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Issues and techniques in translating scientific terms from English to Khmer for a university-level text in Cambodia
Language, Culture and Curriculum
  • Cassie F. Quigley, Clemson University
  • Alandeom W Oliviera, State University of New York
  • Alistair Curry, Royal University of Phnom Penh
  • Gayle Buck, Indiana University - Bloomington
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Taylor & Francis
Teachers and students spend much time interacting with written resources such as textbooks, tests, or worksheets during classroom instruction. What if no text is available, however, in the language of the learners? This case study describes the processes and techniques adopted by two university lecturers in Cambodia, as they translated an L1 (first language) science text into Khmer in a manner that tried to take full account of the cultural, linguistic, and social dimensions of language. Using a variety of translation techniques, they aimed to produce a Khmer text which would be most effective in promoting the learning of the new scientific terms required. Among the approaches used were the employment of English–Khmer word pairs, repetition throughout the text, and the incorporation of pictures where appropriate. The significance of this study is that it provides detailed and specific examples of how teachers and lecturers might respond to the challenges of translating scientific texts into languages that have not been extensively used as a medium of instruction at third level in recent times. It is hoped that it will also make some contribution to the larger effort to promote and restore native languages to their rightful place in education in post-colonial countries.

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