TED Translators idiom stickers at TED2017


Before TED2017 got under way earlier this week, the 10 TED Translators invited to the conference submitted idioms in their native languages; these were then illustrated by UK artist Masahito Leo Takeuchi and turned into stickers.

As a fun way for the translators to connect with their fellow TED2017 attendees and share a part of their respective cultures, they’ve been giving out their stickers to folks and explaining the idioms pictured on them.

Check out the idiom stickers from TED2017 and TEDSummit 2016 (where idiom stickers were handed out for the first time) here.

TED Translators Workshop at TED2017

Yesterday, ahead of TED2017’s kickoff in Vancouver earlier today, TED Translators held a workshop for the 10 translators invited to the conference. (Ghalia Turki, an Arabic translator from Syria, was forced to attend via Skype after she was unable to obtain a visa.)

After an introduction and a fun tongue-twister activity (more on that later this week), TED Translators staff gave presentations on topics ranging from finding and posting TED Talks to aligning Amara development with TED Translators’ needs. Check out the YouTube playlist above to watch these presentations.

The workshop wound down with an open discussion session, during which the attendees shared ideas and approaches on mentorship in different language communities and handling long subtitle-review queues, among other issues. All in all, the workshop was a useful and productive warmup for the TED Translators as they headed into TED2017.

Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

TED Translators at TEDxOmdurman

On February 25, TEDxOmdurman took place in Sudan. The event, which was organized by Arabic TED Translator Dr. Anwar Dafa-Alla, was themed What We Need Now? With nearly two dozen speakers ranging from engineers to students to entrepreneurs, and with over 1,000 attendees, TEDxOmdurman was one of the most successful TEDx gatherings in Sudan to date.

TED Translators was represented at the event by Arabic TED Translator Riyad Almubarak, who spoke to the audience about the TED Translators program and invited those present to get involved as volunteer translators and transcribers. In keeping with TEDxOmdurman’s theme, Riyad discussed how the TED Translators  program can help spread Sudanese ideas and perspectives globally, and influence people both within and outside of Sudan to look more closely at, and perhaps contribute to, the renaissance of the country.

Following TEDxOmdurman, Riyad and 15 new volunteer translators began transcribing and translating the gathering’s talks into English. Check out Riyad’s talk here.

An interview with Japanese TED Translator Mai Iida


Mai Iida is a Japanese TED Translator who recently spoke at TEDxTohokuUniversity. A TEDWomen 2016 attendee, one of the primary aims of her work—translation and otherwise—is to connect Japan’s smaller communities and regions with its larger ones in order to help revitalize the former. TED’s Dimitra Papageorgiou chatted with Mai ahead of TEDxTohokuUniversity; read on to learn more about Mai and her TEDx Talk.

Your TEDx Talk is titled “Words with No Walls”. Can you give us a brief summary of what it’s about?

Well, “Words with No Walls” is the title, but the theme of my talk, if you will, is “How an ‘outsider’ can make a difference in a community”. In other words, how can someone who isn’t a native of a particular community nonetheless immerse herself in it and help to enact progressive changes and developments—especially in ways that are personally meaningful to her.

How do you hope your talk will inspire your audience?

I’d simply like to inspire their drive and pride in their respective passions and pursuits, regardless of their individual backgrounds. If my talk can inject even just a modicum of more vigor into their work, then I think I can call it “successful.”

How do you feel about giving a TEDx Talk?

At first, I didn’t feel qualified to speak onstage, and I’m still quite nervous about doing so. But I keep reminding myself that, although my accomplishments may not be commensurate to some of the other speakers’, I do have an idea worth sharing—an idea that will hopefully resonate with attendees and online viewers of my talk.

Can you tell us about Fukuoka, where you currently live, and why you decided to move there from Tokyo?

Fukuoka is a city located in southwestern Japan. I moved here mainly because I hadn’t visited the city before, and I wanted to live and work (I teach English) in a completely new environment.

