TED Talks are available in 100 languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese, thanks to the tireless work of our translators. So far, more than 9,400 volunteers have created the upwards of 40,000 translated talks. To celebrate this huge accomplishment, every week the TED Blog will be bringing you a Q&A with one of our most prolific translators. Today, meet Elena Montrasio.
Where do you live and what do you do by day?
I live in London, U.K. I am a professor of Italian as a foreign language but at the moment I work as a literary translator.
What drew you to TED?
The desire to participate in a volunteer program where I could contribute my skills. That and general interest in the topics that TED deals with.
What was the first talk you translated and how did you pick it?
Peter Gabriel: Fight injustice with raw video My first talk was Peter Gabriel’s. I chose it because I have been in love with Peter Gabriel since I was 14!
What have been your favorite talks to translate? Why?
My favorite talks are the ones about marine conservation issues. The decay of the oceans because of damage from human beings is a topic that is very dear to my heart.
Which talk was the most difficult for you to translate and why?
It was actually a TEDx talk, “Captain Paul Watson: On upholding the international laws of marine conservation.” Not because it was hard in itself, but because I really wanted to do my absolute very best to contribute in spreading his message. So it took me a long time to make sure I was accurate and choosing words that would portray the heart that the speaker put into the talk.
What’s a phrase in your language that you wish would catch on globally?
“Se chiure na porta e s’arape nu portone.” It’s literally, “When a door closes, a wider door will open.” I think in English they say: “When a door closes, a window opens.”