You may have noticed that a few years ago Facebook created a translation app to crowd source translations. The basic concept works like this:
Step One – Translate the Glossary with all the core terms, people vote translations up or down to determine which ones stick.
Step Two – Translate all of Facebook into the other language, with people voting up or down the best translations.
Step Three: Review everything, with people voting to confirm it’s actually working and accurate.
Facebook provides all the tools that the crowd needs to help translate such as a style guide and a discussion board to talk about the nuances of the translation.
Thanks the Translation App, Facebook is now in all kinds of languages – even some relatively new ones…like Leet Speak.
Now, here’s the question. Why couldn’t other governments do the same thing? I’ve ranted before about some of the challenges facing government when it comes to languages other than English. While it’s nice to have a translator for in the office, trying to translate a whole website into another language can be a time-consuming and expensive project.
But there are real advantages to crowd sourcing. Can you speak Ethiopian? Neither can I, but there are hundreds of people in my service area that do. It would be a great community service project to try and get as many languages as we could get. It would be even better if we could share glossaries between different cities and agencies so that as one city progresses in it’s translations (say, Chicago in Polish) – other cities (like Dallas) could benefit as well.
There are some things that we would still need experts (teachers or lawyers) to take a look at – such as what the law says. However, couldn’t we crowd source some of our translations needs using an App like this? (Assuming somebody could replicate it – or knows somebody who knows Mark Zuckerburg)
If your agency were handed the technology would you feel comfortable crowd sourcing your translations?