EN What is Transtrad? Translator to translator. Tools and tips for translation. Questions, problems, mutual help. ES ¿Qué es Transtrad? Entre traductor@s. Herramientas y consejos para traducciones. Preguntas, problemas, ayuda. FR Qu'est-ce que Transtrad ? Traducteurs-trices à Traducteurs-trices. Outils et conseils pour la traduction. Questions, problèmes, aide mutuelle.


Postby transtrad-coordi » Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:30 am


You are registered in Transtrad since the ESF 2004 (or you are a newcomer), and unless you have been asked for translations since then, you wonder what on earth has happened to the Babels’ translators network. The fact is that only translators with source and target languages corresponding to the needs of the projects under way have been contacted (in order not to disturb you for no reason), and so maybe you felt that nothing was happening or that you were not included anymore…
Don’t worry, Transtrad goes on its merry way, together with all of you, and from now on you will receive periodically a newsletter like this one, just to keep you informed about the projects going on and about Transtrad’s advances - so that you feel invited to take part even more if you feel like it.
This newsletter will be edited each time by a different coordinator – preferably in different languages. For this time we have confined ourselves to French and English, but this is only for practical reasons, and we hope that most of you will be able to understand it. However, as one of Babels’ purpose is to promote language diversity, we are hoping for more linguistically « coloured » future editions!
Let’s also remind you that you can follow and TAKE PART in the ongoing debates and discussions on Transtrad-Discuss forum on the Babels website (viewforum.php?f=10). You may also exchange tips and ask about translation technical problems on Transtrad-Tech forum (viewforum.php?f=9).
So we hope you to see that Transtrad is more than an anonymous database – a network of real live persons in which everyone is involved.
Thanks for reading ( …and sorry that’s a bit long – it is the first one and we felt that we should make some things clear – print it and don’t hesitate to read quickly through subjects you are not really interested in – but why should you ;-)…)



* Brief history:
Transtrad is a network of translators that works autonomously within the Babels network – an international network of volunteer interpreters and translators that was created alongside the social forums, from Florence (2002 ESF) to Mumbai (2004 WSF), including the 2003 ESF in Paris or antiglobalization meetings like the one that took place last summer in the Larzac (France). Transtrad was created during summer 2003 along with the preparation of the 2003 ESF, in order to translate preparatory documents to the organization of the forum. And for the first time, a physical group of translators (about 30) were on the place of the forum (Paris-La Villette site), ready to work in the heat of the moment… even though they eventually didn’t get any document to translate because the organizing committee didn’t send any during the forum, and that’s how translators ended in the boots next to interpreters!
But this experience must not be seen as a failure, for it allowed to think more about the specific role of Babels translators within the process of the social forums – preparation before the forum, day-to-day participation when the event is actually going on and restitution work afterwards.

* How does Transtrad work?
Transtrad leads its own, autonomous way within the global Babels network. We take decisions for ourselves and participate to collective decisions as a specific group, whether these decisions concern an event or another kind of project. We are now writing a document supposed to work as a framework to our participation, i.e. to define the scope of our interventions. The draft will be put on the electronic forum (Transtrad-Discuss) to be discussed, on the forum and in real-life meetings.
As for carrying out the actual translation projects, the work is shared between translators and coordinators:
- translators register in the Transtrad database, respond (or not) to the translation proposals that are sent by … and translate (!). THEY are the basis of the network and its reason for existing. Now, a little more than 1700 translators have been registered.
- coordinators coordinate (!!) the various projects, that is they organize the process: keeping contact with the external organizations that may ask us for translations, sharing documents between translators, following the translation work under way and every stage till the handing out of the completed project. Transtrad started with 2 coordinators (Laurent and Andrea), who have just been joined by 3 newcomers in Paris (Juliette, Karine and Jean-Marie) and soon, we hope, by those who showed interest during the preparatory meeting for London ESF.

* Get involved!
You are invited to take part in Transtrad either as a translator or as a coordinator, depending on what you feel like, what you are interested in and how much time you can give. This is not about splitting between mere workers and decision-makers, but it is just about role playing. Of course taking part as a coordinator somehow demands a stronger commitment as far as time, concern, computer and web access, etc. But it does not mean in any way that translators are excluded from decision-making concerning our network.

