In 2009, TED launched its Open Translation Project (OTP) to enable TED Talk viewers around the world to freely translate and share talks in any language. The project kicked off with 300 translations in 40 languages, courtesy of 200 volunteer translators, and it spurred a remarkable increase in new translations—a prolific output that continues today.
Eventually, the OTP expanded to include TEDx talks, TED-Ed lessons and content for TED’s global distribution partners. Earlier this year, the project rebranded itself as TED Translators, evolving to an identity that more personally represents TED’s volunteer-translator community.
Now, seven years after its initial inception, we’re very excited to announce that TED Translators has published over 100,000 subtitles. Reaching this milestone is due in no small part to our nearly 25,000 volunteer translators, who currently work in over a hundred languages and in 155 countries. Without their tireless, meticulous efforts, TED Talks like Matt Cutt’s and Derek Sivers’s (which are among the most translated and viewed talks on TED.com) would not, it’s safe to say, enjoy the worldwide popularity they do.
As always, though, TED Translators has its sights set on the future, on building upon its success. New subtitle languages are regularly added to our talks (Mauritian Creole and Rusyn are recent additions), and new volunteers continue to join TED Translators at a steady rate. What’s more, languages with relatively small populations of native speakers, like Nepali, Galician and Kazakh, account for some of TED’s fastest-growing subtitle groups.
The future of TED Translators will focus on supporting the community’s needs so that they may continue to extend the reach of great ideas. “First and foremost, TED Translators is about growing the global exchange of ideas,” TED Translators Director Kristin Windbigler says, “and that’s exactly what we’ll continue doing. Of course, our community of transcribers and translators is key to this growth, and we’re extremely grateful for our amazing volunteers’ ongoing contributions. Without their unending hard work, we might never have reached this milestone.”