TED Translators and speakers meet at TEDSummit 2016

meeting speakers
TED speaker John Hunter was thrilled to learn that Martin Hassel’s translation brought the World Peace Game to children in Norway. Photo courtesy of Martin Hassel

At the recent TEDSummit 2016, a number of TED Translators got to meet in person some of the TED speakers they’ve translated. TED’s Training Resources Manager, Krystian Aparta, talked with several of these translators about their respective meetings and how deeply engaging and productive they were—for both the translators and speakers alike.

Aparta sat down first with Coco Shen, one of TED’s Chinese translators, who early in her TED experience translated a talk by renowned psychologist and professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo. For Shen, working on Dr. Zimbardo’s talk quickly became an intimate process: “When I translate, I travel line-by-line with the speaker for hours, and his or her words and voice are in my mind the whole time. It’s almost like inhabiting the speaker,” she told Aparta. So when Shen finally met Dr. Zimbardo for the first time at TEDSummit 2016, it seemed much more a reunion to her than an introduction. She described Dr. Zimbardo as pleasantly surprised to meet her and warmly appreciative of her translations. During their meeting, Dr. Zimbardo stressed to Shen how valuable it is when his translators reach out to him, especially face-to-face: such interactions can enhance translations and personalize the work for both parties, thereby strengthening future collaborations.

One of TED’s Brazilian Portuguese translators, Gustavo Rocha, who met TED speaker and journalist Roman Mars, built upon Dr. Zimbardo’s point when he explained to Aparta that meeting Mars in person underscored the idea of global community that’s so fundamental to TED. “We translators aren’t always aware of just how much the speakers appreciate our work, because sometimes they’re based on the other side of the world and this distance can make them seem remote,” Rocha said. “But when I introduced myself to Roman Mars at the summit, he was very approachable and immediately told me how grateful he is for my and other translators’ efforts.” Rocha added that Mars (like the other speakers in attendance) was excited to learn more about all aspects of TED Translators, and that, in general, a strong sense of global citizens working together permeated the translator-speaker meetings.

To wrap up, Aparta spoke with Els De Keyser, who’s translated talks by Esther Perel and Zak Ebrahim into Dutch, about meeting both speakers at the summit: “Getting to know Esther and Zak motivates me and makes it easier to translate their talks accurately. Whatever language or distance barriers might be between us are broken down, and we can communicate and collaborate more seamlessly going forward.”

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