In addition to his work as a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, Pieter Beens is also an active blogger and a ProZ.com professional trainer. In this guest post, Pieter sheds some light on a few interesting crowdfunding initiatives pertaining to the language industry.
The translation industry is full of innovative technologies and groundbreaking trends, like the logic that CAT tools improve our efficiency and the introduction of translation engines. A new and innovative trend that has emerged outside our industry is the idea of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet “backers” – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations. In the translation industry, innovations have traditionally been backed by investments from outside the industry, e.g. companies developing CAT tools and related software have not traditionally asked translators for funding. With the rise of crowdfunding projects however, an approach between innovators and backers seemed to be developing within the industry. In this blog post I share 5 interesting examples of crowdfunding initiatives taking place in the translation industry.
Slate Desktop™ – Funding a translation engine
The most important and groundbreaking current crowdfunding project for translators is Slate Desktop™. This project is already under development and therefore crowdfunding is not necessarily to gain money, but to get some insight as to the support from industry professionals for this initiative. Slate Desktop™ is a piece of software that uses your own translation memories for machine translation. The software requires big TMs (preferably more than 100,000 segments) to learn your tone and style. Once it analyses the content of the TM, you can connect the software to any major CAT tool and use it to machine translate your texts.
This project was developed by industry professionals and has some major benefits. I wrote an analysis on some advantages and drawbacks of Slate Desktop™ at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/slate-desktop-opportunities-and-threats/. You may also be interested in reading about some of the practical aspects of Slate Desktop™ in Emma Goldsmith‘s blog post, “Slate and big TMs: the perfect combination?“.
The campaign currently needs only 10% in 10 days, so hurry up and join the forces. People who back now will receive a 40% discount on the purchase price now and a perpetual 40% discount on future upgrades.
Learning language on the loo
It’s not a secret that we need to have a shorter or longer break every now and then. Visiting a toilet is a great idea to get some rest and do some necessary things. People who cannot miss an email can take their tablets with them, but if you want to learn a second language the project “Language and educational books on tissue paper” can be helpful. The people behind this project are looking for funds to produce toilet paper with educational books and languages. Great if you want to unite the useful and the pleasant. The project still needs some backers: it has currently only raised 55 USD from the total 90k they need.
Crowdfunding game and book translations
When you search Kickstarter or Indiegogo for translation projects, you can find a multitude of book translation projects. People either don’t know where to get their books translated or simply want to know whether there is a market for their favorite book in their native language. That principle applies to game localization as well. Square Enix, a Japanese developer of computer games, is looking at opportunities to make fans of the games funders for localization projects. That’s an interesting development and many fans will certainly back localization projects for their favorite games. One benefit is that developers and book fans will spend the money for a quality translation/localization instead of looking for the cheapest translator or for fans who don’t master a language but who like to be part of the localization team. So crowdfunding this way offers some options for professional translators as well.
Learning a language by playing
Another crowdfunding initiative to teach languages was the project “Learn Spanish OR Japanese by Playing a Game”. This project was funded by 133% and has already been developed. In order to play, users need to scan a playing card with their mobile phone. The smartphone then shows a video with a native speaker saying a certain phrase. If the translation is unclear, users can tap a button to see the information they need. During the game, the players help each other speak Spanish or Japanese, using only phrases in the respective language. They can also use sounds or gestures. After a phrase is learned, it is placed in the middle of the table and made available for a “challenge round”. In this round players challenge each other to independently generate the phrase. The Spanish version is for sale here.
Saving a language
An entirely different type of project is “Help Save the Haida Language”. This is a personal project to save Xaayda Kil, a language that is spoken by a select group of inhabitants of Canada. As the organizer of the crowdfunding campaign puts it: “The language is a Canadian cultural treasure, and it is in danger.” Xaayda Kil is spoken fluently by only a few dozen people, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. The project is meant to get funding for local organizations that are trying to save the language. This initiative may only be relevant for a small group, but it is important from a cultural perspective. The success of the campaign (it was 275% funded) makes it clear that there is even a perspective for endangered languages.
For a list of on-demand training sessions offered by Pieter on ProZ.com, visit: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1273/courses
As always, questions, feedback and suggestions for future posts can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom