Bird's Nest: Ai Weiwei in English (beta)


About Us

Community-based translations of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (@aiww) into English. We do not represent the artist.

Join our translation and fact-checking volunteers! We're looking for translators and experts in Chinese art and culture. Our contributors come from all parts of the world, with different levels of experience in Chinese language and contemporary art and culture. See our full list here.

Using Our Translations

Except where stated, all posts to Bird’s Nest (both translated tweets and editorial comments) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License to the individual translators. Learn more here.

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Please Note

The views expressed on this blog are solely those of Ai Weiwei and the individuals he quotes or retweets. We do not represent the artist, his views or his opinions, and while we make every effort to ensure accuracy in translation, we cannot guarantee it; we are simply providing this site as a service for English speakers.
Frequently Asked Questions

This is awesome. How can I help?

We need translators and cultural experts!  It’s just a few of us working on a volunteer basis in our spare time.  Please contact us if you can help.

What do you mean you’re in “beta”? Is this an automatic translation?

Hardly. We’re real humans working on regular translation in our spare time.  However, Mr. Ai tweets quite frequently, and given the real-time nature of Twitter, we want to make the translations available as soon as possible.  We’re not aware of other Twitter translation sites, but we have a hunch that the best way to do that is to give posting access to folks on Tumblr and allow anyone to contribute at any time via Disqus.

We expect to be in beta for a while; it’s a learning process, and we welcome your feedback.

What does Ai Weiwei think of this?

We were touched one day to receive an approving nod from him!

How come you don’t translate all of Mr. Ai’s tweets?

Frankly, it’s a time thing. He tweets a ton each day, often retweeting and quoting others, and he makes subtle references that we need to look up. Right now, the editors and translators are all working on a volunteer basis, and we just don’t have the time or people power to translate each tweet that comes in.  As a general rule, we’re prioritizing tweets that are just from him, and retweets with significant content.  If we missed a tweet you feel is important, let us know.

Why are you on Tumblr and not Twitter?

There are a few reasons here:

  1. We do use Twitter to update people on new posts, but we can’t do a word-for-word translation. While 140 characters in English is enough for a sentence or two, 140 characters in Chinese is roughly 100-140 words—practically a short blog post. Thus, it’s just not possible to make most Chinese-language tweets fit into English-language tweets.
  2. We chose Tumblr because it matches the community and real time orientation of Twitter while allowing for longer posts. 
  3. Finally, it features Disqus integration, which encourages discussion across multiple social networks.

I am learning Chinese and am trying to follow along. What resources do you recommend?

There are a number of great resources online:

Do you use others? Please let us know in the comments.

I have only studied Chinese for x years and am not very good. Can I contribute to translation?

We welcome anyone to make contributions to the translation! Even if you don’t speak Chinese very well, you can help us create more natural translations in English. The way we’ve set it up right now is that we have a few “core” translators and cultural interpreters (and we’re looking for more! Please contact us). However, we welcome folks of all levels to make contributions and ask questions via the comment system. This is a great way to practice written Chinese and learn about issues in Chinese contemporary art and culture while meeting likeminded friends.