TED Translators culture series: the clàrsach with Ellen Maloney


Even if you don’t know what a clàrsach is, chances are you’ve heard one before. A Gaelic triangular, wire-strung harp, the clàrsach has been played in Scotland and Ireland since around the 10th century (and more recently, in many other parts of the world). It produces a plucked yet shimmering music full of melody, emotion and history.

TED Translator and Language Coordinator, Ellen Maloney, who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, began playing the clàrsach when she was six (though her interest in harps started three years earlier, after she saw one for the first time on TV). A natural for the instrument, it wasn’t long before Ellen was performing regularly at a variety of venues: wedding receptions, local church halls, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and even a zoo once.

Most of the clàrsach music Ellen plays is Celtic, derived from her Scottish and Irish backgrounds. However, there’s a fair amount of Jewish music in her repertoire, too; in fact, she cites her theater performance of The Diary of Anne Frank as her favorite to date.

Curious to hear Ellen on the clàrsach? Check out the clip below, which is part of the soundtrack to a short film made by an Edinburgh arts project.

A look at the 10 TED Translators selected to attend TEDGlobal 2017

We’re delighted to announce the 10 TED Translators who’ve been invited to attend TEDGlobal 2017! The conference, which will delve into the theme of Builders. Truth-tellers. Catalysts., is set to take place in Arusha, Tanzania, from August 27 to 30. Read on to learn more about these remarkable folks.

HussainHussain Al-Abdali (Saudi Arabia)
Hussain currently teaches English at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education. He attended university in both Saudi Arabia and the UK (where he studied at the University of Nottingham on scholarship), and obtained his B.A. in English. Music, poetry, philosophy and, of course, reading and writing are Hussain’s passions. A dreamer since his youth as a shepherd boy, Hussain is an avid believer in the words of Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

RiyadRiyad Almubarak (Sudan)
Engineer + freelance translator
Driven by his deep-seated passion for translation, Riyad has worked as a freelance translator since he graduated university with a degree in leather technology. He sees infinite potential in Sudanese youth to enhance their communities, themselves and even the world, and so he’s been an active participant in an array of youth initiatives in Sudan that aim to realize younger generations’ power to enact enlightened change. In addition, Riyad was an organizer and speaker at TEDxOmdurman, and he’s a cofounder of kushsudan.sd, a new organization whose goal is to increase and enrich positive Sudanese online content.

Audience members at TEDSummit2016, June 26 - 30, 2016, Banff, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Lalla Khadija (Morocco)
Business developer + marketer
A lifelong Moroccan, Lalla lives in Casablanca at present. She works in business development and marketing, and has been a prolific TED Translator for several years. Recently, she joined the TEDx organizers community as the licensee for TEDxCasablanca. Lalla is a frequent traveler, a voracious reader (in Arabic, English and French) and a new yoga convert.

IngridIngrid Lezar (South Africa + Germany)
Communications professional
Ingrid is a longtime TED Translator and Language Coordinator whose professional work focuses primarily on effective writing and presenting, visual communication and multilingualism. In recent years, she’s added German-to-English translation to her CV. Ingrid hails from South Africa, but she’s lived in Japan and Estonia, and she currently resides in Berlin. Though a cosmopolitan, she keeps her native Afrikaans polished mainly through TED Talk translations.

JoachimJoachim Mangilima (Tanzania)
Data scientist + entrepreneur
Since graduating from the University of Dar es Salaam with degrees in computer science and statistics, Joachim has channeled his expertise into using technology and its attendant data to address a range of common problems faced by underserved Tanzanian communities. Translating TED Talks into Swahili, Tanzania’s native language, is just one of many ways Joachim works to empower people in his home country.

AhmedAhmed Omer (Ethiopia)
Communications professional
Ahmed’s work focuses on popularizing ideas, particularly in so-called Third World countries, that empower people in those regions to sustainably improve their living standards—whether that’s through adopting new agricultural methods or fighting poverty and injustice, to name but a few ways. For Ahmed, ideas equal information, and information is one of humanity’s most vital assets.

NadaNada Qanbar (Yemen + Qatar)
Government translator
Born and raised in Yemen, where she taught linguistics and phonetics at Taiz University for seven years, Nada holds several graduate and postgraduate degrees, including an M.A. in audiovisual translation. Obtaining this master’s degree enabled her to hone her subtitling, dubbing and voiceover skills, including for blind, hard-of-hearing and deaf audiences—skills which then helped Nada earn her current position as an expert translator for the Qatari government. In addition to these bona fides, she maintains a deep interest in gender dynamics, particularly as they pertain to women in the Arab world. An ardent believer in the power of dialogue to build solidarity among people the world over, Nada is committed to doing her part to build a viable, sustainable global community.

NelsonNelson Simfukwe (Tanzania)
Technology entrepreneur
Based in Morogoro, Tanzania, Nelson holds a university degree in electrical and electronics engineering. He’s a cofounder of Zeal Luminance, a Kickstarter-launched business that crafts indoor lampshades with African fabrics (such as ankara, dashiki and kitenge) and recycled materials (plastic, for example), and also produces ebony wood sculptures.

GhaliaGhalia Turki (Syria)
Entrepreneur + community leader
Ghalia is the founder of Magma, a Syrian social organization that develops projects to enable Syrians in their college educations and careers. She’s also president of World Merit Syria, an outfit whose mission is to increase awareness of sustainability and foster achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (or SDG4, which strives to ensure inclusive and quality education for all people and promote lifelong learning) in Syria. A freelance translator and blogger as well, Ghalia hopes to eventually channel her work into the reconstruction of her war-ravaged country.

