This conversation is closed.

How can we improve the TED translations project?

Can we make TED translations even better and more accurate? How can we cooperate easier with other translators? Are you spreading the good word on all kinds of social networks? What about on local "youtubes" - each country has its own one.What about schools and universities?

In my opinion TED could also be used as a great language learning/improving tool. After a translation is completed, a mechanism displaying the english/other language text could be displayed simultaneously. Viewing the body language, the accent and the intonation together with the simultaneous translation can bring to the experience.

Please share your ideas how this great project can expand become more accessible?

  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: One more thing: I would love to see the name of the translator in the list of translations "available for review".
    • thumb
      Mar 5 2011: It's a good idea Els, I couldn't agree more. As time goes by, we tend to know each other and how we work. Knowing the translator's name would be a nice new feature.
      • thumb
        Mar 9 2011: Yes that would be nice. I remember my first time reviewing a talk I basically had to rewrite everything. Given that I'm still an unexperienced reviewer it would be nice to go with someone who's clearly fluent.
  • thumb
    Feb 18 2011: I think new translators should get more advice on what it means to translate subtitles. It is not only about knowing English and transfer it into your native language. It is more complex. Maybe this would prevent very poor translations, because sometimes the review is really hard work!

    Furthermore I would like to have more feedback, not only from the reviewer.
    • thumb
      Feb 18 2011: I fully agree with your ideas, Katja.

      I had few reviews which took more time than a new translation, and of course had few reviews with zero work.
      Many times I wish I could ask for feedback from a fellow experienced translator.

      New translators must receive detailed advices from TED Translation directly or, maybe a better solution, from experienced translators.
      I'm not sure that most of new translators even read the style guide: http://www.ted.com/pages/view/id/295, which is a bare minimum.

      And I hate when the new translator's only tool is Google translator.
      • thumb
        Feb 19 2011: Yes, I suffer from that too.

        1) When a translator gets bored, he/she makes poor translations hoping that reviewer will correct the mistakes.

        2) There are some reviewers who want to increase number of translated talks. So when they encounter a talk with lots of mistakes, they do not correct them.

        What do you think about my suggestion? Here is more detailed version:

        When it will be possible to start conversations in every language, translators should start a new conversation about the subtitle (He/she will include the related TED talk in the conversation). Since under the TED talk user can see related conversations, viewer who is not satisfied with the subtitle (typos, wrong translations, poor translation etc.) will directly go and comment there.
        • thumb
          Feb 19 2011: When I review a very poor translation, e.g. one which has large portions of Google Translate, I contact the translator first and kindly explain that more is expected. If I get no reaction or if the translator is not willing to put in more effort himself, I contact TED. They then reassign the translation. Luckily, this happened only twice. Usually, I find cooperation with other translators very pleasant.
    • thumb
      Feb 20 2011: With respect to subtitles, I would suggest the following guidelines:

      1. Always keep in mind how many (how few) seconds the viewer has to read your text. Usually it's only 2 to 3 seconds. Not all viewers are speed readers.

      2. Having regard to the first point, you can easily omit all words that don't really add meaning, like "I mean", "actually", "And" (at the beginning of the sentence), "you know" etcetera.

      I would be interested in reading other rules of thumb for translating subtitles.
      • thumb
        Feb 25 2011: Time constraint is something to be reminded once and again... we are translating TEDTalks firstly because we like to spread ideas so we should have in mind all the time the audience to whom we are working for. We are not working for people with a good commandment of the English language. Or, maybe, if they have good enough English they depend on the subtitles because of hear-impairment issues, so keep it short is not only a matter of aesthetics and style, it actually comes to a readability/usability subject.
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: It would help if dotub were a little more powerful. Instead of showing yellow highlights, it could show exactly what the reviewer changed. Some kind of Word-like "comment" feature with text balloons would also be nice. It's difficult to do all this by mail.
  • thumb
    Mar 9 2011: There could be an option below each subtitled TEDtalk to report errors in translations. TED admin could then decide whether or not a talk should be reopened for review. Also, TED could have specific people each fluent in one of the available languages, doing some routine quality control on newly released translations. I am sure that some of the TEDsters with the highest amount of TED translation and reviews would be more than happy to fill that role.
    • thumb
      Mar 10 2011: Hi Matthieu,

      this is a very good point, I think. It should be easier to correct translations.

