Meet the TED Translators participating in TED2020

TED2020: Uncharted. (Photo: Gilberto Tadday/TED.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered much of the architecture of our lives over the past several months, and TED2020 is no exception. The annual flagship conference, originally set to take place in Vancouver, BC, in April, is now underway as an 8-week virtual gathering. The 10 TED Translators profiled below are currently participating in TED2020 and, as you’ll see, they’re quite a dynamic and prolific collective. Read on to learn more about them.


Hamzeh Koumakli (Syria)
Medical student, freelance translator

Hamzeh resides in Homs, Syria. At present, he’s an undergraduate medical student and a freelance translator for Infermedica. He discovered TED Talks in 2015, and he credits them for helping him endure some extremely rough times during the ongoing, 9-year-old war in Syria. In 2016, Hamzeh joined TED Translators and helped organize one of the first TEDx events in his country, TEDxMimasStreet, for which he’s now the lead organizer. Recently, Hamzeh became a TED Translators Mentor for the Arabic-language community.

Daniela Pardo (Mexico)
Audiovisual translator

Daniela, who’s based in Mexico, recently received her university degree in audiovisual translation. She’s also studied translation abroad, in Spain and Germany, and she plans to pursue a master’s degree in her field. Daniela originally joined TED Translators in order to hone her translation skills for her profession, but, as she says, “I’ve gained much more than that. It’s fantastic how TED Translators unites people around the world who all strive for the same goal: to share novel ideas as far and wide as possible.”

Yingjie Zhang (China)
Medical engineering student

Yingjie currently studies medical engineering at China’s Tianjin University. As a TED Translator, her biggest satisfaction is spreading diverse ideas over language barriers. When she’s not translating TED Talks, Yingjie also translates rock-music lyrics and enjoys listening to rock music and watching movies.

Shimaa Nabil (Egypt)
Veterinarian

Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Shimaa holds both a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine and a microbiology diploma from Cairo University. She joined TED Translators primarily to increase and enrich online Arabic content, and to “break boundaries between different cultures.”

Nicoletta Pedrana (Italy)
Client-service professional

Nicoletta hails from Milan, Italy, and holds a bachelor’s degree in tourism and foreign languages (English, French and German). She credits her time studying in Germany, where she lived in a multicultural community, for opening her eyes to how huge and fascinating our world is. As a TED Translator, Nicoletta’s aim is to “spread as many seeds of positivity as possible,” particularly new advances in science and technology. When she’s not busy translating or working at a manufacturing company, you can find her hiking or skiing in the Italian Alps.

Yekaterina Jussupova (Kazakhstan)
Directing manager in the restaurant industry

Originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, Yekaterina currently resides in Karaganda, where she’s worked as a software engineer, a journalist and an editor. She’s now both a directing manager of a restaurant and a self-taught graphic designer. Yekaterina joined TED Translators’ Russian-language community in 2013, initially just seeking to improve her English skills. “However,” she says, “translating quickly became an integral part of my life, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to translate TED Talks and TED-Ed lessons and share their powerful ideas with new viewers.”

Yunjung Nam (South Korea and the U.S.)
Teacher, doctoral student

Yunjung was born in Busan, South Korea, and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she’s studying applied linguistics and teaching English and Korean at Georgia State University. Her TED Translators journey began when she first joined TEDxBusan’s organizing team and then TED Translators shortly thereafter. Yunjung’s main goal as a TED Translator has been to use her deep knowledge of language and linguistics to make TED content more accessible to viewers around the world.

Claudia Sander (Brazil)
Systems analyst

Claudia resides in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with her husband and daughter, where she works as a systems analyst at a public IT firm. She chanced upon TED Translators on Facebook in 2015, a discovery that she says “opened up for me a new world of seemingly infinite possibilities and perspectives.” Joining TED Translators has given Claudia the opportunity to become a Brazilian Portuguese Language Coordinator (LC), a TEDxLaçador co-organizer and to attend both TEDWomen 2016 and TED2020. “I love being part of and contributing to the Brazilian Portuguese TED Translators community,” she says. “And I’m always trying to help improve the onboarding experience for new volunteers.”

Yolanda Zhang (China and the U.S.)
Freelance translator

Born and raised in China, Yolanda currently works as a freelance translator in California. She joined TED Translators in 2014, while pursuing a graduate degree in the U.S. As a TED Translator, Yolanda seeks to increase interdisciplinary and intercultural communication by sharing and promoting some of the world’s most inspiring ideas. When she isn’t translating, Yolanda spends her time reading, listening to music, and wine tasting.

