An interview with Afrikaans TED Translator Ingrid Lezar

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Photo courtesy of Ingrid Lezar

Ingrid Lezar is an Afrikaans TED Translator and Language Coordinator. Originally from South Africa, she now resides in Berlin. We recently spoke with Ingrid via email about her work to help create a burgeoning Afrikaans translation community. Read on to learn more about the exciting developments.

What efforts are you currently undertaking to build the Afrikaans translation community?

I’d like to preface my answer here with a note that my efforts are at a relatively nascent and modest stage right now. That said, my involvement with the Afrikaans translation community started when I reached out to an Afrikaans association called VivA, which I heard about on the radio the last time I was in South Africa. The group sponsors, among other activities, contests that invite people to write in to the association with the best idioms they have to offer—either favorite new idioms, or those popular with family or friends.

I told VivA about TED Translators and my desire to build a larger Afrikaans translation community, and the organization asked me to write pieces related to this for its blog and an Afrikaans translators Facebook group (which around half a dozen people have joined so far); the publication of my pieces purposely coincided with International Translation Day. And recently, another large Afrikaans language and culture association, ATKV, contacted me regarding my efforts and potential collaboration, but it’s too early yet to say what might develop between us.

Does living in Berlin (as opposed to South Africa) help or hinder these efforts?

Well, living in Berlin limits my exposure to Afrikaans media, which in turn means I have less exposure to groups or individuals who could possibly be a boon to my project. But I’m able to access some Afrikaans radio online, and email and social media have been very helpful in closing the distance between me and my South African colleagues.

What is currently the biggest challenge you face in building the Afrikaans translation community?

In a word: numbers! I’ve been involved with TED Translators since around the start of its first iteration, the Open Translation Project, and in that time the Afrikaans translation community (or what’s passed for one) has translated only 20 or so talks—roughly three talks per year. Most of the volunteers responsible for these translations are no longer active in the community, so, as I mentioned earlier, it’s really just a few folks and me right now. All of this is to say that we need more volunteers! With more volunteers we can finally review talks that have been waiting for it for ages—and then move on to translating more.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve currently been reworking already-translated talks—my own and others’—because many of them were done on old systems that presented a number of issues that Amara has since addressed. Actually, this was what compelled me to sign up as an Afrikaans Language Coordinator: my old translations had lots of adjustments that needed to be made, and I wasn’t previously able to address them.

How would you ideally like to see the Afrikaans translation community develop?

I think the first and most crucial development we need is growth, and that’s my primary focus at this point. If we can build a large volunteer pool, we’ll be able to significantly increase both the amount and rate of our translations without overwhelming ourselves.

In addition, it would be wonderful if other official South African languages were eventually taken up by TED Translators. TEDx events occur quite often in South Africa, so it would be great if all of them could eventually be translated into as many of our languages as possible.

What can people who are interested in contributing to the Afrikaans translation community do to get involved?

Join! They can find all the relevant information and links in this VivA blog post.

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