TED Translators at TED2018: Leila Ataie

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In this week’s edition of TED Translators at TED2018, we chat with Iranian TED Translator Leila Ataie about the “therapeutic” value of translation, her favorite TED Talks, the Jalali calendar and several other topics. Check out the interview below!


How long have you been translating with TED Translators? What initially drew you to TED Translators, and what keeps you going?

I joined TED Translators in 2013, with the desire to share TED’s inspiring talks and their ideas with my fellow Iranians. Education, I believe, is power. I must admit, though, that working with TED Translators has become “therapeutic” for me, too: It’s done a lot to further my personal exploration and growth.

Out of all the TED Talks you’ve translated, which one stands as your favorite?

It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite; I have many. In general, I gravitate toward talks in the fields of photojournalism, AI and GMO sciences, and humanitarianism.

What do you do when you’re not busy translating?

I love to travel to and explore new parts of the world. At home, I usually spend time with my family and friends, work out and read. Reading, especially, has been vital to me since I was a child; it’s one of the first ways I learned I could discover new ideas, people and places.

The theme of TED2018 is The Age of Amazement. Can you tell us about an amazing idea, event or person from your country that/whom you think more folks should know about?

Many people around the world aren’t aware that Iran follows its own calendar, one that’s more exact than the widely used Gregorian version. The Iranian calendar, known as the Jalali calendar, has its roots in the 11th century, when Seljuk Sultan Jalal al-Din Malik Shah I, the calendar’s namesake, convened a committee of astronomers to devise a more accurate way to track the years. Omar Khayyam, the Iranian poet perhaps best known for his work The Rubaiyat, was among the scientists on the committee. Though the Jalali calendar followed in Iran today has been refined over the centuries, it still hews quite close to its original model.

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