Volume 9, No. 4 
October 2005

  Dr. Kulwindr Kaur


Front Page

Select one of the previous 33 issues.




Index 1997-2005

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
Translators and Translations: Paintings and Shades in Their Frames
by Regina Alfarano, Ph.D.

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee

  TJ Cartoon
Great Moments in Languages: Twelve-step Program to Recover from Translationese
by Ted Crump

  Translators Around the World
Translation Accreditation Boards/Institutions in Malaysia
by Dr. Kulwindr Kaur d/o Gurdial Singh

  Translators and Computers
La traduction automatique par opposition à la théorie interprétative — analyse d'un corpus de productions réelles
Chidi Nnamdi Igwe

Strategies for New Interpreters: Interpreting in the Indonesian Environment
by Izak Morin

Picturesque German—German Idioms and Their Origins
by Igor Maslennikov

  Translator Education
Training of Interpreters: Some Suggestions on Sight Translation Teaching
by Elif Ersozlu, Ph.D.
The Contact Between Text, Mind, and One's Own Word in a Translation Workshop
by Leandro Wolfson
A Competent Translator And Effective Knowledge Transfer
by Dr. Kulwindr Kaur a/p Gurdial Singh

  Literary Translation
L'Épreuve de l'autre dans la traduction espagnole de Vivre me tue
Dr. Nadia Duchêne

  Translators' Tools
Translators’ Emporium
Discovering Translation Equivalents in a Tourism Corpus by Means of Fuzzy Searching
by Michael Wilkinson
CAT Tools and Productivity: Tracking Words and Hours
by Fotini Vallianatou

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal

Translators around the World


Translation Accreditation Boards/Institutions in Malaysia

by Dr. Kulwindr Kaur d/o Gurdial Singh
Lecturer, Department of English Language
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
University of Malaya

resently there are no Translation Accreditation Boards in Malaysia. The researcher was informed of this by Puan Siti Rafiah bt. Sulaiman, the Head of the Translation Section of the Malaysian National Institute of Translation (ITNMB). According to her, ITNMB is still in the process of drawing up translation programmes with the help of translator certification office-holders in America, New Zealand and Australia, i.e., the American Translators Association, New Zealand Translators Association and the Australian Translators Association. According to her, the certification office-holders of these associations will be contacted to evaluate ITNMB's translation programmes and finally the authorities at ITNMB can have their translation courses accredited by authorities at the Malaysian Board of Accreditation or Lembaga Akreditasi Negara (LAN), which will issue the certificate of accreditation for ITNMB's translation courses. The authorities at LAN can do this because although ITNMB reports to the government, it is registered under the Register of Companies and thus is still considered a private institution offering its own courses to the public. This has not been achieved as yet, but steps are now being taken in this direction.

According to Puan Siti Rafeah, presently there are around 700 registered part-time translators in ITNMB, but there are no accredited translators in Malaysia. The authorities at ITNMB have yet to apply through the government via an Act to empower them to accredit their registered translators. The authorities at ITNMB are still in the process of applying for this permit to issue accreditation certificates to accomplished translators, and this procedure is still being investigated by the authorities at ITNMB. This will involve meetings at the ministerial level, and working papers must be submitted to the cabinet before it can be approved via an Act.

The two institutes that train translators and provide translation courses both in the science and arts fields and provide certificates to successful students in translation in Malaysia are the Malaysian National Institute of Translation (ITNMB) and the Institute of Language and Literature Malaysia (DBP). ITNMB, which was established on 14th September 1993, deals solely with translation activities; DBP, which was formerly involved in translation activities is now solely engaged in the promotion of the Malay language and in publishing academic and general books written in the Malay language.

The Malaysian National Institute of Translation (ITNMB)

All information regarding ITNMB is taken from the ITNMB Brochure published in 2001 and presented by Hamidah Baba, the managing director of ITNMB in her paper entitled, "ITNMB Penentu Masa Depan Industri Terjemahan dan Kejurubahasaan Negara" (ITNMB - The Future Determiner of the Translation and Interpreting Industry in Malaysia) which was presented on 17th October 2002 at the First International Conference on Language, Linguistics and The Real World at the Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel in Malaysia. The Malaysian National Institute of Translation (ITNMB-Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia Berhad) is situated in Wangsa Maju in Kuala Lumpur. Its aim is to provide the infrastructure for Malaysia's translation industry, in line with the Malaysian Prime Minister's 2020 Vision to see Malaysia as a fully developed and industrialised country. ITNMB has been entrusted to undertake translation, interpretation and information exchange work on the national and international levels.


