Alternative futures for a National Institute of Translation

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Governments, worldwide, face a paradoxical situation. National development depends on reliable information (often only initially available in a foreign language) but there are, normally, no mechanisms in place for assessing the quality of translated and interpreted information. The response has frequently been to attempt to control the typically chaotic market through a state-appointed regulator with power to accredit training programmes and monitor both the suitability of the product and the behaviour of the service providers. Malaysia has had such a <i>de jure </i>regulator – the Malaysia National Institute of Translation – since 1993 but progress towards <i>de facto </i>regulation and control has been slow. In this paper use is made of “systems thinking” to describe the Institute as a problematic “human activity system” moving uncertainly towards a number of as yet ill-defined alternative futures which are evaluated and used as a source of suggestions for improving the present problem situation.


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