      And yes, I suggested this some time ago, a kind of "senior"-translator for every language would be helpful to maintain and improve the quality of the translations.
    • thumb
      Mar 10 2011: I fully agree wth this proposal. It could be one of the roles for the "coaches" I posted about earlier in this thread.
    • thumb
      Mar 10 2011: "There could be an option below each subtitled TEDtalk to report errors in translations. TED admin could then decide whether or not a talk should be reopened for review. "

      The TED staff wouldn't know if the error is real or not.

      The current process is basically what you describe, except the translator needs to contact TED and not the other way around, which makes sence, since if you're keen enough on asking for reopening of the talk, you're obviously willing to fix some errors.

      Eliminating the middle man (the TED staff) from the process is, in my opinion, a better approach. The TED staff should only monitor translations to keep them from being abused (which isn't exactly a real threat, but considering TED have had discussions on that, it seems like they feel that it is).
  • thumb

    J J LEE

    • +4
    Feb 18 2011: It's hard to modify for a translator after a translation is completed. It'd be better to give translators constant rights to modify their work after publishing. So when they got other opinions, The feedback could be applied constantly.

    "Many hands make light work." If we make local collaboration as a translation group to work with their colleagues at schools, universities, organizations and local communities, we can get closer cooperation and feedback inside that groups before publishing talks.

    And I think it's important to enhance responsibility of translators. Evaluation system by folks ever watched the talk and more TEDCreds for translation could be options.
  • Feb 11 2011: What about wikipedia-style open editing, so you could fix transcription mistakes yourself?
    • thumb
      Feb 19 2011: That would be nice. It would probably lead to translations being available faster. Now some text are stuck for a very long time with one translator.

      But I guess it would require a totally different system, with different roles for people too. The process would be much more collaborative than it is now.

      For starters, I would suggest that when a transcription error is detected, a leaner process than the current one be followed. Now, even when there's only a tiny change, the translation is unavailable until both translator and reviewer have okayed it. I guess that one person could easily do the job.
  • thumb
    Mar 10 2011: Just a minor addition to the many very good suggestions that have already been made:
    Whenever TED has a speaker who has his/her text written down (a poem, for example), I would suggest that it should become standard practice that TED asks the speaker for a copy of the exact text.
    That way there can be no mis-understandings in the transcript.
  • thumb
    Mar 1 2011: I completely agree with the observations by Katja Tongucer. Translating subtitles requires something special beyond the plain knowledge of the two languages.

    A great suggestion by Laszlo Kereszturi, when he says: "New translators must receive detailed advices from TED Translation directly or, maybe a better solution, from experienced translators."

    I think any new volunteer for translation should be required to show his abilities in this kind of work, good will is certainly not enough. I am a new translator, and I have to say I was totally surprised when I was accepted without asking from me any evidence of my qualifications for this important task. I should add that some special training could also be prescribed before starting, well beyond the general style guidelines.
  • thumb
    Feb 24 2011: We at dotSUB would love to continually improve the process of translating/subtitling TED Talks into other languages. This dialogue in the new TED Conversations is a great help in better understanding how a variety of translators sees things, as well as innovative suggestions for improvements.

    Please keep the ideas flowing.
  • thumb
    Feb 19 2011: I've said this in another conversation already, but I think something very important missing from the translation project is the option to download talks with subtitles! I don't know if you've noticed, but so far whrn you download a TEDTalk you can only do it without subtitles.
  • thumb
    Mar 7 2011: I also remembered one more thing...It would be nice if the video could be putted on the side of the subtitle editor AND updated in real time as changes to the subtitles are made.

