We’re happy to announce that thanks to a grant from Open Philanthropy, EA France has been translating core EA content into French.
EA France is also coordinating EA EN→FR translation efforts: if you’re translating EA content from English to French or considering it, please contact me so we can check that there is no duplicated effort and provide support!
EA France’s translation project
With Open Philanthropy’s grant, we hired professional translators to translate 16 articles, totalling ~67,000 words. Their work is being reviewed by volunteers from the French EA community.
Articles being translated
- What is effective altruism? (translation available at Qu’est-ce que l’altruisme efficace ?)
- Comparing Charities (translation available at Y a-t-il des organisations caritatives plus efficaces que d’autres ?)
- Expected Value
- On Caring
- Four Ideas You Already Agree With
- The Parable Of The Boy Who Cried 5% Chance Of Wolf
- Preventing an AI-related catastrophe
- The case for reducing existential risks
- Preventing catastrophic pandemics
- Climate change
- Nuclear security
- The “most important century” blog series (summary)
- Counterfactual impact
- Neglectedness and impact
- Cause profile: Global health and development
- This is your most important decision (career “start here”)
(See the appendix for other translation projects from English to French, and for existing translations.)
All content translated as part of the EA France translation project will be released on the EA France blog.
It is also available for use by other French-speaking communities, provided that they 1) cite original writers, 2) link EA France’s translations, 3) notify EA France at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re very happy that more EA content will be available to French speakers, and we hope that it will make outreach efforts significantly easier!
Translation Coordination Initiative
Now that several translation projects exist, it’s essential that we have a way to coordinate so that:
- we don’t duplicate effort (translating the same content twice),
- we agree on a common vocabulary (so the same term doesn’t get translated in 3 different ways, which makes it needlessly confusing for readers),
- EA France can provide support to all projects (e.g. sharing translations once they’re published, helping with editing, hosting translated works).
The coordination initiative consists of:
- a master spreadsheet which lists all existing projects, and what they’re translating,
- a glossary of existing translations that translators and editors can refer to (still in progress).
The master spreadsheet and the editable version of the glossary are accessible upon request.
What other translation projects exist?
There are at least two other ongoing projects contributing to this overall effort, feeding the glossary and monitored in the master spreadsheet:
- translating the 80,000 Hours Career Guide, led by Théo Knopfer (funded by a grant from Open Philanthropy),
- translating the EA Handbook, led by Baptiste Roucau (also funded by a grant from Open Philanthropy).
What translations are already available in French?
- Longtermism: An Introduction (Les trois hypothèses du long-termisme, translation by Antonin Broi)
- 500 Million, But Not A Single One More (500 millions, mais pas un de plus, translation by Jérémy Perret)
- The lack of controversy over well-targeted aid (L’absence de controverse au sujet de l’aide ciblée, translation by Eve-Léana Angot)
- Framing Effective Altruism as Overcoming Indifference (Surmonter l’indifférence, translation by Flavien P)
- Efficient Charity — Do Unto Others (Une charité efficace — Faire au profit des autres, translation by Guillaume Thomas)
How did you choose what to translate?
We used the following criteria (content didn’t have to fulfill all criteria to be included):
- It is an article – the project did not include books (which have more overhead in the form of agreement with publishing houses), video subtitles, podcasts.
- It is an article that we consider to be of high quality.
- It fills a gap in our existing introductory content.
- We didn’t have good articles on the emotional appeal of EA (such as On Caring), or on certain key EA concepts such as expected value or counterfactual impact. We also were missing in-depth explanations of certain cause areas from an EA perspective, such as Preventing an AI-related catastrophe or Nuclear security).
- On the other hand, we already have a lot of good content on animal welfare, both farmed animal welfare and wild animal welfare, so we didn’t include articles on these topics in our project.
- It is used in our current material (our Introductory Fellowship or our Discovery Emails programme).
Will you translate other articles in the future?
We’re considering it. There were lower-priority articles that we didn’t end up translating as part of this project, which would be valuable to have in French.
Will you translate books?
We are strongly considering translating books. The only EA book in French is The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer (L’altruisme efficace).
If you or your organisation own the right to an EA book and would like to get it translated into French, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Why pay for professional translators instead of asking volunteers?
For core, high-quality EA content that we plan to use in our outreach, guaranteeing a high quality of translation seemed worthwhile. Poorly translated articles could impair our outreach efforts, especially if we move beyond student outreach and try to reach established actors.
Volunteer work also requires a management overhead that we wanted to avoid.
We would consider going with volunteers for content that isn’t core to our outreach efforts.
How did you select the translators?
We selected 7 professional translators from the Société Française des Traducteurs based on their specialties and what we could see of their work, plus 2 translation agencies and 1 EA (not in the French community) who had done translation work before. All translators went through a paid translation test where they translated 500 words of Expected Value by Probably Good. Their anonymised work was evaluated by 3 members of the EA France team, and the 2 best translators were selected.
This approach didn’t yield the results we expected, with one of the translators (from an agency) proving subpar, which led to us spending longer editing their translations. Anecdotally, the agency was the cheapest per word (only 75% as expensive as independent translators).
What we would do differently:
- We wouldn’t increase the number of translators for the translation test, for financial reasons.
- Instead, we would pick from a pool of candidates that has already been pre-selected. The Société Française des Traducteurs accepts all professional translators, without subjecting them to any tests. There are groups with more stringent acceptance criteria (for instance the Chartered Institute of Linguists).
Did you localise content?
Yes, we did not hesitate to localise content (i.e. adapt a text to fit the local context). All localisations were indicated in the translation so as to be easily noticeable by the original writer.
- all dollar amounts were converted to euros, except when it didn’t make sense;
- examples of “the average American”, “a Brit”;
- data when we could find good French equivalents (for instance, instead of mentioning the number of farmed animals in the US, we mentioned the number of farmed animals in France);
- miscellaneous (mentioning French initiatives alongside other initiatives whenever we could, adding definitions for concepts that aren’t well-known in France...)
Shoutout to helpful posts
- Translating The Precipice into Czech: My experience and recommendations
- Translations (the Portuguese experience)
We’re asking to know where translations are used so that if we make any changes to the translation, we can propagate them through all existing versions. Some articles also have specific sharing conditions.