Reasons for the Establishment of ITNMB

ITNMB was established for the following reasons:

  1. Due to calls like the one from the officers of a semiconductor company who said, "We need a centre that can efficiently translate technical manuals from German/French/Japanese to English and Malay. This is currently one of the bottlenecks to industrialization".
  2. Due to the realisation that the weakness of our current Information Technology System is caused by foreign-language barriers, which prevent access to international information.
  3. To achieve the Sixth Strategy of Vision 2020, which is to establish an educated, progressive, and mobile society, giving it a competitive advantage not only as a technology user but also as a contributor to the future development of science and technology.
  4. Based on a report by the Royal Air force of Malaysia which said that, "Many of the manuals for Aircraft Servicing in Malaysia have to be translated from English to Malay. The lack of translation work into Malay makes it difficult for technicians and engineers to understand the manuals, especially for those who are not proficient in the English language".
  5. For universities, translation will help to increase the number of academic books in Malay.

Objectives of ITNMB

The objectives of ITNMB are to:

  1. provide translation, interpretation and information exchange services on the national
  2. and international levels;

  3. translate knowledge materials into the Malay language with emphasis on high-
  4. quality works;

  5. translate important local works into other languages to enhance the country's
  6. image;

  7. offer training and guidance in the translation field.

Corporate Statement of ITNMB

The corporate statement of ITNMB comprises its identity, vision and mission, which are described below:

  1. Identity. ITNMB strives to provide quality translation to produce a knowledgeable society. It ensures good service so that its customers are satisfied. It ensures excellent products to uphold its reputation.
  2. Vision. ITNMB's vision is to become an excellent professional translation body in Malaysia.
  3. Mission. ITNMB's mission is to strive to eliminate language barriers in the dissemination of knowledge through translation in order to cultivate a more progressive, dynamic and cultured society. Furthermore, it wishes to enhance the Malay language as the medium of thought in culture, science and technology through translation.

Organisation of ITNMB

ITNMB's latest Structural Organisational Chart is presented in Figure 1.


Figure 1



Functions of ITNMB

The functions of ITNMB as determined by the Cabinet are to:

  1. plan, implement, manage, as well as to coordinate matters pertaining to translation, interpretation and information exchange in various languages on the national and international levels;
  2. assist in the development and distribution of translation projects as well as other projects related to multilingual translation, interpretation, and information exchange from all over the world to translators and privately-owned companies in Malaysia;
  3. promote the science, technology and art of translation, interpretation, and information exchange in various languages;
  4. develop and improve the expertise of translators, editors, interpreters, and related careers to meet the country's needs on the national and international levels;
  5. provide commercial and social services for books, documents, computer software and reading materials from various languages into the Malay language utilising the translation and computer/computer-aided translation services;
  6. provide interpretation services commercially and socially for local and international clients;
  7. encourage translation, interpretation, and information exchange in various languages and also organise various activities to attract, inform, and promote the growth of translation and interpretation services in Malaysia;
  8. establish standards and provide quality assurance and recognition services for multilingual translations, interpretation, and information exchange in Malaysia.

(taken from ITNMB Brochure: 2001)

Grading System for Translators

Translators who are registered with ITNMB are graded based on a short test which they must take. According to Puan Siti Rafiah binti Sulaiman, head of the translation section at ITNMB, there is a grading system to evaluate the skills of translators who wish to translate documents, especially those from English into Malay. This is a new system that has just been implemented to fulfill ITNMB's need to identify translators for translating books. A translator must sit for a short examination in the specific and general fields in which that he or she intends to translate. This is to assess his/her proficiency in the Malay language. The translated product is then evaluated and graded according to the marks obtained in the examination. The format of the short test is as follows:

The test with a total weight of 100% is divided into three parts which are:

  1. Test based on Malay Grammar, which carries 10%
  2. Test based on General Text Translation, which carries 45%
  3. Test based on a Special Text, which carries 45%

All the candidates who sit for this test are required to complete all the above three tests. The first part on Malay Grammar tests their competence in the Malay language, for which they have to sit for an objective test which has 100 questions which test various Malay grammatical rules such as affixes, transitive verbs, etc. to see if the candidate is knowledgeable in all the grammatical rules relevant to translating.

The second part, which deals with General Text Translation, requires the candidate to translate a general text of about 500 words if it is a document and about 8-10 pages if it is a book.

In the third part which deals with specific texts in a specialised field, a candidate is required to translate a text of about 500 words for a document and about 8-10 pages if it is a book which is relevant to the candidate's field of specialisation.

The second and third parts can be done at home by the candidates within a stated time period, and the texts chosen by ITNMB can be either from real clients' work or from chapters of books which are being translated.

