A Philippine Language Style Check

Before translating English into a Philippine language, four major questions need to be asked: One – Who will be the primary users of the translation? Two – Where are they located? Answers to these first two questions will already help determine both the choice of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. But there are two other considerations – three: How exposed to the language are these primary readers? Do they belong to a sub-group (example of specific groups of readers: elderly, youth, children, NGO workers, blue collar employees, highly educated domestic helpers who are all over the world, factory workers, job seekers)? And four: Do they speak another Philippine language other than their native Tagalog, or Cebuano, or Ilocano etc? Consistency of language will depend on answers to these four concerns.

What Will Ensure Consistency in the Use of a Philippine Language?

As there is a King’s English, Standard English, and Colloquial English, Any Philippine language also has sets of vocabulary for formal, conversational, technical and colloquial or street speech. Understanding when, where, and how these forms are used will help the translation to be consistent.

Assuming that answers to the four questions above are not given, the translator must set up a a style sheet for consistency. This ideal assumes that the translator:

  • has a wide range of sources for vocabulary: The translators tap their stock knowledge and consult, if needed, various literatures such as popular comics, tabloids, gossip magazines, Liwayway, novels, short stories and poetry published once in a while in some newspapers. Also, listen to the primetime newscasts and watch box office movies and popular soap operas.
  • listens to dialect patterns: The translator has the confidence to say: "This sounds awkward." His "ear" for the language will serve as the final determinant for the rightness or wrongness of the translation of problem texts.
  • always checks the tone: The unwritten rule is to stay faithful to the tone of the source text but this is not often easy. However translation decisions - for example, in changing idioms to non-idioms or in finding out an equivalent idiom from the target culture, or in translating the idiom in the source text literally - will have to consider this aspect.
  • always checks fidelity of the target text to the source text. A major Philippine language, Tagalog is used in many parts of the world. Variations are as many as the locations of the users.

Tagalog is a major Philippine language. We write in, edit and translate intoTagalog.