Ms Anne-Maj van der Meer, Events Director, Translation Automation User Society (TAUS)
Members of the National Translation Committee and Language Resource Panels
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Day 2 of the MCI-Translation Automation User Society (TAUS) Translation Technology Conference. This is the first such translation technology conference hosted in Singapore that has brought some 200 next-generation translation professionals from across the world to Singapore. For those of you who have travelled from far away to be here, let me wish you a very warm welcome to Singapore. To our speakers and participants representing Singapore, I thank you for your enthusiasm and support. To our partner, TAUS, we thank you for this opportunity to collaborate. I hope that our participants have had the chance on the first day to network, to share your experience, to deliberate and devise better solutions for the future of translation.
Harnessing technology to help translation
2 Today, technology has disrupted many industries, including translation. This has brought about benefits as well as challenges, and raised has many sharp questions about the boundaries between man and machine in a profession that is all about an intimately human function of communication. Clearly, we would not all be here if we felt sceptical about the ability of technology to assist in, to speed up and improve the quality of translation. At the same time, as a trained practitioner of translation between the English and Chinese languages myself, and as a supporter of the translation industry, I hope I am not alone in believing that good translation, however skillfully automated, would always require the application of human refinement and judgement.
3 This conference is themed “Intelligent Content: In and Out of Asia”. Asia is home to about 4.6 billion people who speak over 2,300 languages. Asia is a high growth region with an accelerated pace of business collaboration and human exchanges taking place. This means that Asia is home to many stakeholders with a keen interest in learning how technology-aided translation can promote more business transactions, deepen cultural understanding and accelerate economic integration.
Translation in Government Communications
4 Let me take this opportunity to share why my Ministry – the Ministry of Communications and Information – is directly involved in co-organising this conference. In Singapore, we have four official languages. It is an important part of our Government communication efforts to reach out effectively to citizens when communicating policies. Although English is the language of administration, there remains a sizeable number of Singaporeans who prefer to receive important information and transact with public service agencies in non-English official languages - namely, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. To better serve Singaporeans, the public sector needs to consider how we can turn to technology to help us produce quality translations in a shorter time. I understand that some of the topics discussed at this conference include how technology is changing workflows of translation businesses, and the various aspects of machine translation, such as working with low-resource language pairs. I am certain that there are many learning points for us in the Government to pick up from these discussions, just as our Singaporean translation practitioners can make full use of this conference to glean new knowledge and learn from our international counterparts.
Developing local translation talent
5 Our translation practitioners are valued partners in the Government’s communication efforts, and we are committed to developing our translation talent. This is why we have collaborated with TAUS to organise this conference, to encourage participants to take this opportunity to broaden their professional horizons and widen their networks. This is one of our many initiatives to build capabilities amongst our translation talents. Others include the Translation Talent Development Scheme (TTDS), which we first awarded in 2018. Under the scheme, grants are awarded to translation talents, allowing them to develop their expertise and raising the overall standard of the translation industry. We also award scholarships to undergraduates with potential and passion for translation, in order to groom a pipeline of talent for the public service.
6 These initiatives are done by the National Translation Committee in Singapore, which I chair. Through these efforts, we hope to groom talent for the translation industry, and raise translation standards as a whole, by partnering stakeholders in the community. Next, please allow me to say a few words in Chinese.
Continued Commitment to Translation
9 Let me thank you all for being here, and for contributing your perspectives and knowledge in this space with other translation practitioners here at the conference.
10 I hope you will have a good day two of the conference, and forge strong relations. Thank you very much.