Session 3: Language and Translation

Summary: Even if you have access to the internet and blogging tools one major factor that limits global conversations are language barriers. We shall look at what could be the best way to translate back and forth so that people writing/speaking in one language can be read and heard by speakers of other languages. We’ll look at what has worked so far, what hasn’t, and explore ideas for future action to promote more communication across language groups.

.Session starts of my various GV authors and editors doing a short intro in their own language. Then focus shifts to Asia where a blogger from Taiwan explains that translation in Taiwan doesn’t’ mean that they concentrated very much on local social news. In fact there’s too much emphasis on how blogging conflicts with society. Therefore as a Taiwan blogger we have to step out to the world ourselves. So I follow the bloggers advice and I started to translate the posts from globalvoices. The first post I translated was called “from the Indonesian blogosphere”. It was about durian and at that time a plane was crashed and several important Indonesian officials were on it. The reason it crashed was because it was overloaded with durians. I translated the post and said it was — durian is a smelly but delicious food from that time I was very fascinated about so many of the GV stories.

(IMAGE: Preetam Rai – South East Asia Editor for GV presenting. PHOTO CREDIT: Jace)

I thought, yes I should do more translation for the more and more Chinese readers of the bog. I wanted more readers who only know Chinese to know about these interesting things happening. I started translating every day, after I had translated about 100 posts. I met Rebecca in Taiwan and I had a chat with her, it inspired me to set up an independent website for gv Chinese. I thought it was the best plan for the future. I asked some friend out of my readers to help me translate. I don’t know why they joined me to translate but I think it is because we all the desire to know more and to make friends and on the international news media we don’t’ know the people’s thinking and feeling and their happiness but in GV we do, and I think most of you agree. I would very much like to show you the site of our translation project. I would say there were no guidelines however things that are concerned with Taiwan and china will be translated ASAP. And something emergent like if there’s a disaster we will translate ASAP. Also if there are posts about Middle East because the situation there is very complicated but in Taiwan and the Chinese blogosphere they are seldom mentioned because at gv they are mentioned in the human side.

(IMAGE:PHOTO CREDIT: Neha Vishvanathan) Rebecca MacKinnon.

We thought if there were guidelines there would be less, right now we have ten very active translators and we are looking to get more people involved. One thing is we are perceived as an American site. David is now reading an article criticizing gv as Anglo centrist. That’s something we need to talk about. How to include new voices and not just be an Anglophone website. When I read criticisms like this I think to myself that’s a good point but why not offer to translate it into Spanish. That’s why I like Portnoy because he’s not just complaining; he’s making it available. A slide explaining how gv translates from other langs into english and how it can then be translated into anything

David: in the case of voices Latinos there was a lot of excitement but it ended up not happening * slide of gv Chinese version. What happened is that we saw there was more interest in the region it self in Spanish but the other content isn’t getting out there so I want to discuss what are the ways translation can happen, how can we get volunteers to translate. Do we have to ask bloggers for permission to translate? Do we want to let readers translate comments? Do we want people from different places to talk to each other ON global voices? Do we want to translate them into english so there’s a common language that can be used to translate back and forth, one way is to offer a translation form on the website to let readers actively do it themselves. Each translator has a different style, is there a certain style that works better? How do we encourage sites like gv Chinese and voices Latinos?

(IMAGE: Ethan Zuckerman PHOTO CREDIT: Georgia)

Alice Backer: I was conversing someone in Tahiti and I wanted to post a picture and they said no but I know we have a right to link to anything, maybe it gets murkier in terms of translating it but we always attribute it and say who it was and link to it but I write that this person had said something and they claimed that we had used their work to make money.

Most people are happy and are glad that we spread their message

David: we’re going to keep passing the mics around; I want to hear how we can make gv more multilingual. I wanted to add one more thing, when you translate there is always core values and ethics you respect. Once I found Iranians who were nasty, they made propaganda against the UN and racism, etc. and we didn’t’ cover them because of our core values, but what are the relations between translation and core values and censorship?

David: I think we might want to leave the meat of that to tomorrow, what do we publish, what’s interesting or whets talked about, how do we decide what gets translated and what doesn’t. Sometimes I have a hard time knowing what to publish and I would like to have hints about than (delicious stream)

Speaker: why do you want to choose what to translate, why can’t I choose what to translate? Can’t the translations be ranked by other visitors?

Boris: the answer is a technical limitation; I can’t just turn that on. About motivation. We have to identify the value of translating, we have to find those values and appeal to them

Coming to the point of linking being legal or not there are cases where people are putting l inks to news without permission, there may be a penalty created for translation if content is duplicated.



Jackie: I’m involved in a few translation groups in china the best way I found to let people translate is to set up a discussion group and let people discuss their idea before posing their translation, we need active people to commit to certain numbers of articles and to reach out to her people. You need traffic to motivate people to translate, they want traffic to feel their voice is amplified, the topic can also grow your traffic, in china people want to talk about technology if you can generate traffic you will also attract new translators.

David asks Rezwan whether translation is time-consuming, how do you manage that?

Rezwan: been linking mainly english-speaking blogs, English speaking bangla and south Asian blogs. We need to contemplate on what should be our way the translation post can be like a summary. I read many Chinese blogs from GV for example which otherwise I wouldn’t read, But it should be a summary, all above – rezwan’s comments. It’s got to be more than linking straight to the story.

David: Can everyone think of how each of us can build bridge between our Lang and GV 2 recommendations — 1. star/ranking system 2. using professional translators

2 practical solutions – — don’t know who this is …. he is using univ students to translate … as a semester project work … laughter … because he says those who do it will have a better time at finals, they will hence get something they are interested in 2nd recommendation, he is using english teachers in the university for this he is from Hungary, how do I decide what to translate. I just think if it’s interesting for someone in Hungary .. it should be interesting to others, just pick stories based on how popular they are. He uses delicious, tags like please write more about this issue, that’s useful feedback to translators.

Kamla Bhatt: Its about incentives, one of the things, Amazon rewards for every 10 posts…. Amazon rewards. Missed the next comment but Shivam Vij asks, what are your thoughts about using google translator?.

David: It is machine work it is frustrating, it has its limitations.

David: 2 concrete things 1. amazon rewards …2. Blackmailing students 🙂

Neha: .. on machine translations, the most important contribution is to conceptualizes the conversation or blog post, machines wont do that. There is a threshold now in blogosphere as soon as you reach the threshold, they turn inwards and aren’t really interested in translations.


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