2012: Year of Milestones for Global Voices Lingua Project

Check out our regional reviews Global Voices in 2012

We had a great 2012 in Lingua, the project that makes Global Voices truly global. This piece touches upon  just a few of the milestones in a year where our reasons to celebrate were many: we have never translated this much, the community has never been this large, and we have never enjoyed this much media attention, or faced as many challenges, as we have in 2012.

Most Global Voices posts have been translated into at least one other language. All but one of the most popular 2012 stories have translations, ranging from one to 17 languages each. Our teams of volunteers produced a total  of close to 18,000 translations in 33 languages in 2012. Effectively, since our launch in 2007, Lingua volunteers have produced nearly 72,300 translations. Which means we could reach a combined milestone of 100,000 translations by the end of 2013!

Lingua Project Global Voices in Malagasy


In 2012, Global Voices in French achieved the 10,000 translations mark; Global Voices in Malagasy and in Bengali reached 5,000 posts, with Global Voices in Chinese not far away. With less than two years of launch, Global Voices in Greek published over 2,000 translations, whereas Global Voices in Spanish is almost certain to end it sixth year in 2013 with 20,000 translations.

Smaller languages have also experienced amazing growth, both in terms of the number of translations published and in community members, as well as in recognition. For the first time, Global Voices in German reached a 50 posts a month mark in an exceptionaly busy November. Our friends at Global Voices in Aymara, who often use internet cafes to upload translations, charmed the audience of the International Conference on Aymara Language and Culture in Iquique, Chile, talking about the project's contribution to preserving the language and dissemination of world history through translations.


Two new sites kicked off in 2012: Global Voices Bulgarian was launched in the first half of the year, and Global Voices in Amharic in the second half, bringing the total number of languages to 35. In addition to these, we were happy to see seven sites that had been inactive making a comeback: Global Voices in Myanmar/Burmese, Global Voices in Urdu, Global Voices in Turkish, Global Voices in Filipino, Global Voices in Indonesian, Global Voices in Swahili, and Global Voices in Farsi.

The overall interest in the Lingua community has been bigger than ever before, with most sites being flooded with applications from new volunteers. There are presently nearly 600 active translators in the community, an increase of over 200 active volunteers compared to last year. Global Voices in Japanese alone has 140 more translators than the team had in 2011, and Global Voices in Polish has received over 100 applications – how amazing is that? In 2013, we hope more of our volunteers will become more active.

Yet, we are still looking for volunteers to reactivate Global Voices in Hindi, Global Voices in Hebrew, which we hope to re-activate in 2013, and strengthen Global Voices in Cambodian, in Korean, in Macedonian, in Serbian and in Albanian. Being part of Global Voices is a very meaningful experience for our collaborators, and we are extremely grateful to each one of them. Would you care to join this amazing team?

Global Voices in Hungarian meetup

Global Voices in Hungarian team meet up for a translation workshop and fun in Budapest, August 2012

Projects and changes

Growth apart, perhaps the most dramatic changes in Lingua project in recent years is the process that we no longer “just translate”, but we also produce news in a number of languages. As a consequence, Lingua is rapidly changing from a community of translators to include a community of multilingual content producers. These changes may point to an interesting future for the Lingua Project, and for Global Voices in general, towards a Multilingual Newsroom.

This experiment has allowed for very unusual language pairs, demanding more workflows and inspiring new ways of doing things, bringing a new set of skills to Lingua and many new challenges to editors: in 2012 we had  French volunteers translating directly from the usual Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, but also from Russian, Chinese, Swahili, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian. Besides changing the way we think about how to report global news, we can now welcome volunteers who do not speak English at all, as well as translators whose first language is English, making Lingua an even more inclusive project.

In 2012, our multilingual teams produced 712 posts originally in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. Among the stories published in this experiment, a collaborative post about the resistance of Brazilian indigenous group Guarani Kaiowa written originally in Portuguese inspired collaboration of at least 9 people in 3 different continents, 5 countries, 7 cities – and the Global Voices 2012 fundraising campaign.

Recognition and partnerships

Global Voices in French posts republished in a dedicated section of Rue89 reached 3.5 million of page views in 2012. Since the partnership started in 2009, the popular French news website has helped us amplify the conversation even further in the francophone world. Global Voices in Italian and its on-going partnership with daily La Stampa has also made our stories go mainstream.

In 2012, Global Voices in Catalan enjoyed media attention for posts they produced about the volatile situation in Catalonia's politics, appearing on an Al Jazeera Live Stream episode and in the Washington Post.

In July, Lingua spearheaded a marathon to get the Declaration of Internet Freedom translated into as many languages as possible – together with people in our network, we converted that document into nearly 60 languages.

Europe in Crisis, the first of Global Voices e-books, has also been launched in Italian, Arabic, and Spanish translations, with and Portuguese and French coming soon. Some teams have already started to translate the content of our second e-book, African Voices of Hope and Change, published in English in mid-December.

In collaboration with the newsroom, Lingua was commissioned to provide translations into Arabic, French, and Spanish to the International Relations and Security Network (ISN), a provider of open access information services for international relations and security professionals.

Lingua translators have also been commissioned by the international nonprofit human rights organisation Witness to translate 35,000 words of its Video for Change Toolkit into Arabic, French, and Spanish, to be launched soon.

And to close the year in high style, right at the end of 2012 Global Voices was commissioned to provide translations into Arabic, French, Swahili, and Somali for Refugees United, a nonprofit organisation that aims to help refugees safely reconnect with missing family members.

Partnerships like these result in a modest but welcome income for our volunteer translators, and in the promotion of Lingua and the work our translators do. Should you like to support Lingua as a translation or media partner, or in any other way, please get in touch – we are open to whatever 2013 brings.

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