Science popularization: Research videos in indigenous languages

Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil.

Search for this author in:

The winning videos of the first multilingual competition for science popularization, Imagine-PanGea, are now available with subtitles in ten languages, including Tsonga (also known as Changana), the native language of Mozambique, and Guaraní, a language used by indigenous people in parts of South America (

The competition was organized by the Imagine Project in partnership with the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science and two science-popularization networks — RedPOP in Latin America and the Caribbean, and African Gong in Africa. The aim was to democratize knowledge and stimulate a taste for science in people who usually have little or no access to it. The 55 competitors were graduate students at institutions in those regions. They submitted three-minute videos on their research topics, presented so that people anywhere could understand them.

Translation was tricky, particularly for languages that are not traditionally influenced by academic vocabulary. As pointed out by translator Joana Mongelo — the first Guaraní science master’s graduate in southern Brazil — various terms in the videos do not exist in her native language and so had to remain in Portuguese. Further translations are planned, including into Yoruba (a language from West Africa) and the Bantu languages Umbundu and Kimbundu, spoken in Angola.

Nature 551, 168 (2017)

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.