Day 2, Session 4: Translation and the Multi-Lingual Web

At the Saturday meeting of Global Voices Annual Summit 2008, the Global Voices’ Lingua team introduced their work and facilitated a discussion about outreach: Translation and the Multilingual Web.

The idea to make the Global Lingua Section was motivated by GV activists. While they work for GV, a question came out. If you are just talking in your own language, the barrier between yourself and others will be more. If your story is conveyed through other languages, there will be more understanding. The world is talking, but not just in English. Global Voices is a place to connect people who would like to know about other countries and are not able to read English to other worlds. The lingua team members translate English posts into their own languages, so that people have more chances to know about other places. Including 5 lingua sections, other lingua sites just launched include Italian, Marcedoni, and Hindi.

If you see a major post of Global Voices, you can see the other language section under the major title. You click it and you can see the same contents in different languages.

The presenters talk about why it is necessary, what tools they use, and what problems they face.

Chris, the Japanese editor, emphasized how global voices can interact each other and deal with issues together. It is a place where people can find out about other worlds that use other languages. Translation is happening everywhere. It seems that linking bloggers to translators is contradictory because bloggers have their own space, speak about their own issues, and most of them are young, whereas translators are invisible, are regarded as an old habit, and always translate for the audience.

Claire, who does French lingua, characterizes it as an invisible part compared to the main global voice section. The lingua section contains many languages and identities. You’re in communication with other parts. It has multiple functions.

Bangladesh lingua, Rezwan, said that according to statistic, of all the blog posts, 37 percent is in English, 33 percent is in Japanese and Chinese. He shared his experience. For Banglaore language speakers, he translated something on Cherry Blossoms of Japan. He also didn’t know what it was. So he translated it. And a person responded to him to thank him for learning about it. That is, they give a chance to let other people know and understand things they haven’t known before. They translate posts that they think important.

Paola, the Portuguese lingua representative, and Claire talked about useful tools that they have used. Online collaboration helps for the translation. For instance, Lingotek is one that you translate first and it remembers every piece. Next time when you translate, you can use them. You can also share it with others. Claire introduced, which is the give and take system. You translate for others and they also translate for you. If you don’t translate for others, you can’t get the information for yours either. At present, they don’t use a lot of tools. They consider the quality of machine-translation tools. Using automatic Google translation is fine, but it takes more time to correct the problems that the translated version is shown.

What all presenters agreed was they need better strategies to work faster and more accurately, and also wait for other volunteers to participate in.

Ethan commented that the lingua project is a good example how Global Voices can be developed more. It was not an original idea that the Global Voices had. It was from the community. The original idea was to get more attention about other country news in English. But the young project showed where the community would like to go. If the Lingua team finds more professional translation tools, it will be helpful.

Another issue that was mentioned was about loss context. When they translate, they would like to localize for people who don’t have any basic knowledge. For example, they make footnotes or other explanations for better understanding. Of course they always consider the quality and global voices. In addition, for references, they also link to the original post.

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