TED Open-Translation Project Brings Subtitles in 40+ Languages to TED.com
A first-of-its-kind toolset is empowering volunteer translators worldwide to bring TED talks to their communities
A year in the making, the project offers video subtitles, time-coded transcripts and the ability for volunteers worldwide to translate any talk into any language. The project launches with 300 translations in 40 languages; more than 200 volunteer translators have already contributed.
“TED’s mission is to spread good thinking globally, and so it’s high time we began reaching out to the 4.5 billion people on the planet who don’t speak English,” says TED Curator
Each of the 400+ talks on TED.com will now offer:
- Subtitles, in English and many additional languages (several videos carry up to 25 languages at launch)
- A time-coded, interactive transcript, in multiple languages, which lets you click on any phrase and jump straight to that point in the video. This makes the entire content of the video indexable on search engines
- Translated headlines and video descriptions, which appear when a new language is selected
- Language-specific URLs which play the chosen subtitles by default
Generously supported by a visionary sponsorship from Nokia, the TED Open Translation Project is one of the most comprehensive attempts by a major media platform to subtitle and index online video content. It’s also a groundbreaking effort in the public, professional use of volunteer translation.
“Volunteer translation will be increasingly important for anyone trying to reach a global audience,” says
Crowd-sourced translations in all the world’s languages
To launch the Open Translation Project, a handful of talks were professionally translated into 20 languages. But all translations going forward will be provided by volunteers. In fact, volunteer translators have already contributed more than 200 published translations to the project (with 450 more in development). These volunteers range from well-organized groups working together in their own language, to lone translators working individually and matched by TED with others.
To support this program, TED and technology partner dotSUB have developed a set of tools that allow participants around the world to translate their favorite talks into their own language. This approach is scalable, and — importantly — allows speakers of less-dominant languages an equal opportunity to spread ideas within their communities.
This open-source approach mimics the successful strategies of products like Wikipedia, Linux and Mozilla, which have proven the power — and ultimate reliability — of open solutions. Crowd-sourced translation has already been proven effective on a handful of sites worldwide, including Wikipedia and the Global Voices blog at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
To ensure quality translations, TED established a set of guidelines and systems to help translators deliver the best work possible. To begin with, a professionally generated (and speaker-approved) English transcript is provided for each talk, so that all translations are based on the same source document. TED then requires every translation to be reviewed by a second fluent speaker before it’s published; both translator and reviewer are credited by name on the site. TED controls the final “publish” button (nothing is “automatically” published), and there are feedback mechanisms for ongoing community input and improvement after publication.
At launch, TED’s Open Translation Project will include more than 300 translations, in more than 40 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Kirghiz, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Our translators hail from cities from
Accurate, searchable, interactive transcripts for every TEDTalk
Each of the 400+ TED talks now has a time-coded, interactive transcript, in English and all available languages. Using this interactive transcript, a user can select any phrase and have the video play from the point where that phrase is spoken. The transcripts will be fully indexable by search engines — in all languages — exposing previously inaccessible content within the talks themselves. For example, someone searching on Google for “green roof” will ultimately find the moment in architect
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then, its scope has broadened to include science, business, the arts, and the global issues facing our world. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives –in 18 minutes. Attendees have called it “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future.” The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, and philanthropists — is as remarkable as the speakers, who have included
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