FatimaFatima Zahra (Morocco)
Citizen journalist
Fatima currently studies at the YaLa Academy’s Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism, a non-traditional educational enterprise that trains youth from across the Middle East and Africa in various modes of citizen reportage, always with an eye toward dialogue, storytelling and peace-building. Intensely interested in web development, too, Fatima volunteers as a content writer and manager at an Indian news startup.

TED Translators at TEDxZagreb


On May 15, TEDxZagreb was held in the Croatian capital’s Lisinski Concert Hall. Nearly a thousand attendees convened at one of the region’s largest annual TEDx events to explore how they can BUILD.FUTURE.NOW. 20 speakers presented on the theme, offering an array of insights and lessons—from fighting prejudice with humor to making large scientific advances through the study of bacteria.

Around a dozen Croatian TED Translators attended TEDxZagreb, including Ivan Stamenković, who joined the speaker lineup with his talk “I’m a translator, what’s your superpower?” Through the story of his personal experience with TED Translators, Ivan detailed the project as well as the transformative power of volunteering. Check out his full talk here.

Ivan and TED Translators clearly made an impact on TEDxZagreb’s audience and organizers, as Karlo Matic, the event’s license holder, is now reportedly discussing a possible large transcribeathon for all Croatian TEDx talks.

Where TED Translators can take you

Hanna Leliv at EdCamp Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Hanna Leliv.)

Here at TED Translators, we often report on large TED and TEDx events; but today we’d like to share a brief yet illuminating story from one of our Ukrainian translators, Hanna Leliv.

Several years back, Hanna translated a TED Talk by author and educator Sir Ken Robinson. Her excellent work on that eventually led to her translating two of Robinson’s books into Ukrainian, as well as a professional relationship between the two that’s still going strong.

Case in point: At the end of April, the third annual EdCamp Ukraine gathering took place. The event brought together over 700 educators from Ukraine (including the country’s Minister of Education) and many other nations around the world. Hanna was among EdCamp Ukraine’s attendees, and she presented a ten-minute video address by Robinson (which she’d coordinated with him prior to the gathering) to the audience. Viewers received insightful encouragement from Robinson, particularly with regard to furthering collaborative and holistic education methods over standardized ones.

Here, then, is proof positive that TED Translators’ efforts aren’t confined to the individual level; translating TED or TEDx Talks can open doors and transcend borders in profound and surprising ways. Join us and see for yourself!

TED Translators at TEDxBlumenau 2017


On April 30, TEDxBlumenau 2017 went down in Brazil, under the theme Momentum. Claudia Sander, a Brazilian Portuguese TED Translator, and her daughter were in attendance to help build momentum for TED Translators.

The pair set up and ran an info station where event participants could engage with a PowerPoint presentation on TED Translators, as well as check out the Amara platform and its translation, transcription and other capabilities. Claudia and her daughter also collected the names and email addresses of attendees who expressed interest in volunteering with TED Translators, and they handed out cards with their contact information so participants could reach out to them, too.

Following TEDxBlumenau, Claudia and her daughter emailed the folks who’d signed their mailing list, detailing how they could join TED Translators and providing them with several tutorials—all with the aim of mentoring these attendees to become regular volunteers in the near future.

TED Translators at TEDxUlaanbaatarLive

TEDxUBLive organizers

TEDxUlaanbaatar events have been taking place in Mongolia for several years now, contributing substantially to the Mongolian translation community’s steady growth. On April 27, Tuya Bat, a Mongolian TED Translator and TEDWomen 2016 attendee, along with a number of other TED Translators and TEDxUlaanbaatar volunteers, added to this growth with TEDxUlaanbaatarLive.

The gathering featured talks from TED2017, which Tuya and her colleagues translated into Mongolian and then screened at a new theater in Ulaanbaatar. Attendees were treated to some of the newest TED Talks in an atmosphere meant to approximate TED2017 as much as possible.

As Tuya said after TEDxUlaanbaatarLive, the event was a resounding success, particularly because it marked the first collaboration between Mongolian TED Translators and TEDx volunteers, and because it provided those in attendance with a unique opportunity to engage with recent TED Talks in their native language in almost real time.

Plans are already under way for more TEDxLive gatherings in Mongolia, so stay tuned here for updates on those.

TED Translators Translateathon in Syria


On April 17 and 18, the TEDxArabInternationalUniversity translateathon took place in Damascus, Syria. The event was a collaboration between Magma, a Syrian educational and social enterprise founded and headed by Arabic TED Translator Ghalia Turki, and TEDxArabInternationalUniversity organizers.

Day one saw the eight participants translate six recent TEDxArabInternationalUniversity talks from Arabic to English. On the second day, the translators reviewed the previous day’s translations. The talks will be available online soon.

To round out the translateathon, the attendees watched a video of Mario Gioto discussing his experience as a TED Translator and the benefits and possibilities afforded by translating TED and TEDx talks. The participants also received gift bags that included books published by TED, as well as bookmarks containing inspirational quotes from TED Translators around the world. As Ghalia remarked after the gathering, everyone involved walked away with not only sharpened translation chops, but palpable excitement to ramp up their translating efforts in the future, too.