Make your product “translation worthy” and the world will follow

From my guest post for Gigaom:

When a software company asks me if I think its new product will succeed globally, I typically respond by asking: Is your product translation worthy? In other words, are people eager to voluntary translate your app or website into their language?

This phenomenon is commonly known as “translation crowdsourcing,” and a number of familiar names have relied on the kindness of strangers to take their products and websites global—companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. When a website or software application is so appealing to users around the world that they will help translate it—for free—the odds are quite good that the product will succeed globally.


Listen to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in 53 languages)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into 370 languages

Here’s the full list.

But if you’re less into reading and more into listening, the folks at SoundCloud have recruited volunteers to record the declaration.

Here’s Hungarian:

They’re at roughly 50 languages so far, including, perhaps not surprisingly, Esperanto.

It’s probably just a matter of time before Klingon appears.


The Khan Academy and the kindness of translators

The Khan Academy is out to revolutionize education by providing a free online education through lots and lots of well-produced videos.

A core component of this revolution is the subtitling these 2,700 videos (and counting) into many languages.

To get there, Khan is relying on the kindness of translators.

Currently, Estonian is the leading language, with more than 700 videos dubbed into the language. And you can see above that they’re really just getting started — only 16 languages are currently supported.

I’m not a translator. But if I were, it is nonprofit efforts such as this, Wikipedia and Translators without borders that I would most want to support.

PS: I almost forgot to mention that the engine supporting the subtitles was built by another impressive nonprofit group: Universal Subtitles.