SINGAPORE: A Government-appointed review panel has made several recommendations to improve public sector Tamil translation standards, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said on Friday (Jan 27).
The review panel - led by the head of the Tamil Resource Panel, Mr A Palaniappan - found that errors were made sometimes due to literal translations, insufficient checks or font-conversion issues. For instance, some printers do not have compatible Tamil software and that could result in gibberish text being printed on commissioned material.
The panel recommends:
1) Tightening vetting procedures
Government agencies must adopt a more rigorous process when producing translated communications materials and can tap on Government procurement resources to get quality translation and vetting services, particularly if they do not have the relevant in-house capability.
The review panel has also provided a list of experienced vetters whom the agencies could hire for vetting services.
2) Engaging print companies with Tamil text-compatible software
Government agencies should engage publishing or printing companies that are able to convert Tamil text properly to ensure that the text will not appear as gibberish. The National Translation Committee and Tamil Resource Panel will also organise training sessions for vendors to bring them up to speed.
3) Focusing on capability development
The Government should establish a network of public officers proficient in Tamil, including Tamil language teachers, and identify training opportunities to help these officers hone their translation capabilities further.
The Tamil Resource Panel, together with the Tamil Language Council, will produce a glossary of commonly-used terms in Tamil that will be circulated to Government agencies for reference to maintain consistency. The glossary is expected to be published this year.
Speaking at an appreciation event for the panel on Friday, Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat said the recommendations put forth are “not ‘silver bullets’ that can address all translation-related issues overnight”, but that the effort is a “work-in-progress”.
He said MCI will continue to work closely with all Government agencies, language experts and community partners - including media and schools - to build capabilities. Ultimately, "agencies must take ownership to ensure the accuracy of their translations, as this is a key part of getting their communications right”, he said.