Global translations, via the Net, for non-profits... for free

By APCNews GOA, India, 18 October 2005

In the global village, you can still find roadblocks placed by language to be almost invincible. To battle the linguistic divide and foster understanding, a new initiative called Translations for Progress has come up with an unusual way out.

Based in cyberspace, and working with volunteers, this project is "an on-line database that links language students interested in volunteering with overseas NGOs that don’t have the budget to accommodate professional translators."

Brendan Luecke of recently introduced the project saying, "This free service aims to

increase communication within the international grass-roots movement and help today’s students become active in development issues early on."

This new project, launched just weeks ago, says it has got a positive response so far. "However, we have encountered some difficulties promoting the site in the very diffuse global NGO community," Brendan conceded.

Translations for Progress says its web site was created to "assist NGOs in need of translation work, but without the budget to pay for it". It was also intended to help serve students or professionals of foreign languages who are interested in building experience as translators, developing familiarity with organizations in their region of interest, and contributing to a good cause.

Volunteer translators are linked with organizations by means of a searchable online database.

"By linking the needs of these two groups, Translations for Progress aims to support the development of better

communication within the international grass-roots community, improving the ability of organizations to meet their goals, and to help today’s students become more actively involved in social issues early on," said the group.

It argues that the need for translations — even of less than professional quality — cannot be overstated for many NGOs (non-government organisation) in the so-called ‘developing’ and even developed nations.

"Often chronically short of funds, such organizations need translations to work with the press internationally, seek

funding from overseas foundations, identify partners in foreign countries, and inform the world community about their work," said the group.

Frequently, Translations for Progress argued, having something as simple as an English website can greatly

increase the scope of an organization’s influence and its ability to disseminate information, allowing it to more

effectively address the problems it seeks to solve.

Translations for Progress said it is initiallytargeting language students in the United States. Eventually, the

website has the capability to include students of many languages in many nations.

"While students are certainly not professional translators, more often than not anyone with solid reading knowledge, a dictionary, and patience can put together a passable translation of general materials, which could make a big difference for an NGO struggling to be heard. Moreover, a slightly flawed translation is certainly preferable to none at all for many organizations with no alternatives," argued the initiative.

It called on organisations who could benefit, or students (and professionals) interested in volunteering, to sign-up at

This is a public service and is free of charge, but users need to register and list a profile on the site, so as to

contact translators and organizations through the database.

"Please feel free and use this service frequently and extensively. As the number of organizations increases more translators will be attracted by the increased opportunities, and vice-versa. If you know others who would be interested in this site, please forward them this e-mail," said the group.


Organizations wishing to use Translations for Progress must first register with the website.

Translations are posted within their profile and are listed as "translation tasks" in the database. What’s needed is a short (up to 15,000 characters) description of the translation(s), along with a small excerpt and information

about when you need to have the work completed.

Non-profits profiles are then posted in an online database, searchable by language and accessible to the public.

Similarly, an online database of translator profiles exists.

It is up to non-profits and the translator to find each other, and contact the translators via email.

Cautions the project: "Many of our volunteers are students; don’t expect them to perform like professional translators (though there certainly are some exceptions). We have put together some guidelines that to keep in mind as you work with volunteers through this site."

There are no formal restrictions on the types of organizations (i.e. registered or unregistered NGOs,

individuals, or groups) that may use the site. But all translations sought should be of direct benefit to society;

they should not be used for commercial purposes.

To encourage professionalism among volunteer translators, organizations are asked to rate translators after they have worked with them. Feedback and constructive comments are encouraged. But those seeking services are reminded to "please be patient and bear in mind that you are working with volunteers in a cross-cultural environment".

They add: "Please be kind! We’re all trying hard!"

One useful feature here is a list of "useful NGO and language links". The latter includes links to translators and

linguists of Uzbekistan (UzTranslations), The National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the American Translators Association and an Czech-English Translator Forum.

And if you wanted more resources, there are links to online dictionaries, Russian links, and a range of similar


Author: —- (APCNews)
Source: APCNews
Date: 10/18/2005
Location: GOA, India
Category: Information Exchange