Translation in Singapore : who does it better?
Leong, Yuan Hong
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The quality of translation in Singapore has often come under the spotlight. However, there has been very few or almost no research on translation quality in Singapore that examines the relation between translation quality and the qualification and bilingual profile of Singapore translators. Besides that, the status of translator in Singapore is constantly challenged, and thus, Singapore translators are calling for more efforts to improve their working conditions. Hence, this study has two main purposes. Firstly, it aims to present an overview of the quality of English-Chinese and Chinese-English translations in Singapore by comparing 1) translations produced by translators with and without translator education, and 2) translations produced by English-dominant, Chinese-dominant and the “more balanced bilingual” translators. Secondly, it explores the possibility of setting up a translators’ association/authority that offers accreditation services. A total of 24 Singapore translators took part in this study. They answered two sets of questionnaires and produced one English-Chinese translation and one Chinese-English translation. Their translations were marked using an error-analysis method called the Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) model by two industry experts. It was found that participants were able to produce high-quality English-Chinese translation and Chinse-English translation even without education in translation. Participants who are more equally proficient in two languages were also found to be more competent in producing high quality translations in both directions as compared to those who are more proficient in either the source language or the target language. Overall, the quality of Chinese-English translation was higher than the quality of their English-Chinese translation. Participants also showed strong support for the establishment of a translators’ association/authority in Singapore. It is hoped that the findings of this study could provide insights into the translation quality in Singapore, gave an impetus to professionalising the industry and inspire researchers, industry players and relevant authority to conduct further research on professional development of translators.