Translation Capacity Building

Translation capacity

With its mission to promote research, teaching and public service in the social sciences and humanities, the CKS seeks to publish and translate key academic materials into the Khmer language while working to build capacity and to strengthen the publishing sector in general. Gains in the publishing and the translation sectors have been made in the past few years, yet there is still a notable lack of academic social sciences and humanities reference materials and texts in the Khmer language. Academic materials available in foreign languages are limited and beyond the capacity of most Cambodian readers to understand.

Existing capacities in the fields of translating and publishing in Cambodia are scattered and fragmented. This continues to have negative effects on undergraduate and graduate education. In order to remedy this situation, there is a critical need for a mass of trained and educated academic translators and a cohesive publishing plan for the social sciences and humanities in Cambodia, particularly at the university level.

CKS has been actively engaged in the fields of translation and publishing. A notable example is the Khmer language translation of David Chandler’s The History of Cambodia, (pictured) published by CKS in 2005. Within six months of its release, the book was in its second printing, and it continues to sell well in Cambodia, underscoring the urgent need for reference materials written or translated into Khmer. More recently, in 2009, we published the Khmer language version of Milton Osborne’s Southeast Asia: An Introductory History, which has also sold well in Phnom Penh book shops and elsewhere.

To this end, CKS has developed a Translation Capacity Building program to train and mentor a core team of translators, in conjunction with our Building Capacity in Cambodian Higher Education program (BIC-HE). Following each six month session of the BIC-HE program, three participants are selected to be trained as translators, involving a circular feedback and review process, where selections of reading material used in the courses are translated and published. The translators are familiar with the material to be translated, are educated in the social sciences and humanities and are thus able to concentrate on the process of translating itself. The Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Institute and private donors are supporting this three-year project in which up to six translators are trained per year.


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