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Global Watchtower
Common Sense Advisory Blogs
Using Crowdsourced Translation to Create a Multilingual Newsroom
Posted by Rebecca Ray, Nataly Kelly on January 13, 2012  in the following blogs: Translation and Localization, Web Globalization
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As the online digital divide becomes smaller and smaller, language still remains one of the last true barriers to consuming content anywhere, anytime. The Global Voices Lingua Project has found a way to overcome this barrier, and at the same time, build a multilingual newsroom. We interviewed Paula Góes, Multilingual Editor at Global Voices, to find out more.

Global Voices is dedicated to spreading the message from all types of citizen media (blogs, podcasts, videos, photos, and so on) from all over the world, with an emphasis on perspectives that generally do not appear in mainstream media sources. Because that content is created in many languages, the organization relies on a crowdsourced project called Lingua. It all started back in 2005 with a Taiwanese blogger named Portnoy Zheng, who supported the Global Voices cause and decided to start translating its English content into Traditional Chinese.

The Lingua Project has now evolved into a global network of 500 active volunteers - including translators, editors, revisers, and trainers - who translate into 33 languages from English, and from English into nine languages. The project doesn't only include the mega-languages of the world, but ones like Aymara, Bangla, and Malagasy as well.

According to Góes, each language community manages itself. She explained, "Translations depend entirely on volunteers, and decisionmaking remains with the communities. Translators usually choose whatever they want to translate, on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that Global Voices itself does not have the final say over what gets published in a given language. That's because we trust the communities to know which stories are more relevant and important for their local audiences."

The following table provides an idea of the average output from January to August 2011 by number of posts for the top 10 languages (posts can be anywhere from 50 to 1,000 words):

Language

Daily

Average

Monthly

Average

Total January through August 2011

Spanish

12.20

366.25

2,930

French

8.24

247.25

1,978

Malagasy

3.65

109.50

875

Chinese

2.65

79.50

636

Greek

3.48

105.00

628

Portuguese

2.50

74.00

595

Italian

2.50

72.50

580

Macedonian

1.35

40.50

324

Arabic

1.20

38.00

299

Russian

1.30

34.00

271

All Languages

42.5

1,275

10,196

English into

Other Languages

26

785

6,285


We were curious to know the story behind Global Voices in Aymara, an indigenous language that is an official language in both Bolivia and Peru. It is spoken by more than two million people across the Andes in the Altiplano regions of Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. As Góes described, "The core members are from the Jaqi Aru Community, a dynamic group of university students and young adults who are very interested in maintaining their native language and committed to promoting it online. They chose Global Voices in Aymara starting in September 2009 as their first initiative to make this happen. They translate from Spanish and English into Aymara. What's amazing is that they do this without any home internet access - they post all content from cyber-cafes in the city of El Alto in Bolivia."


The 12 core members of Global Voices in Aymara
Source: http://globalvoicesonline.org/


When we asked Góes what's on the horizon for the Lingua Project, she shared that it has begun to evolve into a multilingual newsroom, with original posts created in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian, Italian, Swahili, Greek, and Bangla. Spanish content is now being translated straight into Serbian, French into Malagasy, and Arabic into French. Góes remarked, "The experiment allows us to provide breaking news more quickly in the language where it matters most - the countries where the news is happening. It also offers an opportunity for people who don't write in English to be involved in the project. Best of all, it is strengthening the ties between our newsroom and our translation communities."

The Lingua Project is further evidence that crowdsourced translation continues to be adopted and adapted for use by many different types of organizations. Both buyers and providers of language services should take note of the amount of communication taking place in less common languages since they are gaining in significance as organizations increasingly venture beyond their standard 10 or 15 languages. It behooves technology developers as well to pay attention to what is going on with these initiatives since they can learn what is required to integrate languages of lesser demand into their product roadmaps.

 

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Keywords: Crowdsourced translation, Ethnic / domestic multicultural markets, Global websites, High-demand and low-demand languages, Language learning and education, Language policy, Localization, Translation, Web globalization

  
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