    What I do currently is open the video in a new tab, change, refresh the video page and forward again to the portion I'm currently inspecting. It would be much nicer if this could be reduced to "change, rewind to the start of the portion I'm inspecting".
  • thumb
    Feb 26 2011: I would like to come back on Katja's idea of providing more guidance for new translators. Some experienced translators may be willing to act as coaches for newcomers. To me, it does not matter whether their experience comes from translating for TED or from other subtitling experience.

    These translators could be identified as potential coaches, open to requests from newcomers to review their translation.

    In order do have a kind of check on this, it may be helpful to have a moment of evaluation upon completion of a translation:
    1. The reviewer could express an opinion about the translator's general translation skills and specific subtitling skills. He could also evaluate the cooperation as such.
    2. The translator could evaluate the reviewer in the same way. Here you could add a review of the coaching capabilities of the reviewer.

    I don't think this evaluation should be mandatory for each translation. It should be an option to give meaningful feedback. If the idea of volunteer coaches would be accepted, I would recommend to wait to give them this label until they have received a couple of positive evaluations of completed translations.
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: First, I'd have to disagree about the transcription being wikified. The transcription is a reference point for all translations, so it helps if the producer of the talk is responsible for it. For TEDTalks, that's English, for non-English TEDx talks, that's whatever the language of the organizer is.

    I do agree with most other suggestions though. Here's my list (with agreements of previous comments included):
    1. A way for comments within the dotSub interface from both translator and reviewer, with comments being attachable to every line.
    2. An actual changelog (along with the commentary) ideally with a diff view between two dates. I currently do it manually for most of my reviews unless there are only a few subtle errors.
    3. A direct access to my completed translations and reviews for later modifications. Right now, "contact the translator" in turn means for the translator to forward the message to TED to regain temporary access to fix all errors... times each such report.
    4. (Email?) notifications in case of any changes (transcriptions, translation, comments) - in the case of transcriptions, so that we could alter translations accordingly if necessary. In the case of translations, so that TED could be notified of changes post completion in case they wish to monitor translations. In the case of comments, so that reviewer and translator could keep up with each other.
    5. Again related to the comments - let 3rd parties leave comments (logged in users only) to any subtitles. This is going to be especially useful for transcription revisions, so that instead of contacting TED, we could suggest changes as comments on the transcriptions for TED to be notified about and take according actions should they decide to incorporate such changes. 3rd parties' comments should be deletable by the primary parties (especially needed when TED does incorporate a suggested changes; you don't want outdated comments hanging around).
    • thumb
      Feb 26 2011: That's a nice overview of suggestions. You're right about the transcription being the basic source. The only thing is that it should be easier to amend. But you cover that in your suggestions.

      For non-English TEDx talks, I would think that the English translation should also have a special status, because I presume it would (or at least could) be the basis for further translation by the current translators, serving as a kind of 'lingua franca' among translators.
  • thumb
    Feb 25 2011: That's a lot of questions rolled into one! Translating is a job, which implies a certain mastery and training, and like any other job, many amateurs can do as well or even much better than some professionals.
    However, some initial advice pushed towards new translators stressing the importance of adapting cultural elements might help.
    When reviewing, I agree with Els that being able to pick a translation to review while being aware of the original translator's name would first help choosing, and secondly reinforce some fruitful cooperations.
    Being able to choos to download video and subtitles together might help spread the word more easily, my students love it when we work from a TED video but moste of them end up eager to uderstand it fully and go beyond class assignment. It has even triggered a few adventures in subtitles, one day I may well try a class project on a TED talk...
  • thumb
    Feb 20 2011: Usually before reviewing a work I know what to expect. Since I know most of the translators' style it takes anywhere from 2 to 20 hrs or even more for a review. I remember a case of a translator doing an absolutely free translate. Messages followed and we resolved the issue. It is the different style of translations I guess. I think it is important that the translators have been to an English speaking country or have had at least a contact from such, because there are so many things that cannot be easily translated keeping the original intent of the speaker.

