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Universal Subtitles by Transparent Language Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Have you ever noticed that you typically only watch online video content in your language? How do deaf people watch videos online… usually without knowing their content. Sad, isn’t it? Well, Mozilla (the creators of Firefox) have been working on a solution: Universal Subtitles. It is still new, but already works quite well. You can take a video and subtitle it into any language you know! I find this to be an excellent way to help non-Esperanto speakers be able to view original content in Esperanto. If there are subtitles in Esperanto, then this can also help people learning Esperanto to understand the video better as well!

For example, when I was in Rotterdam last year, I interviewed the volunteer of TEJO (World Esperanto Youth Organization), Manuela Ronco, about what TEJO does. Here you can see my interview with subtitles in Esperanto or English. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t yet support embedding Universal Subtitles videos, so you can see the video without subtitles from YouTube below:

Last year, the previous CTO of Wikimedia, Brion Vibber, came to Berlin and gave a terrific lecture about the role Esperanto played in the multilingual development of Wikipedia from a technical point of view… and he lectured in Esperanto! Unfortunately, my video camera’s battery ran out part way through, but at least I got the juiciest part. Now, thanks to Universal Subtitles, you can see Brion Vibber subtitled into English and Esperanto (Video license: CC BY-SA Transparent Language). Below is the same video without subtitles:

Is there a video you particularly like which you think would be interesting to a more international audience? All you need to do is create an account, enter the URL of the video and then the system will show you how to produce a subtitled video in three easy steps:

  • Transcribe the original text of the video
  • Indicate timestamps by tapping the spacebar (like a video game) when the next subtitle should start.
  • Watch the video with subtitles and make final adjustments.

Universal Subtitles recently told me that they’re currently working hard on adding a more advanced browsing system, so you can search by language for original content and subtitles. Wouldn’t it be cool if Esperanto were a very active language when they start publishing their language stats for their videos? Also, if you speak a language besides English, I would greatly appreciate if you could subtitle either of the above videos into your native language to help spread the word about TEJO and Esperanto’s influence on Wikipedia. If you help out, feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you did. Thanks for everything!

Special thanks to my video editor, Renker Amantea, for his hard work in editing the videos in this entry.

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About the Author: Chuck Smith

I was born in the US, but Esperanto has led me all over the world. I started teaching myself Esperanto on a whim in 2001, not knowing how it would change my life. The timing couldn’t have been better; around that same time I discovered Wikipedia in it’s very early stages and launched the Esperanto version. When I decided to backpack through Europe, I found Esperanto speakers to host me. These connections led me to the Esperanto Youth Organization in Rotterdam, where I worked for a year, using Esperanto as my primary language. Though in recent years I’ve moved on to other endeavors like iOS development, I remain deeply engrained in the Esperanto community, and love keeping you informed of the latest news. The best thing that came from learning Esperanto has been the opportunity to connect with fellow speakers around the globe, so feel free to join in the conversation with a comment! I am now the founder and CTO of the social app Amikumu.