The translator status, the translation market and developing economies: A preliminary study of ASEAN countries

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2013.864441
Author(s): Andy Lung Jan ChanTranslation Section, Division of Languages and Communication,, Christy Fung Ming LiuSchool of Arts and Social Sciences,


The sociological turn in translation studies has called for more research into the actors involved in the translation process and wider contexts of translation qua social activity. Methods from various social sciences have been adopted and adapted to shed light on this relatively uncharted territory. This is a preliminary study into the relationship between the translator status, the translation market and a nation's economic development. This article is an attempt to examine the sociology of translation in the development context of ten countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). The study concentrates on the insider view: the quantitative and qualitative data were collected with the help of questionnaires from translators, interpreters and other translation-related professionals. Our results show that these actors see the translation market as more developed than is commonly believed, but the status of translators as still quite low. The absence of a certification system and of a standard practice is hardly beneficial both for the development of the translation industry and translators themselves in this economically vibrant region where globalisation is believed to have led to increased demand for translation. However, the effects of regional integration on the translation market remain unclear, as far as the insiders of the translation space are concerned.

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