Based on their performance in the tests, the candidates are classified according to their grades as shown in Table 1. Candidates who score As and Bs are usually called upon by the translation authorities at ITNMB to join their pool of translators to help them in translation tasks for which they are paid well. Those who do not perform well are advised to improve themselves and to sit for the tests again once they are ready.

Table 1

Classification of Translators According to Grades



















Publication of Translated Books

To date, ITNMB has published 43 books in various fields. Of these, only two translated science books in Malay have been published for institutions of higher learning while seven have been translated and published for general reading; these can also be used as reference books for Form 6 students and for students in institutions of higher learning.

Presently, the translation services in ITNMB cater for the private sector, where the profits are greater. ITNMB is not very interested as the translated in textbook translation, because books do not sell well in the market and ITNMB has to bear the cost of publishing and later stockpiling the unsold books. ITNMB has learned a lesson from DBP when two million translated books published by DBP could not be sold as reported in the Malay newspaper—Berita Harian dated 19th September 1995. Furthermore, copyright approval has to be obtained from the original author and a specific time limit is given to translate, failing which, the copyright approval has to be requested for again. The translators assigned to translate English-language scientific texts to the Malay language sometimes cannot meet the deadlines given, as they are professionals doing translation on a part-time basis and have other commitments. This causes difficulties for ITNMB.

According to Abdul Razak Ismail (1997:49), English-language scientific books translated to the Malay language mainly cater for students in the technical and vocational fields in Institutions of higher learning. The general public is not interested in buying such books which generally do not have much relevance to their work. Students in the fields of science and technology are very few in number. Most of them prefer to photocopy the relevant chapters in a book because not all the chapters are covered for their courses. This cuts their costs. Also, some seniors who have bought translated books sell them at half-price to the junior students who, therefore, do not buy new translated books. Working people would rather buy the original books written in English language which are easier to understand rather than invest their money in poorly translated Malay books which may contain terminology terms which they are not familiar with.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP)

The researcher feels that a discussion of DBP - Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka or the Institute of Language and Literature Malaysia (the Language Academy for Malaysia) is very important because DBP is a very important resource centre for translators who are involved in translating texts from any source language to the Malay language. From DBP, they can get the latest in the Malay language. In this section, the researcher will discuss the structure, organisation, and activities carried out by DBP's various divisions in Malay language planning and in the preparation of language tools such as terminology lists, software programmes, compilation of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and reading materials in the form of books, journals, and magazines on the latest in the field of education. All these resources in the Malay language produced by DBP staff are a great asset to students, academicians, researchers, translators, and foreigners. All of this updated information has been published by DBP in 2002 in a book written in the Malay language and there is also a bilingual version of the same book in Malay and English entitled, CITRA Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka (2002). This book can be obtained for free from DBP. The researcher has mentioned important aspects relating to this study in the next few pages which are directly taken from this book.

Equipped with the DBP Ordinance 1959, which entrusts it with promoting the national language in Malaysia, DBP declares its vision and mission to uphold Malay as one of the major languages of the world by the year 2020. This farsighted vision is enshrined in DBP's Philosophy, Mission, Motto, Objectives, Corporate Culture, and Clients' Charter

Philosophy of DBP

The philosophy of DBP is to build a Nation State through the Malay Language. The philosophy is a manifestation of DBP's tasks and methods of implementing its planned programmes and activities in an effort to establish the identity and to fortify the status of the Malay language as a vehicle of creativity and communication and of building a modern Malaysian civilization.

Mission of DBP

The mission of DBP is to develop Malay into a language of knowledge in the process of building a Nation State.

Motto of DBP

The motto of DBP is "Language is the Soul of the Nation".


Objectives of DBP

The objectives of DBP (CITRA 2002:11-13) are to:

  1. develop and enrich the national language in all fields, including science and technology
  2. promote literary talents especially in the national language
  3. print or publish or assist in the printing or publication of books, magazines, pamphlets, and other forms of literature in the national language as well as in other languages
  4. standardize the spelling, pronunciation and terminology in the national language
  5. encourage the correct use of the national language
  6. encourage the extensive use of the national language for all purposes, in accordance with the existing laws

Organisational Structure of DBP
(taken from CITRA DBP 2002: 6)

DBP is governed by a body known as the DBP Board of Control. The Board which was established under the DBP Ordinance 1959, formulates and implements policies aimed at achieving the objectives of the Institute.

The DBP Board of Control comprises the following members:

  1. a Chairman who is appointed by the Minister of Education
  2. the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Education
  3. the Director General of Education or his representative
  4. the Attorney General or his representative
  5. the Chief Secretary to the Treasury or his representative
  6. the Director General of Public Services Department or his representative
  7. a member appointed by the Council of Rulers
  8. ten members appointed by the Minister of Education

Each appointed member shall hold office for three years and is eligible for reappointment thereafter. The Education Minister in selecting members to sit on the Board can appoint whosoever in his opinion has knowledge and ability to make positive contributions towards the attainment of DBP's goals. The management and administration of DBP is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer—namely, the Director-General. The Board of Control shall be the sole coordination authority pertaining to the coining and standardizing of Malay terminologies.

