Language Open Translation Project

Meet Krystian Aparta, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Matthew Trost

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In the next weeks, the TED Blog will shine the spotlight on the fantastic TED volunteer translators — offering a glimpse of the people whose efforts continue to enrich the Open Translation Project. Today, we’d like you to meet Krystian Aparta.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in 1980 in Lublin, Poland. When I was a few years old, my family moved across the country to Silesia, a region with its own language (the Silesian dialect of Polish), values, customs, and a worldview different from what I was familiar with. I think that growing up trying to make sense of this cultural and linguistic clash was quite important in shaping my interest in linguistics and cognition. This experience also left me with both a respect towards the way other cultures and the individuals that carry them around perceive themselves and the world through their “cultural glasses,” and a covetous curiosity, driving me to pry into and learn about the way other people think. I have a degree in English Philology, and I’ve also studied cognitive semantics, which I love for the way it can be used to formalize and explore intuitions. I like to discover new worlds and realities in what is considered obvious around me, and this is one of the reasons why I love science fiction literature and film, with Star Trek always providing me with a lot of inspiration. I also love humor in general, stand-up and anime comedy in particular. Studying and learning about new languages allows me to peer into new cultural realities, and to find new areas to be exploited with humorous intent, as well. I’m currently expanding my knowledge of Japanese, and recently I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the first-ever formal course of the previously marginalized Polish Sign Language (PJM).

krystian_2.jpgWhat drew you to TED?

I came across Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk by accident, while researching something for an unrelated translation project. I found the talk very interesting, and I was amazed at how well it was constructed and delivered. I watched several others, and kept coming back ever since. I have little patience for old and tested solutions, interpretations, ideas or approaches, whenever I see a way to innovate and replace them with something new that works better. You can see how TED’s talks feed into that. I am happy to see this collection of new ideas gathered and distributed for free. To me, these talks represent a repository of undeniable potential for progress, and the potential to make waves in stale or repressive minds, ideologies, frameworks and communities.

Why do you translate?

My bi-cultural experience inherently included the need to express ideas foreign to a given audience in terms that would render these ideas comprehensible. Very often I find that I also need to “translate” my own thoughts into language, being a predominantly intuitive / kinesthetic thinker. I also have an insatiable need to share ideas that I find fascinating, and sometimes this involves expressing them in another language. I started translating for TED because I desired to share ideas that I found fascinating, and to use my Polish translations to make these new ideas an incorruptible fixture in a culture that may very often be considered not very progressive, and pretty repressive.

What are your favorite talks?

There are many talks that I love, but if I were to pick, I would choose Aimee Mullins’ talks for the way they allow us to let go of prejudice, and Eva Vertes’ talk for the way she shows how being naïve tramples qualifications and other extraneous prejudgments labeled onto one’s knowledge and insight. I am also a fan of Pranav Mistry’s inventions, and I can’t wait to finally see that flying toaster he’s likely been working on.

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