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Start an independent subtitling translation best practice sharing platform for TEDxTalks

I've been speaking to a lot of TEDx organizers about the way they are handling subtitles for their videos. It suddenly hit me that it would be great if we had a platform where we could share our experiences and best practices in that regard - everything related to equipping the videos from your TEDx events with subtitles. People who have already done a project like that could share their story, and first-timers could ask for support. We could exchange software and translation tips, and also ask volunteers to work on English transcripts for our talks, or to add a translation in their language. Maybe, one day soon, TEDx talks are going to be integrated into the Open Translation Project, but before that happens, there will be TEDx events happening all around the globe that will need subtitles. Let's take a step ahead and take care of that on our own. What do you think about it? How do you envision this technically (e.g. a discussion board should be enough)? Let's talk about this here. I've also created an editable Google Docs document that we can use to plan out the endeavour, accessible using this link:

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    Jul 30 2011: This is a good idea, but we need to remember one thing - it's not really transcribing we're talking about, it's subtitling in the original language, and apart from the "monolingual translation" issues that I discussed previously, this also requires the skill of knowing which stuttered extra phrase you can omit, and most importantly, the skill of time-setting the subtitles. I am not sure that this is a linguistic skill. See section 3 in "Subtitling Standards - A Proposal" at

    I think it is important to bear this skill in mind while looking for people who can work on the original subtitles. As with translation and reviewing, giving them a short "test" (especially one that they could go back to and improve after receiving feedback) would probably be the best way of ensuring quality. There are so many TEDx talks that it may be very hard to assure quality if no such screening takes place before volunteers are allowed to work on the talks.
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    Jul 30 2011: I think it's necessary to test the volunteers skills in the language they will be transcribing, before they start working on transcriptions. Also, in my experience, transcribing talks in English given by non-native speakers also involves a degree of "monolingual translation," i.e. fixing the results of language interference. For example, we had one speaker talking about higher education who used the term "high schools" instead of "universities/institutions of higher education." In the transcript, or English subtitles, this was fixed and the correct term was used, in order to avoid confusing the speaker's intended meaning. This may suggest that in cases where there is a speaker using a language that is not their first language, either the transcriber or the person who reviews the transcript should also speak the speaker's first language and be able to spot such interference (this is a separate skill).
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    Jul 30 2011: Don’t you think, it could be worth starting a campaign of the benefits of being English transcriber and translator bei TED?. As for the Spanish language, because it is one of the most extended language worldwide, there are more than 900 volunteers who have less work they’d wish. They could assume the transcription of talks. We could organize this work adding the possibility of searching Talks by “Available for transcription” close to “Available for translation” or “Available for reviewing”. I can imagine that it could be possible for example, through TED-ED, encouraging English teachers all over the world to transcription task as part of possible teaching content. That could be a possibility, but also but also, I can imagine that we could find good people with cultural and linguistic background, if we just ask in the TED community using the conversations facility. And of course, we have to find an agile way to test on line the skills required for being not only TED transcriber, but also TED translator.
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    Jul 29 2011: I agree with you Krystian. The popularity of TED & Co. is growing very fast, also is growing the diversity of language used by speakers in TEDx. Subtitling all this stuff is the proof of the awareness of language diversity in a global community with their own specificities.
    I think language coordinators or language leads (whatever term you may prefer) should also coordinate this part. If the technical implementation for OTP will be a centralized translation interface for TED and TEDx, as Jenny pointed out, that is the moment of supporting the conceptual part which involves not only what you already had proposed , also information architecture / organization, promoting the use of local languages in TEDx, and so on.
    In this sense, do you think necessary to ask volunteers to work on English transcripts for TEDx talks
    I am sure, that many people would be happy of being volunteers of TED community, that means, people who love to transcribe a talk in an original language, and also translators who love to translate that talk into their own language, not necessary into English first. -The language pairs can be numerous.
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    Jul 17 2011: You raised some interesting points. I personally feel this would not be very difficult to oragnize, maybe a little difficult to set up. I envision finding volunteers to physically help out with English transcript as a secondary or tertiary use of the platform. I strongly believe that it's important to have a means of sharing best practice and seeking support for TEDx organizers (and the translators who are collaborating with them) who are not sure how to go about adding subtitles to their talks. ifficult to set up. I envision finding volunteers to physically help out with English transcript as a secondary or tertiary use of the platform. I strongly believe that it's important to have a means of sharing best practice and seeking support for TEDx organizers (and the translators who are collaborating with them) who are not sure how to go about adding subtitles to their talks.
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    Jul 16 2011: That is very interesting idea. But I'm afraid it would be much more difficult to organize then OTP. Here we all translate into our mother tongue. In the project you want to organize we would have to first translate the talks into English, as the TEDx events are quite often held in national language. So I think we would need also native, or at least near-native English speaking people to do the reviews.
    As for the questions you've pointed out at google docs I don't think a free hosting service would suffice for that kind of project. I think we should rather talk with TED - maybe they could provide us with web space. Anyway I don't think this project could work without their support.
    Who can contribute? That topic has been discussed over and over regarding OTP with no actual conclusions. I think everyone agrees that there should be some kind of verification of the contributors. So in my opinion the people that would like to join should be OTP translators first, or provide the organizer with some example of their work.
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    Jul 13 2011: Hello Krystian,

    Good initiative!
    In order to attract more attention to this conversation, you might consider replacing "OTP" with "translation" in your question, since not everyone is familiar with the abbreviation.

    All the best,

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    Jul 12 2011: I would suggest lending your ear to those who subtitle anime, and see what techniques they use. They've been been doing it for over a decade now, so they probably know a good amount about what works and what doesn't, and what colors are useful if you need to see the text with a bright or unusual background (such as when the talk focuses on a specific slide that makes normal text color hard to read) as well as how to adjust timing with visual and between lines, appropriate delays, and even at times how they display cultural references in a quick manner.

    **independent groups tend to work on a budget of $0, and are doing it because they want to provide the service. They do a much better as well as more meticulous job with their subtitles. I would suggest trying to find them before going to a professional organization, because the quality strangely tends to die off when they're being paid for it rather than volunteering. i haven't been following these groups closely as of late, but a simple torrent search should come up with a few useful answers for groups to check into. The only one i know of right now is static subs (