Tagalog Word Order in Speaking and Writing Tagalog/Filipino

The Tagalog word order used in translating English to Tagalog is affected by at least four factors:

  • the perceived or expressed target users of the translation
  • the nature/genre of the text
  • the orientation of the translator
  • the English used in the source
  • the deadline

Target users  should be classified according to age, gender, civil status, residence, work or profession, income, health and family. But when these are merely perceived, there is a chance that translators will opt for the safest route, that is, a text transfer that is too faithful even to the word order of the English text. 

  • The text in the 2nd column of the pdf file below cares more about literal accuracy than it does about user comprehensibility. It is source oriented
  • Meanwhile, the text in the 3rd column has given the reader considerable thought, thus it is target oriented - note the Tagalog word order. 
  • These two types also show the differences between literal and idiomatic translations.

Tagalog Word Order Shows Style of Translation

Source oriented translation aims for a literal transfer. Literal here means not deviating much from the style elements of the source text, even its segmentation and punctuation. 

Target oriented translation aims for maximum readability and impact. Thus, it uses the style elements of the target language, its grammar, cultural register, and age appropriate diction.

The nature/genre of the text. Doing a target oriented translation needs more time, especially for literary texts, educational materials, health surveys, religious literature, and general self-help manuals.  See a translation of a short story for children.

Orientation of the Translator. The translator may come from any part of the Tagalog region. This will definitely affect the translation. But more important is whether the translator is a native speaker who is skilled in translation, or a translator by happenstance. The attitude of the translator towards translation will also affect the quality of the translation. A professional approach to translation will be careful to consider the end target users.

English used in the source text. There are as many variations of English as there are countries in the world using it. So there is a chance that Asian-English may already reflect the linguistic patterns of the Asian language. 

The deadline. Working late and beating a deadline, a translator may find no time in editing his or her translation. Unfortunately, there will be no time to check Tagalog word order and the result is a poor quality translation.

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