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Youth of the week: Tep Sovichet

With a desire to preserve the Khmer language and a love for information technology, Tep Sovichet, a grade 10 student at Santor Mok high school, cannot wait to get involved in translating software and computer programmes from English to Khmer.

Since there are not many programmes or software available in Khmer, Tep Sovichet spends most of his free time translating programmes alone and learning by himself via the internet.

“I feel ashamed that neighbouring countries like Thailand and Vietnam have a lot of software and computer programmes in their languages and I wanted to see Khmer language software and computer programmes as well,” he said.

“When I surfed the internet, I saw websites which provided software and computer programmes for people wanting to translate. I asked for permission from them,” he said, adding that he started translating small programmes and posted them on his blog. People then became interested in his work and he decided to organise a group and invite people to join.

Even though he was only 15 years old, he started a group called Khmer Volunteer Translators Team, or KVTT, in October last year with 11 members. Tep Sovichet, the youngest of the group and the team leader, said team members contact each other and share tasks through emails, since most of them are busy working in Cambodia or pursuing their studies abroad.  

“We ask permission from the owner of the programmes if we can translate those programmes into Khmer,” he said. “After translating, we post them on our group blog and send them to the owner to include them into their programme.”

Since the establishment of the group, KVTT has translated about five programmes such as Network Traffic Monitor (NTM), Skype on Linux and Opera 10.6.

Tep Sovichet said it is just the beginning for the team and the programmes are available free on his group’s blog, Khmer Language Package for Software. Up to 40 people have downloaded some of the programmes. “Many people support and admire our work. They post comments on our blogs and they get our programmes downloaded and use them,” he said.

Although it is volunteer work and he is busy with his studies at school, Tep Sovichet always finds time for his group’s translation work. They all have the same goal, which is to have more software and computer programmes accessible for Cambodians.

“Some people who are not good at English will be able to access to these programmes. Also, they will help those who are living in rural areas or the provinces where not much English is spoken,” he said.

Tep Sovichet also told Lift about the difficulties with translations. “It is difficult to translate the terminology of technology and sometimes I have to check the words from English to Khmer, check the Choun Nat dictionary in Khmer and post the word on our Facebook group’s discussion page to ask for comments from other people who are knowledgeable of Khmer.”

Besides working with his group, Tep Sovichet, who has been obsessed with computers and technology since he was eight or nine years old, always attends conferences, seminars and meeting related to information technology. “Going to technology events, I can meet and know more people working in the technology industry and get more knowledge out of it,” he said.

He has also helped his friends like Thim Chanrithy, one of Lift’s youths of the week, who is creating software or programmes and doing translating, decoding and websites.

In the future, Tep Sovichet wants to pursue his studies in IT and Khmer Literature in order to translate and create more programmes in Khmer, which will contribute to the development of the technology sector in Cambodia.

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