I’d also like to mention Tohoku, which is roughly a three-hour flight from Fukuoka. I visit Tohoku at least once a year for several activities I’m involved with; but more importantly, and as I’ll discuss in my TEDx Talk, Tohoku abounds with people—both locals and visitors—who work for various social causes amid a rich culture that continues to flourish thanks in part to these individuals’ efforts.

How are you aiming to connect your local regions with the rest of the world?

Right now I aim to do this through educating younger generations on a local level. As an English teacher, my primary goal is to help children discover their dreams and passions through the English language, and then encourage them to go out into the world and pursue them. My public speaking and blogging are also tools I use to share my vision globally.

In your opinion, what does the future hold for these local communities?

I think the future could be rough for a lot of the local communities we’ve discussed, given Japan’s declining overall population and the increasing number of people migrating to Tokyo. However, I believe the legacy of these local communities can be preserved, and even built upon, so long as inspiring individuals continue to try to revitalize such regions. The key, though, is that we work together toward this aim; together, I’m confident, we can keep these local communities not only alive, but thriving. So let’s continuously educate others about the beauty of these regions, and keep their doors open to those folks who wish to visit.

TED Translators culture series: Brazilian literature with Leonardo Silva

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It’s been a while since our last culture series post, so we’re pleased to return with a look at one of Brazilian literature’s classic novels, O Cortiço, which translates from Brazilian Portuguese to The Slum in English.

O Cortiço, which was recommended to us by Brazilian Portuguese TED Translator Leonardo Silva, was written by Aluísio Azevedo and first published in 1890. The novel, in a style that’s drawn comparisons to those of Emile Zola and Mark Twain, braids together various narratives of Portuguese immigrants living in the tenements of Rio de Janeiro in the late 19th century; but the main stories in O Cortiço concern the relationships between a landlord and two of his tenants involved in a tumultuous affair.

As Silva told us, the novel continues to resonate with him (and many other readers) because of its poetic and detailed portraits of Rio de Janeiro’s denizens living under the city’s complex social and economic structures; and because these portraits provide historical context for Rio’s current socioeconomic climate.

To learn more about O Cortiço, head here.

A brief check-in with TED Translators in Poland

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Photo by Paulina ‘Pina’ Bartosińska

On March 26, a dozen Polish TED Translators, in conjunction with TEDxWarsaw, gathered in Poland’s capital for their fourth community-building workshop.

The event opened with a fun ice-breaker activity, and included several interactive exercises and quizzes. (Read the full event writeup by organizer Kinga Garnette-Skorupska.) The workshop’s aim was to bring together Polish translators and transcribers to build relationships and to discuss their collective subtitling efforts, recent issues they’ve encountered in their work, as well as the different tools and resources available to them.

As the event wrapped up, attendees planned independent meet-ups and “transcribeathons” to put into practice what they explored and learned in Warsaw. All in all, the workshop was yet another boon for TED Translators’ growing Polish contingent.

TED Translators at TEDxMohammedia

Lalla Khadija Tigha on stage at TEDxMohammedia

In North African news, TED Translator Lalla Khadija Tigha recently represented TED Translators at TEDxMohammedia in Morocco. This was the first time TED Translators collaborated with a TEDx event in the country.

TEDxMohammedia posed the question What if? to its speakers. In part of her presentation and response, Lalla shared her personal experience as a TED Translator, as well as the tremendous reach TED Translators has achieved in terms of spreading ideas and knowledge globally. She also invited and encouraged the audience to join TED Translators.

Lalla’s talk and invitation were embraced by many attendees, who enthusiastically sought her out afterward for more information on getting involved with TED Translators. In addition, Fatima Zahra El Aouam, a TEDxMohammedia organizer, said that she and her team look forward to future collaborations with Lalla and TED Translators—such as a soon-to-be-scheduled “transcribeathon” for all of the event’s talks.