Ade Indarta (Indonesia)
Freelance translator

Ade was born and raised in a small town in Central Java, Indonesia, called Pekalongan. He holds both a bachelor’s degree in English literature and an MBA. Ade joined TED Translators in 2011, but he’s worked as a professional translator since 2002. Now living in Batam, Indonesia, with his family, he heads the Professional Development Committee of The Association of Indonesian Translators (HPI). In his free time, Ade enjoys hanging out with his two daughters, as well as reading and writing poetry.

Nihal Aksakal (Turkey)
Student, freelance translator

A native of Antalya, Turkey, Nihal lives and works as a freelance translator in the Mediterranean city. She holds a degree in translation and interpretation from Kirikkale University, and she’s taught English to students preparing for their ESL exams. In her free time, Nihal participates in various social responsibility projects and she enjoys photography, listening to and playing music, and reading.

Keyur Thakkar (India)
IT student

Keyur is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer application and IT at Gujarat University. He was introduced to TED Translators by one of his university’s faculty members, and has since then translated over three dozen TED Talks into multiple regional Indian languages. For Keyur, TED Translators is a global family of fellow volunteers who are all working toward a common goal: to spread groundbreaking ideas as far and wide as possible.

TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine // Part 3

For the third edition of our “TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine” series, we took a quick look at what the Indonesian language community has been up to during the global pandemic.

In late March, Indonesian Language Coordinator (LC) Ade Indarta and TED Translator/TEDx organizer Deera Army Pramana hosted an educational webinar that was attended by 35 translators in the Indonesian language community.

The event began with a tutorial on Amara that was led by Deera. Ade followed up Deera’s “Amara 101” session with a presentation that focused on mistakes TED Translators—especially new volunteers—often make in their work.

A Q&A period wrapped up the webinar, during which participants posed any translation-related questions they had to Ade and Deera.

This virtual gathering was further proof that TED Translators communities, whether in Indonesia or elsewhere in the world, continue to thrive despite the drastic burdens COVID-19 has imposed on all of our lives.


P.S. If you’d like to host a TED Translators virtual workshop, discussion session, translate-athon, transcribe-athon, or if you’re part of a TEDx team looking to recruit TED Translators for your online event, feel free to reach out to us at translate@ted.com. We’re here to support you!

TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine // Part 2

We recently published the first installment of our multi-part series focusing on several of the inventive ways that TED Translators have managed to continue subtitling and organizing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re pleased to share with you part two, for which we spoke with French TED Translator and Language Coordinator (LC) Morgane Quilfen.

Morgane and a group of her colleagues in the French language community conducted a 24-hour online transcribe-athon in early April that yielded a remarkable 19 published transcripts, as well as nearly two dozen more in progress.

“Before the event kicked off,” Morgane told us, “the organizers created a website where new volunteers who had signed up to participate in the transcibe-athon could familiarize themselves with TED Translators’ guidelines and best practices. The site also listed about 120 talks that needed transcribing.”

The event started at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, and wrapped up the following afternoon. At least one of three LCs was online at any given time to assist the 20 volunteers while they worked. “In addition,” Morgane explained, “everybody involved used the transcribe-athon’s Facebook page to exchange helpful links and other important information regarding their transcripts.”

A Zoom video chat ran throughout the entire event in order for the LCs to conduct brief teaching sessions and so participants could ask questions of or just say hello to their colleagues in real time. The livestream, Morgane reported, also facilitated hourly interviews with veteran TED Translators and TEDx organizers based in France and Japan.

Morgane further told us that about 70% of the transcribe-athon’s participants were new transcribers, most of whom had learned about the event via Facebook—either on the French TED Translators group page or the French TEDx organizers’ page.

“Overall,” Morgane said, “everyone who took part in this project was quite happy with its results—especially because it gave new TED Translators the unique opportunity to jump right into working on TED Talks while simultaneously receiving guidance and feedback from LCs. This transcribe-athon undoubtedly helped expand and strengthen the French community.”


P.S. If you’d like to host a TED Translators virtual workshop, discussion session, or translate-athon / transcribe-athon, or if you’re part of a TEDx team looking to recruit TED Translators for your online event, feel free to reach out to us at translate@ted.com. We’re here to support you!

TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine // Part 1

Kurdish LC Daban Jaff (center) with Koya University students and TED Translators

Greetings, everybody! It’s been a while since our last post, so we’re excited to share this new story with you. But first and most importantly, we here at TED Translators hope you’ve all been safe and sound during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

As it’s spread around the world, forcing us to isolate and social distance indefinitely in order to slow and stop it, the latest novel coronavirus has altered our lives in countless profound and drastic ways. It hasn’t, however, diminished our individual and collective creative capacities. Case in point: TED Translators in many countries have come up with various inventive means to continue translating and collaborating in their respective language communities.

In this time of worldwide fear and uncertainty, then, we’re happy to highlight the ingenuity of several of these translators in a multi-part series. For this first installment we spoke with Kurdish TED Translator and Language Coordinator (LC) Daban Jaff, an instructor at Koya University in Iraq, who recently organized and has overseen a virtual translate-athon with his students.

“Once the university shut down,” Daban told us, “my students (many of whom are experienced TED Translators) and I began to brainstorm how we could keep busy during quarantine. We eventually devised a project wherein each student would translate at least four TED Talks into Kurdish in 10 days. So far,” Daban reported, “nearly 40 of my students have translated well over 100 talks, and 60 more translations are in the works.” For his part, Daban has been reviewing all of his students’ translations and providing them with both individualized and group feedback.

Koya University students and TED Translators in Iraq

Daban also told us that this virtual translate-athon has been a tremendous psychological boost for him and his students during these days of self-isolation. For student and TED Translator Aga Ismael, “Nothing but volunteering has been able to cheer me up. The opportunities for collaboration and mutual support—for human connection—that it offers are boundless and have been heartening for me. I hope this TED Translators project continues for as long as possible.”

What’s more, in an effort to expand the Kurdish translation community, Daban arranged for a few local newspapers to publish his students’ translations along with links to the translated talks. You can find articles here and here.

Daban and his students’ virtual translate-athon, by any measure, has been a remarkable success and an exemplary blueprint for how TED Translators, wherever they’re based, can keep their language communities motivated and active while waiting out COVID-19’s demise.

In the next two weeks, we’ll bring you more stories of such resilience from other translation communities, so do check back in with us for those.

And stay safe out there!

A new TED Translators reviewer tutorial

Last December, we published an updated TED Translators tutorial as part of our revamped onboarding process for new volunteers. That animated video highlights both fundamental TED Translators guidelines and best practices for subtitling.

Now, we’re pleased to share with you the second installment in this tutorial series: “A Guide to Reviewing with TED Translators”. For this video, we collaborated with Language Coordinators (LCs) in order to home in on and present our top tips for TED Translators reviewers:

  • Be qualified (have at least 5 published translations or transcriptions)
  • Watch the talk first (before you make edits)
  • Give useful, actionable feedback
  • Send it back (when there are repeat errors)
  • Work as a team

Watch the video for a full explanation of each tip.

Reviewers are vital members of the TED Translators family. They ensure that subtitles are accurate and in line with TED’s quality standards, and, in doing so, contribute significantly to the growth of the global TED Translators community.

Interested in becoming a reviewer? Check out the video above for all the info you need to know to join us!

The TED Translators Mentor program expands to the Arabic, French & Korean language communities

Toward the close of 2019, we announced the launch of the TED Translators Mentor program, a dynamic initiative that pairs new volunteers with experienced Language Coordinators (LCs) and reviewers in order to optimize new translators’ work. We were piloting the program at that point only in two of our largest and most active language communities: Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese (a three-month pilot that recently wrapped up); but we promised to expand the enterprise to TED Translators’ Arabic, French and Korean language communities in early 2020.

Well, we’re happy to report that we commenced this expansion of the TED Translators Mentor program in late January, and it’s been nothing short of a resounding success.

With the addition of TED Translators’ Arabic, French and Korean language communities, over 350 new participants have joined the mentoring initiative. As in the Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese iteration of the program, in this latest rollout mentors are providing mentees with personalized feedback, answering their translation-related questions and helping accelerate the publication of mentees’ subtitles. The mentors, furthermore, can access premium subscriptions to online language tools and tune into exclusive livestreams of TED World Theater events.

We plan to introduce the TED Translators Mentor program to even more language communities in the near future, as well as implement a new mentoring quiz, so do check back in here if you’re interested in becoming a mentor or mentee. And if you’d like to participate as a mentee in the Korean, Arabic, French, Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese programs, you can sign up here.

TED Translators in Thailand

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This past weekend, after meeting with and connecting TED Translators and TEDx organizers in Vietnam earlier in the week, Jenny Zurawell and Helena Batt traveled to Thailand to gather with Thai translators and TEDx organizers.

