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Microsoft translation project to tackle business jargon

American software giant Microsoft announced yesterday that it would jointly implement a project with Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce to create a translation program to simplify complex English and Khmer business terminology in order to help businesses better understand commonly used jargon.

The program, dubbed Translator-Hub Khmer, will act as a data centre to store translation information while making it easily accessible to local software developers looking to optimise specific terminology and translation services.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday between Sok Sopheak, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce and Tan Bin Ru, small and midmarket solution provider for Microsoft South East Asia.

Speaking at the event, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said Translator-Hub Khmer, which will translate English to Khmer and vice-versa, would help overcome language barriers.

“We give priority on translating terminology that is used in business activities,” he said, adding that other terminology-specific sectors, such as law, science and health, would come later.

Neither the Ministry of Commerce nor Microsoft representatives could confirm a set timeline for implementation, adding that it could take up to a year to build an adequate database.

However, according to the MoU, the Commerce Ministry will upload at least 100,000 parallel sentences and phrases in both languages, and will work in tandem with students and teachers from the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP) to verify accuracy.

Michelle Simmons, general manager of Southeast Asia New Markets at Microsoft Asia Pacific, said that the company will provide onsite training workshops to help teach how to upload Khmer phrases while also training software programmers.

“Our mission is to empower every person and organisation to achieve more, and we believe that our collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce will strengthen ICT as pillar of Cambodia development and competitiveness,” she said.

Uy Meng, general manager of Perfect Translation Services, said technical terminology in business and law has been a major challenge for translators as it is difficult to find definitive meanings in both languages.

“I think it will be a great help to have a specific system to follow when translating technical terms,” he said.

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