English to Tagalog,
Tagalog to English,
how faithful to the original text?

Translation from Tagalog to English almost always involves a non-native speaker of English who knows, uses and is fluent in English. Tapping expats who have lived long in the country and are probably well-versed in Tagalog is probably best if such expats have also practiced the nuances of the native language.

But if you are not that picky and are pressed for deadline, the first freelancer who assures you that she can deliver Tagalog to English fast can be "it" for you. Outsource to a back translator who takes time explaining his choices. A quick way to explain choices is by using a grid template. Clients may provide their own grid or the BT can create his own template.



What's in a Tagalog to English Grid?

The translation grid is a style sheet of phrases which go together naturally, a listing of idiomatic expressions and choices in prefixing for example, in the case of verbs.

The translation grid may offer translations for words retained in English. More Tagalog readers use English especially in regards to technical and medical documents. After all, the medical schools never use Tagalog text books. But it's good practice to exhaust the equivalents.

The translation grid points out variations in spellings. Sometimes, the translator tries too hard to "Filipinize" a technical term to the point of vagueness.

The translation grid may refer the client to the sources consulted. Most freelance technical translators are not IT experts or lawyers, or electrical engineers, or medical practitioners, or woodworking experts. They bid on a job order because they are confident that since they speak and write Tagalog, all they need is a dictionary. But jargon do play an important role in technical translation. And only the experts in their fields know the vocabulary of their disciplines.

If the translation is in natural and idiomatic Tagalog. it will definitely not reflect the source literally, but a good back translation will show if the translation has or has not retained the meanings faithfully.



The translation grid should point out visual orientation in tagalog to english translation. For example, the word "lawn" (source text original), which in English conjures up an image of a front yard with manicured grass and maybe some flowering plants, is common only among the upper middle class and rich people, at least in this country. But the translator will definitely translate it to either "front" or "backyards."

(In the provinces, yards are normally lush with all sorts of shrubs and trees and vegetables and non-flowering plants and wild grass here and there. Chickens probably roam around, and sometimes goats are tied onto one of the trees!)

So do not expect "lawn" to always come up in the back translation unless the translator retained the word "lawn" or if he or she employed the "amplified translation" which is a combination of words that interprets lawn. "Harapang may bermuda" (front yard with bermuda grass).

Back translation from Tagalog to English is a device to check the accuracy of the final translation. And yet, a lot will be missed. For this reason, it is good to send a Tagalog to English stylesheet with your back translation.

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