The meetup went down on a Saturday night at Bangkok’s Indulge Fusion Food & Cocktail Bar. In attendance were 10 TED Translators (including one LC) and five TEDxChiangMai organizers and volunteers; many of them were students, IT/tech specialists, or professional translators/interpreters.

As in Vietnam, this event was the first of its kind in Thailand. It was no surprise, then, when several TED Translators met and quickly realized, much to their excitement, that they had gone to school together and hadn’t seen one another for 10 years. The TEDx organizers who attended the inaugural gathering traveled a significant distance—from the northern city of Chiang Mai—in order to plan future collaborations with translators and to invite them as attendees to their next event.

Thanks in large part to the dedication of these TED Translators and TEDx organizers, more and more people throughout Thailand are freely accessing groundbreaking ideas via TED.


TED Translators in Vietnam


In mid-February, Jenny Zurawell and Helena Batt, TED Translators’ director and deputy director, respectively, traveled to Vietnam to connect with local TED Translators and TEDx organizers in Ho Chi Minh City. Jenny, Helena, 10 translators (including three LCs), and three TEDx organizers gathered at Hum Vegetarian restaurant and lounge on a Saturday evening.

This inaugural gathering of TED Translators, TEDxPhuMy and TEDxĐaKao organizers in Southeast Asia was the first time most of the translators, LCs and TEDx organizers in attendance had the opportunity to meet one another. While connecting, several attendees discovered that they’re also students at the same university in Vietnam, as well as the fact that each of them joined the TED Translators program in order to both refine their language skills and delve into groundbreaking ideas.

The translators and TEDx-ers went on to plan future collaborations, and TEDxPhuMy organizer Thành Công invited the TED Translators to his event in April. To cap off the gathering, Jenny and Helena broke the news that Vietnamese is now the fourth most-viewed  subtitled language on TED.com.

Big things are in store for the Vietnamese translation community, so stay tuned here for more news.


The top 10 TED Translators reviewers of 2019

Our global community of language coordinators (or LCs) facilitate the TED Translators experience in a wide array of ways, from welcoming new volunteers to approving translations for publication. One of the most vital aspects of LCs’ work is reviewing subtitles and providing constructive, actionable feedback. Reviewing is an essential component of the translation process: It fosters a strong sense of teamwork and collaboration in the TED Translators community, and, just as important, reviewing improves subtitle quality—which means more TED Talk viewers around the world can connect with TED Speakers’ ideas.

That said, we’d like to introduce you to 10 LCs whose reviewing throughout 2019 merits a huge spotlight. The LCs profiled below were last year’s most prolific reviewers, collectively tackling more than 3,000 subtitled talks. We asked these invaluable contributors to the TED Translators program to share with us why they review and what advice they have for their fellow reviewers. Read on to see what they had to say.


Maricene Crus 

Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Joined TED Translators in 2014

“As a TED Translators LC, I’ve had the opportunity to build so many wonderful partnerships with my colleagues—both translators and LCs alike. Such trusty working relationships are integral to the success of TED Translators, particularly because they further solidify and motivate our community of volunteers. Every translated TED Talk or TED-Ed lesson we publish is a testament to this fact—as well as to the translators’ tireless commitment to spreading today’s most innovative ideas as far and wide as possible. To be able to contribute to all of this is priceless to me.”

Eric Vautier

Language: French
Joined TED Translators in 2012

“LC reviews are a crucial component of publishing accurate translations of TED Talks. First off, because it entails identifying structural issues with translations and alerting translators to them, reviewing is an LC’s initial step in mentoring new volunteers. Secondly, our reviews, particularly when completed quickly, show translators that their work is valued and keeps them motivated. And finally, LC reviews help TED Translators organize their own translation teams, so to speak; I know of a lot of translators from numerous backgrounds who, thanks to the reviewing process, now regularly collaborate with each other.”

Peter Van de Ven

Languages: Dutch and English
Joined TED Translators in 2014

“Know your reviewee. Find out who you are talking to, and adjust your feedback accordingly.”

Lidia Camara

Language: Spanish
Joined TED Translators in 20
09

“Whether you’re an LC or a translator, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for help if need be. And remember that you’re part of an amazing project; your work benefits you along with countless others.”

Helen Chang

Language: Traditional Chinese
Joined TED Translators in 2016

Ade Indarta 

Language: Indonesian
Joined TED Translators in 2012

“As a TED Translator, it’s always been exciting and inspiring to me when my translations are reviewed and published. One of my main goals as an LC is to provide other TED Translators that same satisfaction and motivation I’ve experienced. To add to that, here’s something key I’ve learned as an LC that I’d like to share with my colleagues: Reviews optimally benefit translators and translation communities alike when they include both corrections and useful feedback.”

