Meet Shlomo Adam, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Matthew Trost

shlomo3.jpgSince the TED Open Translation Project launched in May of 2009, more than 1,200 translators have joined the effort to make TEDTalks available in non-English languages. One of the very first translators to join the project was Shlomo Adam. Shlomo joined the project before it went public, and contributed both translations and feedback on the system as we built it. He has now translated more than 50 talks into Hebrew.

In the next weeks, the TED Blog will shine the spotlight on more TED translators — offering a glimpse of the people whose efforts continue to enrich the project. We’re proud to make Shlomo our first.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 55. I was born in Israel. I’ve gone through all kinds of phases in my life. Now live in Kibbutz Mishmar Ha-Emek in Jezrael valley, half an hour’s drive away from Nazareth, five minutes’ drive away from Megiddo. Not that this means anything.

I’ve had the questionable privilege of having learned many practices, including four years of how to be a professional soldier — but that was many years ago when I was young and stupid. (Now I’m merely older.) Eventually it turned out that the things I’m most interested in are:

  • The Alexander Technique, which I teach
  • People of all kinds and realms
  • The way the mind works
  • Evolution, genes, memes, etc.
  • Learning

All that plus many more areas of interest.

What drew you to TED?

A dear friend had sent us one of the TEDTalks — the amazing talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, “My stroke of insight.” I felt I had to put Hebrew subtitles on that talk and somehow place it on the web. After preparing it I asked whether anyone at TED would be interested in it. It so happened that TED was just starting the Open Translation Project. That’s how I got to TED.

Why do you translate?

I’ve been translating ever since I started reading English books, simply because I wanted to understand what I was reading and because I love to learn. So, if anyone else can enjoy something I do for myself, why not share it, pretty much the way TED shares their talks?

What are your favorite translations?


Comments (6)

  • Shlomo Adam commented on Mar 23 2011

    from an answer to certain question(s):
    habits: should be treated with great respect, because they are very deeply ingrained in every one of us. We acquire them very early in life and as the years accumulate, so do the habits get more and more established into patterns and automatic responses, which has a good purpose: not to re-think from the beginning each step we take, and be able to manage our life and flow with it. The problems arise when these habits, which by their very nature are basically not “here and now”, become too much not “here and now”, to a degree where our behaviour completely misses the point of a given situation.
    There is no way to fight habits, nor did FM suggest that we should. IMHO, recognizing the power of habits, as McDonald put it, means that we shouldn’t try to eradicate them but acknowledging them, stopping (inhibiting) and making a conscious decision as to what is appropriate. The very act of stopping disconnects the link between any stimulus and it’s conditioned response, and it’s the only way, according to the AT, by which we are able to think out and create a new, more “here and now” response. It is not always very easy to do, but the trick is to forgive ourselves when we can’t seem to “succeed” in doing it 100% of the day, and simply stay on this path. I sometimes see it as the developing of a certain way of life, parallel to the life of habits, which in time will take over.
    ADD: the AT is very good for people who cannot “concentrate”, as it is perceived in the western world, because the AT insists that we don’t concentrate! The popular meaning of concentration, as we grow to understand and accept it from kindergarten up, is to erase from our scope of attention everything but the object we should keep our interest on. This stand in complete contrast to the structure of the human brain with its inherent ability for multi-tasking. Being tamed like this from early age, no wonder so many people are diagnosed as ADD and the like, becausethe sad truth is that it’s their healthy system struggling to survive! FM very clearly stated that a correct concentration is seeing an object on the background of all other existing objects, while maintaining the ability to easily shift the attention to something else. A correct concentration is therefor the very opposite of a rigid focus, but rather like holding a feather in an open palm. So I think an ADD person could pose a “challenge” because maybe we can learn form him more than the other way around!
    You said “…lack of being able to hel him”. Whether you meant “help” or “heal”, you as a teacher are not supposed to do either. If in a course of a lesson find out then I’m frustrated or getting tired, I see it as a sign of Doing: too much trying, tto much doing the work the pupil is supposed to do. In this case I “step aside” mentally, keep to inhibiting myself while giving my directions, giving the directions to the pupil while adhering to the technique the best I can, and watching to see what will happen, that’s all. There is nothing more I can or should do! We’re no doctors, this is no therapy and the person we work with is supposed to contribute as much as we do. If this does not occur, than it is not an AT session but something else. We don’t treat a problem but teach a person to use themselves in a way that might solve their problems.
    Transference / countertransference: this is I believe a term from psychology. Are you a trained one? I’m not, so I cannot even attempt to say something on the matter. On the other hand, teaching / learning the AT is so much deep and profound that I don’t feel any need to use yet another discipline in a lesson.

  • Shlomo Adam commented on Mar 20 2011

    My thoughts on AT: they r evolving constantly, but basically i c it s “the mother of all techniques” s some1 put it long time ago. Another way i refer 2 it is s the most eastern method of self-improving in the west. Feldenkreiz & other western methods – including 4 example yoga,s it it being widely taught – & even AT, s some teachers tend 2 teach it in order 2 b fashionable or just make it easy 4 them & their students – are fine but they r more in the direction of exercises. Exercises r fine but they simply make use of existing habits while intensifying them. This opposes the very idea of AT s a way of finding out what the old habits r, stopping utilizing the unnecessary 1s & taking a more aware path of self-use.
    Eager 2 hear what u hav 2 say on the matter

  • Joshua Myrvaagnes commented on Apr 24 2010

    You seem interesting–you’re Israeli and teach AT rather than Feldenkrais, I’d like to know your thoughts on AT. Can you please email me at Joshua at inspiringwebcopy dot com. Thanks.

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Dec 23 2009

    Thanks for your contributions…I’ve read this interview and that’s a real clue to how the interview will look like.

  • Adam Estiago commented on Nov 15 2009

    Great job man! Hope to become a translator myself one day.

    How To Cure Your Sciatica

  • Yvonne Fu commented on Nov 14 2009

    Nice meeting you, Shlomo!
    Hope to hear morea about our fellow translators!