Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More on Collective Translation

A follow-on from my 7 July posting.

Non-professional collective translation goes by several names. One is ‘community translation’. In China there’s a network called Yeeyan with 5,000 self-styled community translators that claims to have translated nearly 30,000 articles from Western publications like Time, The Economist and The Guardian. And there are others in China.

Yeeyan has its ‘star translators’. There is one who “hates bad translation and named his website ‘Transnator’, which means ‘bad translation terminator’ [but] There are many others. Yeeyan's community is pretty like a galaxy with hundreds and thousands of stars, and each star shines no matter how brilliant it is.”

Given the nature of the texts, Yeeyan’s translators have to be fairly advanced native translators.

Another kind of organisation sponsoring collective translation is LinkedIn, which is a business-oriented social networking website. It recently came into conflict with the president and membership of the American Translators’ Association (ATA), which is composed, of course, of professional translators. The president of ATA exclaimed, “It’s astonishing that [LinkedIn], whose very existence is predicated on fostering professionalism, would compromise its own professionalism by approaching its members, hat in hand, seeking donations for a for-profit entity."

LinkedIn conducted its own survey of potential contributors. The survey included a multiple-choice question: "What type of incentive would you expect for translating LinkedIn’s site?" The choices ranged from "I would want to do this because it's fun" through "Highlight your … work [as] the #1 translator … in [language name]", to "Upgraded LinkedIn accounts." There was also a final option, "other", where the respondent could enter whatever they wanted (such as "money"). So it would seem that LinkedIn envisaged attracting both professional and non-professional translators. We don’t know the results.

Looked at in a broader perspective, collective translation networks provide a focused type of ‘user generated content’ (UGC). Some of it can also be described as ‘crowdsourcing’, which, to quote Wikipedia, is " a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call." It is also known as CT3. The article reporting the LinkedIn-ATA spat (http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=7392B844-1A64-6A71-CE757D75583BFCA1) concludes as follows:

As was pointed out on the Global Watchtower blog: "Our research shows that the companies that engage in CT3 [community, crowdsourced and collaborative translation] do actually care about translators and view them as professionals … CT3 is usually reserved for the short phrases that are highly unique to a given community - and are usually an important part of its online flavor and culture."


  1. There is free collobarive translation online tool/service: http://translated.by/

  2. Dear ruguevara,

    Can't find your email address, but thank you for this link.


  3. I also use a collective translation tool that is free up to a limi: https://poeditor.com/. From my experience until now, this is one of the best tools, as it is really easy to use and it has lots of helpful features.

  4. Thank you for this information. I'll take a look at it.