Linguistic Validation of a Tagalog
Filipino Translation

Linguistic validation of Tagalog and/or Filipino translations may only require the validator to have the natural ear for the language. The next requirement is that this same person must have the temperament to check Tagalog or Filipino with an almost obsessive compulsive eye for detail. But a foremost requirement is for the validator to have tons of patience with the client who demands an explanation for every translation decision.

A few curiousities in linguistic validation: A client would want to know

    Why one vocabulary is favored over the other

    Why a certain punctuation is absent in the target text while it is present in the source text.

    Why key terms vary all throughout, any variation has to be explained.

    Why the tenses of verbs don't exactly match.

    Why one word suddenly inserts itself in between a phrase that has been harmonized all through out.

The key word for the linguist who is into linguistic validation is "objectivity". The client asks all the above questions because of the language barrier. Linguistic validation somehow helps to ensure that the translation is

  • faithful to the source text
  • sounds natural in the target text
  • good to read and
  • doesn't sound like a translation.

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How to assess the quality of the text?

Obvious differences in two translations of the same text glare at the client and cause trepidation. Which translation is best when all the Tagalog/Filipino linguists hired to do the job are native speakers?

The key points below are commonly noted in a linguistic validation. A first reading of the whole text will give away the translator's preferences.

    Style The translation could either be "formal," "conversational," or "colloquial". The choices must be consistent with the translator's style. 
    Word order Generally, Tagalog word order is the reverse of the English word order.

    Phrasing or collocation Certain words go together naturally, that when one word is combined with another that isn't its natural "mate", both sound and meaning suffer

    Vocabulary. Both "itala" (record) and "isulat" (write) are non- exact equivalents of the source word "note" but the context of the source text may allow for either one of these terms.

    Spelling Many Tagalog/Filipino linguists take spelling forgranted and do not consult a common guide for spelling. A useful reference is Gabay sa Ispeling (Guide to Spelling) published by the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino (Center for Filipino Language).

    Decisions on Technical Terms Consistency must rule if the translator will retain the technical terms, create an equivalent with the source technical word in a bracket, or translate the meaning, that is, interpret it in the target text.

    Pauses Even Bible translation is guilty of copying even the pauses in the source text. But the target text has its own rhythm and thus, a comma in the source text maybe left out or find a different location in the target text.

    Other punctuation Hyphens always jump up the page. Why is a hyphen suddenly in the target text when there is no hyphen in the source? Let the target language's rules of spelling and punctuation apply here.

    Conjunctions and Joiners "And/or," "and," "or" are little details which when taken forgranted will at once change the meaning of the source text.

Objective comments in linguistic validation should take note of the key points above. It's easy to say that one translation sounds better than another, but linguists must also be able to say why.

(See Linguistic Validation for Filipinos who Claim they Don't Know Tagalog or Filipino)