[lg policy] Sri Lanka: Implementation of language policy gets a fillip

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 28 15:16:43 UTC 2011

Letter to editor:

Implementation of language policy gets a fillip

The official language policy of the government, that any person shall
be entitled to receive any document and transact business with any
government department in one of the languages of his choice, (Sinhala,
Tamil or English) evidently suffer due to the scarcity of competent
translators in the relevant languages.

All attempts by the authorities to recruit competent translators have
apparently not been successful. Even in the case of some officers, who
were recruited as translators, the quality of their translations seems
to be below expected standards judging by the syntax and grammatical
mistakes one sees in the English versions of some government notices
carried in the newspapers.

Translation is not a skill that one can acquire by the knowledge of a
language only. It is a talent that one has to acquire by long practice
and experience in the field. It is an art, one has to develop over

The Official Languages Department which oversees the implementation of
language policy, has adopted a novel idea to overcome the problem of
the dearth of translators. The department has created a pool of
translators (Sinhala, Tamil and English) whose services are now
available to the government departments and institutions for their
translation work. As this pool translators is scattered across the
country, the departments or other institutions would be able to avail
of their services without much difficulty.

Pool translators are not government servants as such, but they serve
under the supervision and direction of the Official Languages
Department. There is no doubt that this arrangement would greatly
facilitate the implementation of language policy in government
departments and institutions which hitherto was hampered due to lack
of competent translators.

P.G.A. Henry



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