- Participate as a translator:
Just register at precising your source and target languages as well as your level (beginner, experienced, professional), and you will then be e-mailed by Transtrad when your language couples match the demands of one project. Then if you answer positively, you will be sent the document(s) to translate. Be quick, for in most cases documents are assigned to the first translator to answer – till we find a better way… In some cases, professional and/or experienced translators may be requested to proofread translated documents. If you receive nothing, never, this is probably that your languages don’t match the demands (eg. if you translate Chinese to Russian) – sorry for that, but we keep hoping to involve most of you by carrying through projects in more various languages.
As a translator, you are also invited to discuss and make decisions together, either by means of the on-line forum or better, by taking part to the real life meetings that have just started to get organized in different places (see part 4-Transtrad meetings).

- Take part as a coordinator:
If you wish to commit yourself further and you have a good internet connection, join in the coordinating team! You will be in charge of leading the projects from start to end, i.e. from defining the work till the handing out and publication on the Transtrad website-to-be. The team also keeps in touch with the translators, whether it is by editing the next newsletters, creating the new website to publish all the translations already done, organizing meetings in your city or answering individual questions on the forum or by e-mail (please, for general questions, use the forum, because we just can’t answer all the e-mails all the time – we receive dozens of them every day!).



* What is Transtrad working on at the moment?

(1) MEMORY OF ESF 2003 (coordinator: Andrea, Transtrad-Roma)
It consists in the translation of the syntheses of plenary assemblies and seminars that have been gathered by the ESF restitution team (Françoise Fugas and Manola Rauss) and published on-line at The priority was to translate them in English and Spanish. Restitution texts and translations are published as the work goes on. Now there are about 150 texts on line and more than 40 % has been translated – at least in English.
Andrea made a call to all concerned translators asking if they wanted to participate as a translator or as a proofreader, and appealed to good wills to coordinate their language group. The coordinator for English is now Patrick Mpondo-Dicka and for Spanish we had first Noemi Valencia and now Andrea. The work has been shared between about 50 translators and 15 proofreaders, as far as possible according to the preferences indicated in the answers.
Broadly speaking, the project has got on well, and now we should accelerate a bit to finish before the end of April. For this we need new volunteers to share coordination work!!!

(2) "EMPTY PROMISES – The IMF, the World Bank, and the Planned Failures of Global Capitalism" by 50 Years Is Enough (coordinator: Andrea, Transtrad-Roma)
This is a booklet to be published by the “50 Years Is Enough US Network for Global Economic Justice” in order to be distributed on the 60th anniversary of the World Bank and IMF next 22nd to 26th of April. It consists in about 30 thematic papers (IMF Failures, Structural Adjustments, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS], Water Privatization, Microcredit, etc). More than 60 of you took on translating and proofreading it into French and Spanish, and the project is about to be finished (end of March). We were also asked for a translation into Portuguese, and this is on the way despite the small number of Portuguese translators…

(3) WSF 2004 – DOCUMENTS FOR THE WEBSITE (coordinator: Laurent, Transtrad-Paris)
The latest of our ongoing projects, aiming to translate some restitution papers of the Mumbaï World Social Forum on their website. This year we have collaborated more closely with the WSF taking part actively in some of the work groups organized by the international council. We worked particularly on the “Content-Contenu-Contenido" part. We also advocated a greater language diversity on their website, which the webmasters told us will happen quite soon. We have also suggested to help exchanges and decision-making by making more systematic and less conditional the work around preparatory texts, which could result in including organizations of more different linguistic origins. And we still should be more involved in the process for the 2005 edition of the WSF back in Porto Alegre.

* Projects in the pipeline…

- Translating preparatory documents to the Mediterranean Social Forum (FSMed) (coordinator: Juliette, Transtrad-Paris)

- Translating minutes of preparatory meetings to London ESF (2004) (coordinator wanted!)

- Building an internal Transtrad project that would consist in editing multilingual thematic booklets – each one about one specific theme (eg. Labour and Globalization, Women and Globalization, etc.) that would be made of texts that we, as antiglobalization militants think are fundamental. There the militant will join the translator – a real perspective for Babels! A first start will be soon proposed by Jean-Marie (Transtrad-Paris)…

* And also… (around translation)

- A new website just for Transtrad, to publish all the translations already made and to come – so that you will learn at last what happened to your translations or what terrible fate they met in the proofreader’s hands!
If some of you know well SPIP language and are wishing to help, please tell us! We really need you to create or whatever...

