At the past TEDxVilnius | The Future Is Ours event you’ve seen two girls on stage telling us about translating TEDTalks to Lithuanian -- those were Šarūnė and Viktorija from Lithuanian OPT team:

We invited Lithuanian OTP team to share a bit more of what OTP is and how can you be part of it:

The TED Open Translation project has been bringing TED talks to other languages since 2009 when it all began with 300 translated talks and 200 volunteers. At the present the global community of translators spans 170 languages and dialects, and unites people across the world. The Lithuanian Open Translations community at the moment has over 50 active translators who spend countless hours to help bring TED, TEDed and TEDx talks to their Lithuanian friends and families.

Why do people volunteer to translate TED talks? What is it that takes them out of bed in the morning to watch, choose and translate? We asked our translators these very questions and wish to share them with you. 

What made you start translating TED talks into Lithuanian and what inspires you the most about it?

Our translators are enthused by the idea that inspiring ideas they had translated will reach and impact other people.

Watching TED talks became a kind of mania for Karolina while she was still a university student. Cameron Sinclair`s talk on architecture made her realise what was missing in her lectures and she immediately wanted to share that with her peers. Sarune's special talk was about Hyeonseo Lee's escape from North Korea. She felt that this fascinating story should not be limited to English-speakers and decided to translate it into Lithuanian. 

Similarly, Petras wanted to share ideas on politics education and other topics that inspired him with his parents. Whilst watching the talks Agne was imagining how amazing it would be to actually participate in the event one day - but meanwhile she is part of TED by contributing her time to translate. Audra thought that Maysoon Zayid's talk should be heard by people of any generation, including her parents', for whom English may be a hindrance. For Viktorija, translations were a way of giving back to the community as well as to maintain her English skills and eventually it evolved into a hobby. 

Translating can be a way of preparing for a career. Liudvikas uses translating TED as a training ground before starting full-time work. He set out to be able to translate every talk about the environment and sustainability. It is an excellent way to follow researchers leading in the field. Likewise Kristina also uses the translations as a platform to test whether such career choice is for her. 

Edvinas, meanwhile, particularly liked the volunteering and community aspect of it - if the talk helps and inspires at least a few, he then takes it as accomplishment. 

One of our newest members Rimvydas enjoys the fact that translations are of the highest quality, going through rigorous peer review process, and uses it as a way to engage with the mother tongue whilst studying in London. 

How do you choose which talks to translate?

Our translators choose talks that have a personal meaning to them and inspire them. It is the natural wish to allow the ideas reach more and more people, including those who are not as proficient in English. Vytaute chooses videos that make her smile and motivate to get up and do something. 

However Mantas also takes the length of the talk into account - he enjoys short and snappy talks that can be translated quickly, given the personal time constraints. Agne thinks that talks that are delivered by a speaker who, in a way, you can relate to, are the best talks to translate due to that connection. Some choose talks that resonate with today’s most relevant topics, others translate their favourite talks, or those that inspire them the most. 

What challenges do you face most often in your translation efforts?

Translation is not all fun and games, being such volunteer requires diligence, patience, very strong language skills and most importantly creativity. 

We asked what are the challenges of being TED Open Translations volunteer: Ruta says it`s the discipline and finding the time to translate regularly. There is always that one “important” Youtube video to watch and Facebook status to Like... 

Egle points out that subtitles are an extremely constrained medium. Subtitles have to be short so that the viewer actually can read them in time; and they have to reflect the tone richness of the author, author’s unique way of talking. Furthermore, the subtle ambiguities in the language can be so hard to put into those few words. Quite a few translators, including Dovile and Vytaute, find the language specific terms, play on words, and innovative, technical terms the most tricky to translate, requiring creative thinking and sometimes experts’ help. 

Occasionally, technical issues can get in the way as well, but there are Language Coordinators and technical team are there to help, so you need to be resilient. 

And lastly, what do you enjoy the most about it?

Jurate has summed up the unanimous thoughts of translators well. Mainly, it is the realisation that your hard work will be viewed by someone else, will help spread ideas and contribute to an education experience by developing one’s creativity and critical thinking - that is what brings the most satisfaction once the translation is complete. 

By the same token, Agne gets the most content when the translated talk brings some real value to community, especially if the talk has touched her personally. Similarly, Ausra is very proud to see the TED spirit so alive in Lithuania and to be one of those contributing towards its expansion.  

On a different note, when linguistically challenging talk is translated well into Lithuanian and carries the meaning over with the nuances of authors way of speaking, you get a sense of accomplishment. But overall, the idea that your work can have a strong influence on someone’s life for the better, is the most gratifying feeling about being TED Open Translations volunteer for all. 

If you want to join our Lithuanian translators team, please get in touch with Lithuanian language coordinators Monika and Andrius and they will guide you through the process: and

To learn more about our all brilliant Lithuanian translators, please visit: