SINGAPORE - Translators who want to get jobs outsourced from government agencies may have to be accredited in future - a move that can raise professional standards.
The idea of accrediting translators was floated at the first meeting this month of a new committee to improve the quality of translation in government agencies, said Mr A. Pandiyan, a committee member and deputy editor of the Tamil Murasu newspaper.
The mechanics of certification, including who would do so, have yet to be worked out.
"The merit of accreditation has to be weighed against the costs," said Mr Pandiyan.
The Ministry of Communications and Information has about 20 translators, who translate important material such as that for the Budget. Government agencies can outsource translation for other things but should vet the translated material.
The National Translation Committee was formed this month. Its 25 members - translators and government and media representatives - will look at how best to outsource translation and nurture new talent.
Accrediting translators could solve the "lowest bidder" problem, said Elite Translations Asia managing director Carol Hong.
Cheap jobs are often outsourced to other countries and the results are not proofread, she noted. "They may not be translated in a context-specific manner for Singapore," she said.
Rates range from two cents to 50 cents a word, and those of 15 to 30 cents are fair, she said.
The Government is a large buyer of translation services so if it starts employing only accredited translators, the industry would have to keep up, she said.