Special effort needed for NDP language translations due to importance of accuracy: Iswaran

Mr S. Iswaran said special effort is needed for translation work for the National Day Parade, in the wake of errors in the Tamil translation in 2017.
Mr S. Iswaran said special effort is needed for translation work for the National Day Parade, in the wake of errors in the Tamil translation in 2017.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (centre) launching the Tamil Language Festival on April 1, 2018.
Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (centre) launching the Tamil Language Festival on April 1, 2018. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Special effort is needed when doing language translations for the National Day Parade (NDP) due to the importance of translating accurately, said Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) on Sunday (April 1).

The onus is also on the agencies involved in the translation work for this year's NDP to be thorough, he said, adding that they need to check and double-check their work, in the wake of last year's Tamil translation mistakes.

"To expect that there will be no errors at all, I think it's unrealistic because it involves many of us in different aspects," he said on the sidelines of a Tamil language event.

"We need, on the part of the people who are involved in the translations, to take special effort because they should appreciate the sensitivity and the importance that's attached to accurate translation."

Some pamphlets used in last year's NDP rehearsals had letters in the Tamil phrase "let's come together as one nation" in the wrong places, while others were missing. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen attributed the mistake to not proofreading the pamphlets after the printers had made mistakes in translation.

Mr Iswaran was speaking at the Tamil Language Festival 2018, which he officially opened at the MES Theatre at Mediacorp on Sunday.

Organised by the Tamil Language Council since 2007, this year's festival features a record 58 programmes aimed at promoting the Tamil language.

One such programme is a drama by young people and students, as a culmination of their participation in programmes to improve their Tamil language skills last year. These programmes received additional funding from the council last year.

Said the council's chairman Mr R. Rajaram: "We think that it's critical that they understand and have an appreciation of the language so they can carry this forward. For (the festival) to be sustained, (young people) need to be involved and show an interest."

The festival's events, which run from March 31 to April 29, are organised in conjunction with 49 partners and four schools.

Some partners include the Indian Heritage Centre, the National Library Board, and the Ministry of Education's Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee.

One new partner is performance arts company ArtsWing, which will present a play based on the classic Tamil epic Silapathikaram. It tells the story of Kannagi, a legendary Tamil woman in pursuit of justice. The play will be available for non-Tamil speakers, and will take place at Ci Yuan Community Centre on April 28.

Other initiatives by the council include an English-Tamil glossary with over 4,000 common English terms and their corresponding Tamil terms, which was launched in February. To promote awareness of the glossary, a vocabulary quiz and contest for secondary and junior college students, as well as a translation camp for students, are part of the festival's programmes.