Language Open Translation Project

Meet Tony Yet, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Jenny Zurawell


Tell us about yourself.

I was born in China in 1986, and I’ve been living in this land of burgeoning hope for 24 years. I graduated from university in 2009 with a degree in English language and literature. Now I live in Guangzhou, a city of talent and ideas, which is near Hong Kong.

I am interested in language, technology, social innovation and stories. My love of language opened up my mind to the world of myriad possibilities. It has been crucial in enabling me to make sense of the bigger world.

I also run a blog in Chinese which features social innovation stories. I believe that the future of China relies on those people who care and are in pursuit of creative solutions to complex problems.


What drew you to TED?

I read a lot on the Internet. Sometime around 2006, I stumbled upon some podcast episodes from the iTunes store. I downloaded them, and listened again and again on my portable music player. They were speeches of a sort I seldom came upon before. There were ideas in the talks that really intrigued me. That was TED. I felt amazed that complicated ideas can be explained in such a simple and lucid fashion.

Then I discovered TEDTalks on solving big problems with new approaches, like Amy Smith’s talk on low-tech solutions for Haiti and Nicholas Negroponte’s talk on bringing hope and possibilities to kids in developing countries with his OLPC project. They opened up my mind to the world of creative challenges and I fell in love with it. The TED community has many such creative minds; I can find really dedicated people here. It’s like we’re all curious souls exploring the depths of knowledge. This special feature of TED’s community is the major attraction for me.


Why do you translate?

Well, first of all, translation is fun in and of itself, but it’s even more fun when the content is from TED. My idea to translate TEDTalks into Chinese was largely inspired by the OOPS (Opensource Opencourseware Prototype System) initiative launched in Taiwan. So I translated some talks and put them on the Internet. Many of my friends loved it, so I worked hard and translated a bit more. I’m very happy when I hear people say that they learn something from TED through my translations.

Later, I thought it would be a good idea to create a website to feature these translated TEDTalks. So with the help of a friend living in the US, we launched The idea is to bridge over the language barrier and bring these innovative talks to more Chinese people. It’s been a great journey for us to witness the birth and growth of the TED Chinese translator community and the much bigger TED fan community in China.


What are you favorite talks? Why?

All of Nicholas Negroponte’s talks. He says, “When you have a bug that you can’t get rid of you turn it into a feature.” I love this quote so much and it’s kind of become my motto. I also love that OLPC can become a whole new platform for learning for the younger generation — one of exploration and learning by doing.

Cameron Sinclair on open-source architecture — It’s the first time I learned that the opensource idea could be applied in fields other than software development. And I love his book Design Like You Give a Damn.

Dave Eggers’ wish: Once Upon a School — I love his passion and the simple idea he proposes in this talk.

Comments (12)

  • Steven Violano commented on May 13 2011

    Hi Tony, seems like you really mastered the English language, congratulations! I teach Chinese children in an English immersion environment and I just watched Patricia Kuhl’s “The Linguistic Genius of Babies”. My student’s parents and many other Chinese parents would really enjoy and benefit from this talk. Any plans for a translation of it? Thanks!

  • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on Oct 24 2010

    I just noticed that I didn’t congratulate you for the great efforts you do, Tony!
    Keep it up :)

  • Angelia2041 King commented on May 26 2010

    Thanks for your great work. And light up TED community here. Well done and keep going.

  • Angelia2041 King commented on May 26 2010

    Thanks for your great work. And light up TED community here. Well done and keep going.

  • Jun He commented on May 14 2010

    Tony, congratulations and thank you for spreading ideas here in China~

  • Veronica Vera commented on May 13 2010

    Congratulations Tony!!!
    TEDtoChina projct is a great idea!
    and because you like so much Nicholas Negroponte I give this video, you’ll like it!

  • Zachary Lin Zhao commented on May 13 2010

    Congratulations, Tony! It’s been an honor and a pleasure working with you both as a fellow translator at TED and as a team member at TEDtoChina. You are truly an inspiration to many people around you as well as to people like me who live thousands of miles away but are nevertheless greatly touched by your passion and compassion, your aspiration and determination. Once again, congratulations!

  • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on May 13 2010

    Oh yeah… After that amount of Kanji, I am sure you really are a great translator :) is also a great idea…

  • Qu Wei commented on May 13 2010


  • Jason Hsu commented on May 13 2010

    Way to go Tony! Proud of you.

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on May 12 2010

    Great Interview with a great young talent guy.
    Thanks for your efforts…and keep it up :)

  • Jenny Yang commented on May 12 2010

    ????? ????????????