- Writing a paper to define the political scope of Transtrad’s participation to external organizations projects.

- Editing a regular newsletter like this one to inform Transtrad members about projects and development.

- Looking for funds… (?)


4. TRANSTRAD MEETINGS (by Laurent, Transtrad-Paris)

Electronic mailing lists, databases, on-line forums… this is great, you think, but you feel tired of being computers all day and you would like to see faces behind e-mail addresses. Well, meet physically! We have done it in Paris… it is cool. We have found a café called Babel-Café, would you believe that? We have ordered a bottle of wine and start discussing… and we’ll do it again soon! (the minute of the meeting is available on the forum viewtopic.php?t=101 - sorry, in French only…)
Our dream? To have one meeting a month in several cities, where you are! To share agendas. To discuss. Then to share our proposals to make it a common decision.
How to? It is not easy maybe because it was never done, maybe because no one ever has tried really to share decisions being delocalized. The forum can help us being localized at one point. And it will be our central tool to share. Before this, just send us for next month a proposal if you want, we will distribute it as soon as possible to all of you. Please, write

City – Country
Date – Time
Contact e-mail

For instance, we have set the next meeting in Paris:
Paris – France
Babel Café, 109 Bd de Ménilmontant, 20e (M° Ménilmontant)
Monday, March 29th - 19h15

To discuss what? Well we will try to mix our agenda and discuss at least one common issue. The result of all the discussions will be then shared by a person volunteering for each meeting. This report will be e-mailed to you all. All the other questions you have discussed will be published independently in the Forum meeting by meeting, like this each one can speak about and decide what he needs. From there we will see how to improve Transtrad functioning together! We have no real plan, just the feeling we can try and see where it leads to.
An example: not to put the pressure on you, but next ESF will take place in London (and the one after in Greece), next WSF in Porto Alegre and the 1st Mediterranean Social Forum (FSMed) in Barcelona. We are working on these projects through e-mail with organizing committees in these 3 cities. But wouldn’t it be better to have some of you more organized in these cities in order to actually meet and participate more physically with these “e-mail” collaborators? It could be easier and it could develop better our concerns for language diversity.



Babels is not only a supply of translators and interpreters, and Babels translators not only translate. There are also groups working on “technical support” and training for interpreters, Nomad technology, making glossaries, etc. We would like to draw your attention on the Lexicon team [BABELS-VOC]. If you are a regular user of, you have probably noticed the multilingual glossaries provided for the last ESF and WSF ( They have been made in emergency to be used as reminders for interpreters during the forums and to help them preparing for the various themes of conferences. These glossaries should eventually concern just as well translators, either as users or as lexicon-makers.

* Brief introduction to the Lexicon project (by Stéphanie, Babels-Voc):
We started the project on the mere hypothesis that it wouldn’t be easy at all to get preparatory documents to ESF conferences and debates (eg. written texts of speeches, name of contributors, specific acronyms, etc.) and that one interpreter cannot possibly masters all the sets of themes discussed in antiglobalization meetings nor the jargon generated in those discussions. So we had to help them getting acquainted to this new jargons.
The aim of the game is to gather keywords that are typical for social forums themes. There are about 3 kinds of such keywords: initials and acronyms, technical or juridical vocabulary and key notions and concepts that are systematically used by orators – all of this in every language used in the social forums, of course. Now, i.e. two forums later, we are working on improving our approach of lexicon in the long run. And so we try to handle more themes and complete mere keywords lists with definitions and contexts of keywords and application texts for the global themes – all of this to be published on-line and downloadable.
How do we proceed ?
We work collectively. The members of the team are registered on the mailing list, which is altogether a work space and a public contact e-mail to be given to the organizations interested by our work. We have made a list of themes and shared the work between us: each person is responsible for producing a vocabulary list on one theme in his/her mother language or in the other languages he/she masters. Then we will translate and put the result on-line… and then just download it!
Babels working groups are fairly new, and we just start to forge links between them, according to the development of Babels projects… it is just a start!

BABELS-VOC contact: or on the on-line forum Babels/Glossaries: viewforum.php?f=12
Next meeting in Paris: March 30th (venue to be precised soon on the forum… where you can also find the minute of previous meetings: viewtopic.php?t=53).

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