Translators work hard for little profit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 September, 2010, 12:00am

The 'Open Yale courses' online programme allows people around the world to access lectures by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University, along with other course material.

Despite the fact all the lectures are in English, these recordings have become some of the hottest videos on the mainland.

This is partly thanks to a group of translators, YYeTs, who provided subtitled translations of the lessons.

Cean (who declined to give her full name) is a voluntary member of the group.

She is a full-time English editor who joined the group in 2008. She has also produced Chinese-English subtitles for American and European TV dramas.

'I am glad the courses are so popular,' she says.

'By providing translations, we let more people enjoy good television shows. I like sharing good things with others.'

Cean and her teammates take up translating work with great spirit and enthusiasm.

'I start translating at 9am and finish at 6pm. I'm hungry and my hands are tired, but I'm happy,' she says.

According to Cean, translating subtitles for a TV drama requires four to six translators.

Everyone does their own part, then a proofreader will collect all the translations and make adjustments to integrate their styles. YYeTs director Liang Liang says the group aims to bring good TV dramas to audiences who cannot speak English or other foreign languages.

'Soap operas produced on the mainland are not very good. We should learn from professional overseas productions,' he says.

Although their efforts are warmly welcomed by many, according to the Intellectual Property Law, disseminating videos online without permission infringes upon the author's copyright.

'We are just fans of TV dramas and we enjoy sharing our interests,' says Liang.

In fact, YYeTs members do not make much profit from their translations.

'It is not fair,' Liang says. 'Our works are pirated and sold by others. It is they, not us, that profit.'