me to do that.)

I also have a fifteen year old step-daughter. While she is a native English speaker, I want the information available to her and to her classmates, my family, my colleagues, and everyone else who natively speaks Norwegian. I believe in a lot of the information TED stands for, I believe a lot of it is important (and the rest? Informational, funny, or interesting.)

A query for you
Earlier today I asked a question on a semi-popular Norwegian blog, and I will follow it up here. If you had a choice, what would you like me to translate? Are certain things more important to you? Should I translate the latest talk? The most popular talk? I would love to hear from all and everyone. If there are very specific talks you want translated, the feel free to request that as well. I can also be contacted through email, my first name @ this domain.

(Though, I do see the irony, as this is written in English… )

Up ahead, my goal is to translate – at least – one new TED talk per week, time and timing allowing. This weeks talk was Jessa Gamble: Our natural sleep cycle, chosen because I have experience the sleeping patterns she describes.

Next weeks talk will be Brian Cox on CERN’s supercollider, because I like super colliders, and because Brian Cox rocks ;)

And one last request, translate a TED talk today, so that more people can enjoy this content. Be a hero!

If you do not feel up to the task of translating a complete talk, join up to review a finished translation, as they are often delayed due to too few reviewers.

I am a TED translator, and damn proud to be so too.

5 comments to “I am a TED translator”

  1. What a good initiative Emma! As a native Norwegian I know how difficult it is to find good translations of a lot of English texts and videos. There are definitely a lot of Norwegians who are going to appreciate your contributions.

    Keep up the good work, and good luck :)

  2. admin says:

    Thank you Kristian :) We do very often assume that English content is available to Norwegian consumers, but very often reading the native language is much, much preferable.

    Why don’t you be a hero, and make some more content available ;)

  3. Vaughan says:

    Well done babe, really happy they finally accepted it.

    I’ll even turn the subtitles on that you did, in an effort to improve my Norwegian :)

  4. Martin says:

    Tried to find your “B.Cox: Explorers” talk to review, but it’s not there…
    You should check the status of it if you have completed the translation.
    Thanks for reviewing my talk by the way. Nothing more frustrating than waiting forever for someone to review it.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Emma Vartdal says:

    Hi Martin!

    I am unsure where the Explorers translation has gone to. It is not showing up on my translations list on TED. I shall check my logs.

    And regarding reviews, yeah, it’s a pain! I will of course review as many (or more) talks as I translate, as that job is equally important!

    Keep being a hero!

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