DBP's organisational chart shows that the Director General heads all the branches of DBP in Malaysia. Under his jurisdiction are the Internal Audit Division and the Legal Affairs Unit. The Language, Literature, Publication, Malay Documentation Centre and Policy and Corporate Development Departments also come directly under the Director General and the Deputy Director General.

The Language Department comprises the following:

  1. Lexicography Division
  2. Public Sector Language Development Division
  3. Private Sector Language Development Division
  4. Language Research Division
  5. Terminology Division
  6. International Malay Language Development Division
  7. Language Publication Division

The Literature Department comprises the following:

  1. Modern Literature Division
  2. National Literary Division
  3. International Literary Development Division
  4. Traditional Literature Division
  5. Comparative Literature Division
  6. Literary Theory and Critic Division
  7. Literary Publication Division

The Publication Department comprises the following:

  1. Social Science and Humanities Division
  2. Islamic religion, philosophy and Civilization Division
  3. Magazine Division
  4. Encyclopedia Division
  5. Science and Technology Division
  6. Textbook Division
  7. Copyright Division
  8. Multimedia Division

The Publication Department with its eight divisions is important for the focus of my study as it deals with the publication of resources which are useful to translators for their translation tasks.

The Malay Documentation Centre is on its own with no divisions.

The Policy and Corporate Development Division comprises the following:

  1. The Corporate Communication Unit
  2. The Socio-Cultural and Welfare Unit

Branches in East Malaysia

In 1977, DBP extended its wings to East Malaysia, that is in Sabah and Sarawak

Branches in the Northern, Eastern and Southern Regions of West Malaysia

DBP opened its other branch offices in the Northern Region in Bukit Mertajam, Penang in 1999, the Eastern Region in Kota Bharu, Kelantan in 1999 and the Southern Region in Johor Bharu, Johore in 2000.

Services Provided by DBP

The services provided by DBP include translation courses, language planning and development, spreading the latest information on the Malay language via the on-line computerized terminology bank (Bikomta), having regional language cooperation for the development and enhancement of the Malay language corpus, standardization of the Malay language, the compilation and writing of the history of the Malay language, language codification through lexicography, and having a computerized Malay language database.

Coining of Terminology

Under this section, the researcher will give the viewpoints on how terminology is coined at DBP as given by Hasnah Mohamad, a Language Planning Officer in the terminology division in DBP.

The researcher e-mailed Hasnah Mohamad and asked her for the latest process involved in terminology coinage at DBP. In her e-mail to the researcher dated 7th May 2003, Hasnah (2003) gave the steps involved in the process of terminology coinage in the scientific and non-scientific fields, stating that the process is identical for the two. In short, the process as interpreted from Hasnah Mohamad's e-mail by the researcher is as follows:

  1. identify the source language term (whether in English or any other foreign language)
  2. find the meaning of the source language term and then find its equivalent term in the target language (Malay language) according to the following order of priorities:
    1. choose a term in standard Malay or, if it cannot be found, choose the term from any other Malay dialect
    2. if choice (a) above is not possible, then choose a term from the Malay language family for example from the Indonesian or Javanese languages
    3. if even (b) is not possible, then retain the source language term but modify its spelling according to the Guidelines for Malay Language Spelling which is published by DBP
    4. if choice (c) is not possible, the last choice is to borrow the term fully as it is in the source language without any change in spelling

According to Hasnah Mohamad, presently the process of terminology coinage involves a lot of translation work because of the low level of domestic innovation. She feels that presently we are still borrowing the source language terms and translating them. She suggests that if we can find a new tool, then we can give the Malay term immediately for processes, things etc. According to Hasnah Mohamad, DBP, with the help from authorities in Brunei and Indonesia, has published a book entitled Pedoman Umum Pembentukan Istilah Bahasa Melayu (1972) and she recommends it for further details on terminology coinage.


The researcher has discussed the two most important translation bodies in Malaysia, namely ITNMB and DBP. ITNMB is on its way to become endorsed as an accreditation board but up till today this dream has still not become a reality. Where translation is concerned, both these bodies have played a significant role in the field of translation in Malaysia.


_________________, ITNMB Brochure. 1995. Kuala Lumpur: ITNMB

_________________, ITNMB Brochure. 1995. Kuala Lumpur: ITNMB

_________________, CITRA Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. 2002. Kuala Lumpur: DBP