    I greatly agree with the idea of Els de Keyser about Dotsub. I have discussed it with the founder of dotSub a couple of times but I guess they did not fully accomplish it. I also suggested that whenever there are some changes from both sides the translator can actually go through the reviewer's work. There should be more chat between the two so that the product at the end is of best help to the people who watch the TED talk.
  • thumb
    Feb 15 2011: There is another conversation in the ideas folder about translating the whole TED site to different languages (navigation, the about panels, etc.).
    While this isn't exactly pertinent to your question, it would be an important step to get more people into the TED community.

    Maybe later there could be an effort to translate into english the TEDx talks from different languages. There are some real gems out there which should be watched by a wider community.
    • thumb
      Feb 19 2011: I agree with you on translating the TEDx talks. It should not be too difficult to have a "master translation" into English and to take the translation effort into additional languages from there. This way, the bulk of the work could be done by the current community, whereas otherwise you would need an awful lot of language combinations.
  • thumb
    Feb 11 2011: I think each translation should have a conversation page here to discuss the subtitle quality. This will create more interaction than sending e-mail to translator. About simultaneous display, can't we do it now with interactive transcript?
  • thumb
    Mar 10 2011: From the following conversation:
    www.ted.com/conversations/1075/what_would_be_the_best_way_to.html

    I was reminded TED and/or dotSub needs to have captions/overlays. I'm not sure if the ".sub" file format supports captions/overlays though, so implementability of that is questionable.

    If it doesn't support captions/overlays, perhaps dotSub and TED could come up with a "standard" (i.e. an agreement) of their own about creating such. Note that unlike timing in subtitles, because the caption/overlay needs to be positioned specifically for each language, the translator must have the ability to move it around (the timing of appearance and disappearance can still be locked).
  • thumb
    Mar 10 2011: Are you talking about coherent cognition? Translation amongst one another? The issue is typically the question are to boast a collaborative thought rather then introducing personal comprehensive learning to the collaborative thought and sharing a organizing the thoughts amongst one another. It is a fine line but ultimately the perspectives become from location, income, possible restraints, etc.. Real translation only occurs at the highest level where it is no longer needed. The Ted platform should concentrate entirely on stabilizing this information. Another word Bill Gates should be looking for information from the troubles he introduced to society. Which is what hes doing in the open learning projects, gathering information from the audience within an open platform. His latest on State budget ultimately concludes that at anyone time the overall purchases from the state either accommodate one state and most often another nation. It being another nation is the issue, as states are collectively losing money overall, individually to either one another and ultimately nations such as Britain, Japan, and Germany. This are basic formations. Look at the European Union as the push and pull of hungry wolves. Onces money is introduced to any one of the 13+ aligned nations they can easily have their share and place funds accordingly to best strategize against repayment with seemingly not breaking any laws or regulations throughout the abundance of more micro imports and exports.
  • thumb
    Mar 9 2011: Interesting and useful discussion...following up.
  • thumb
    Mar 9 2011: I wonder if there is a panel for each language pair consisting few translators to review the translated and published talks. I noticed that there are many talks which are published with very inadequate translation.
  • thumb
    Feb 27 2011: It would be nice if we could have subtitles for the Best of The Web TEDTalks. Of course, it's a technical issue, not just a matter of choice. However, I'd think it's possible to do it.
    • thumb
      Feb 28 2011: Well, technically, there's nothing stopping anyone to download a video from YouTube or whatever (there are many browser add-ons that do it, and it's relatively easy to do it "manually" using web developer tools), and then reupload the video to dotSub and/or TED.

      The problem then is legal - it's one thing to link to a talk, it's a whole other thing to host a copy, where you can unintentionally imply you own the original. Perhaps if TED has a separate differetly colored player for such talks so that the "externality" is more obvious... still, that's for TED to decide, and for us to support.
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2011: I agree with Katja. As J. Delisle said: "To link up different concepts, in order to reformulate a message following communication imperatives is not the same thing as assimilating a foreign language or the culture which forms its habitat". Culture and language combining are fundamental for a good translator.