Translator training in complex linguistic landscapes: the Singapore case

The Value of Language has invited Dr Lim Beng Soon (SIM University, Singapore) to showcase how translator training in the city state of Singapore prepares graduates in language studies for the demands of professional life in a complex linguistic landscape. The Value of Language invites developers of translation courses in Europe to join the debate and share thoughts and ideas on translator training in complex linguistic landscapes and against the backdrop of linguistic superdiversity in urban areas.

The linguistic landscape in Singapore is indeed complex. Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. English is the working language, and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools. Public bodies in Singapore conduct their businesses in English, and documents written in any language apart from English typically have to be translated into English to be accepted for submission. Interpreters are required if one wishes to address the Courts in a language other than English. However, in terms of its linguistic landscape, Mandarin is the language that has the greatest number of speakers at almost 50%. Malay is spoken within the Singaporean Malay community, with 12% of all Singaporeans using it as their native language. Around 4% of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language.

In his presentation, Dr Lim Beng Soon will discuss the complex linguistic landscape in Singapore and the challenges that this complexity has brought about to the field of language studies and translation in this city state.

He will then explain how the Malay language department at SIM University, Singapore’s sole private university, provides training in basic translation knowledge and skills for a diverse group of clients in Singapore.

Dr Lim Beng Soon will also discuss the Malay language needs for translation in Singapore and how these needs require a generic training module that is broad based enough to attract sufficiently large economies of scale in cost averaging.

This debate will be in English with simultaneous interpretation into French and Dutch.


(Picture: Gary Tanim)



Associate Professor Dr Lim Beng Soon is the Head of Malay Language and Literature at SIM University in Singapore. His major research areas are Pragmatics, in particular Malay and English politeness and spoken discourse, Translation, Contact Languages and Applied Linguistics.

Prior to joining SIM University he was Associate Professor at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. He served for several years as language specialist to the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization’s Regional Language Centre in Singapore. His appointment to SEAMEO RELC required him to conduct courses for language professionals around South East Asia. Before his appointment at SEAMEO RELC, he was an assistant professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Dr Lim sits on the editorial board of the RELC Journal and was the co-editor of the SEAMEO publication for language teaching, Guidelines with Jack C. Richards. He is a member of the Talent Advisory Committee of the People’s Association in Singapore and Executive Committee member of the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics.

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