Claudia Sander

Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Joined TED Translators in 2015

“LC reviews were extremely instructive and encouraging to me as a novice TED Translator. Furthermore, I regard my LC work as a way to pass along to new volunteers what my mentors taught me and to spur these translators to graduate to LCs themselves.”

Jihyeon Kim

Language: Korean
Joined TED Translators in 2014

“To me, reviewing is fundamental to the TED Translators program: It simultaneously acknowledges translators’ dedication to the project and increases viewer access to TED Talks and the pioneering ideas they present.”

Riyad Almubarak

Language: Arabic
Joined TED Translators in 2014

“Reviewing is perhaps the most important part of subtitling TED Talks: It not only enhances TED Translators’ translation skills, but it also enables language learners worldwide to continually access TED Talks as an indispensable resource. That’s why I encourage all LCs to strive for accuracy as much as possible while reviewing.”

Margarida Ferreira 

Language: Portuguese
Joined TED Translators in 2014

“Reviewing translations as an LC has helped me to realize and remember that my idiom is often not the same as that of a speaker I’m translating. Given this, it’s important that LCs maintain regular contact with the translators they’re working with and discuss any and all changes or corrections with them.”

Introducing the winners of our TEDWomen 2019 subtitling contest!

To honor TEDWomen 2019, we here at TED Translators recently hosted a subtitling contest to help highlight novel ideas being shared by female speakers from around the world. Each TED Translator who participated was asked to select a TED or TEDx talk given by a female speaker, and then collaborate with a reviewer or Language Coordinator (LC) in their respective language community to create and publish subtitles for their particular talk within a month. More than 150 TED Translators took part in the contest, and, without exaggeration, every entry we received was sincere and thoughtful in its own way. A huge thank-you to everybody who participated! Check out the winners and their timely and insightful submissions below.


Masoud Motamedifar and Leila Ataei

Translated talk: Leila Pirhaji: The medical potential of AI and metabolites

We decided to translate this talk into Persian because we both believe that health is the most valuable gift that life offers us. And by extension, we believe that any substantive effort, such as Leila’s, to discover more effective treatments for prevalent diseases is a vital undertaking to share with as many language communities as possible. We were also intrigued by Leila’s approach of combining mathematics and artificial intelligence to treat diseases.

On a related note: Since this contest is in honor of women, we’d like to highlight the fact that many extremely talented and skillful women reside in Iran, and Leila Pirhaji, a pioneering scientist, is undoubtedly one of them.

Agnieszka Fijałkowska and Marta Grochowalska

Translated talk: Deepa Narayan: 7 beliefs that can silence women — and how to unlearn them

We translated author and researcher Deepa Narayan’s talk into our native Polish because we strongly believe that every woman should watch it; the issues she discusses are universal to all women. In her talk, Deepa identifies seven “beliefs” that largely silence and repress women, and she shows us how we—women and men alike—can unlearn these regressive conceptions. She also incisively demontrates how both these beliefs and their antidotes cut across so many of the world’s societies and cultures and their respective social hierarchies. In short, then, we translated Deepa’s talk because it truly has the power to effect progressive social changes on a worldwide scale.

Mária Ruzsáné Cseresnyés, Andi Vida and Zsófia Herczeg

Translated Talk: Rabiaa El Garani: Hope and justice for women who’ve survived ISIS

We chose to translate human rights protector Rabiaa El Garani’s talk into Hungarian because it addresses an array of important and fascinating (and sometimes appalling) experiences by women around the world, while simultaneously providing a study in exemplary human empathy. Born in Belgium to uneducated parents who had emigrated there from Morocco, Rabiaa nonetheless fully integrated into European society and culture. But she didn’t assimilate: She continued to speak her native Arabic and maintained a strong connection to her Moroccan roots.

It’s this deep understanding of multiple cultures that has fueled and informed Rabiaa’s vital human rights work in some of the world’s most violent regions—including in Iraq, where she’s worked to heal the trauma of Yazidi women who’ve survived the genocidal campaigns of mass murder and rape perpetrated there by the Islamic State group (IS; formerly ISIS). Which brings us to the other reason we translated Rabiaa’s talk: to show our fellow European citizens that, contrary to the popular notion that many migrants to the continent are terrorists or other bad actors, most are actually people who are trying to escape terrorism and other violence and rebuild their shattered lives.