Book translation critical to knowledge transfer

Jan Gehl, renowned architect and author of ‘Cities for People’, congratulating Universiti Malaya Press for the launch of the translation of the book through pre-recorded video.
By Rozana Sani - October 2, 2019 @ 1:40pm

TRANSLATION of works from foreign languages into Bahasa Malaysia is key in knowledge transfer efforts, especially in academia.

Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim said in the pursuit of national development, it was impossible to produce adequate resources and material, whether academia or general in nature, in a speedy manner.

Speaking at the launch of the translated work of renowned architect and author Jan Gehl, Cities for People, into Bahasa Malaysia by the University of Malaya Press (UMP), he said UMP’s commitment to adhere to the highest standards in academic publishing and its duty of disseminating the work of researchers and specialists to the general public was commendable and necessary.

Referring to its role in publishing, Abdul Rahim said: “Besides its apparent focus on academic works, UMP’s interests are also in publications that contribute to the understanding of issues that affect the local and international community.

“It also seeks to champion the arts and the environment through its publications,” he said, adding that such efforts will continue to be a priority for the university and UMP.

The launch of the book was officiated by UM pro-chancellor Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong.

Gehl is an architect from Copenhagen, Denmark, and a former professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts who studied the architectural design structure of cities for more than 50 years.

Cities for People had been translated into 38 languages in the last nine years. The book, titled Bandar Mesra Manusia in Bahasa Malaysia, presents an approach to creating a human-friendly city and it also explains the methods and tools used to reconfigure the city scene.

During the ceremony, Gehl congratulated UMP for the launch of the translated book via a pre-recorded video.

In a separate interview, UMP director Adam Wong Abdullah said UMP, the oldest university press in Malaysia, which was founded in 1954, publishes a mix of about 40 Bahasa Malaysia and English language titles a year.

It has a backlist of more than 1000 titles, most of which are available in physical or electronic form locally and internationally. Since 2012, it has amassed 18 publishing awards.

“Although it is seldom articulated, UMP plays an important role in the branding of the university. Our publications are scholarly communication that brings Universiti Malaya into the minds and hearts of academics, scholars and researchers as every book that is sold or ‘discovered’ reflects the excellence and commitment of the university,” said Adam.

He said titles selected for translation into Bahasa Malaysia must meet certain criteria.

“Not all our translation projects are academic in nature. The significance and impact of the work on local society is the main consideration. Questions, such as how will it help Malaysians understand the subject better, what will it contribute to the conservation of a particular matter, will a translation in Bahasa Malaysia enrich or cultivate more thinking, should be satisfactorily answered before we embark on these projects.”

He said translations were almost always costly affairs, and being a university press, UMP needed to work very strictly with available funds.

“We draw our translators from within the university or other academic institutions. For academic works, those assigned are required to be experts in the same field. A language editor is then assigned to look into the readability of the translation,” Adam said.

In the 1970s, he said UMP translated and published, in what was probably the first of its kind, Shakespeare’s plays into Bahasa Malaysia.

In recent years, it has endeavoured to translate and publish important works in areas of public interest or specialisation. Among the books published are: Panduan Penjagaan dan Pengunaan Haiwan Makmal, translated from the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. This is a compulsory reference for institutions that do research involving lab animals.

Buku Panduan Galas Datar, translated from Handbook of Plain Bearings, a technical book for automotive students

“Bandar Mesra Manusia, translated from Cities for People, is regarded the guide on town planning,” said Adam.

Some translations in the pipeline include Creative Dance, a source for teaching dance to children, and two other publications from Spanish to Malay.

By Rozana Sani.

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