After spending nearly a year debating the meaning of terms like biodiversity conservation, and cultural eutrophication, a team of more than one dozen people has finished translating a 500-page environmental handbook from English into Khmer.
“The Khmer version of the book is crucial for educating the public,” said Tin Ponlok, who led the translation of the manual.
The book, “Environment Concepts and Issues: A Focus on Cambodia,” was compiled in English two years ago through the Environmental Technical Advisory Program, run by the UN Development Program.
The Khmer-language manual was prepared by the League of Khmer Students from Abroad along with the UN’s ETAP and the Ministry of Environment. Additional funding for the $10,000 project was provided by USAID and the Asia Foundation.
Twenty-five hundred copies of the book are being distributed to ministries, schools, libraries, NGOs and embassies.
The book is an overview of environmental concepts, from the structure of forest ecosystems to causes and effects of pollution. The information was supplemented with examples specific to Cambodia, including sections on the Mekong and the Tonle Sap lake, environmental effects of logging and coastal ecosystems.
Twenty people familiar with environmental issues helped with the Khmer translation, which took about a year. In some cases, terminology from the English-language manual could not be translated because there was no equivalent in Khmer.
Cultural eutrophication, for example, refers to the process by which nutrient levels and biological productivity increase over time, changing the plants that grow in and around the lake and the animals that live in it.
“Science is moving forward,” said Tin Ponlok, the former project coordinator of ETAP. “That is why translation of the technical terminology met with difficulty.”
The translators spent a large amount of time scanning Khmer dictionaries and debating the meanings of words before the final translations were agreed upon, Tin Ponlok said.