English to Filipino Clues

English to Filipino Clues in Translation 

Techniques for finding the referential meaning of a series of related words

  • Semantic structures - Chains (one, two, three, four, five…)
  • So few sets of words exhibit this relationship (Hierarchies: bear, mammal, animal)
  • Same hierarchical level (peace: tranquility; medicine man: witch doctor)
  • Subordinate level (sin: adultery; good: generous)
  • Superordinate (thing, object, it) i.e., they substitute for thousands of other words. 
  • (Componential plotting (son is to daughter, nephew is to niece)

Referential and Emotive meanings

Three ways to describe domains of referential meaning

1.By identifying the internal content of a domain: 

         Either by listing the referents in question or defining the necessary and sufficient features which will include the referents in question

2.By contrasting the domain of one word with that of others: 

         Defines the boarders between this and other semantically contiguous symbols

3.By showing the extent to which the area of a particular word may be shared by other words: 

         That is, by listing synonyms-in fact this last method is a blend of the first two methods.

Description of domains

•Two levels

One may deal with groups of related words 

         - Numerals, color words, kinship terms

One must also deal with individual words which does not have any structured relationship to other terms

         - Sun, house, grass, stick

General features of hierarchical structuring

1.  As one ascends the hierarchical structure the terms generally become fewer and the domains larger.

2.  The same word may occur on different levels: it may have a more particular as well as  a more general meaning: 

         “Animal” low level substitute if it includes wolf, sheep, dog, cat; but may also substitute for much wider class of creatures, including man, fish, and birds. General substitute – animal, vegetable, mineral.

3. The identity of domains, both in terms of extent and level, determines to some extent the degree of synonymity between words.

Problem in deciding on the linguistic meaning because the source text is ambiguous

  • Chicquita Jean Hood, nicknamed “Chickie” was born in rural Alabama and was raised on a small farm. (does this mean that the means of living was by small-time farming or does this mean that she grew up in a farm?)                      

                Si Chicquita Jean Hood, may palayaw na “Chickie,” ay ipinanganak sa probinsya ng Alabama at pinalaki siyang napapaligiran ng maliit na bukirin.   

  • Chicquita Jean Hood, nicknamed “Chickie” was born in the province of Alabama and she was raised [in a place-implied] surrounded by  small farm (but this translation does not say that the means of living is by small-time farming).

semantic field

  • Hated by their neighbors, and freezing and dying in the mountains, the Kurds needed friends.

          Does this mean those whose house are near their house (kapit-bahay)

          Does this mean neighboring villages (kalapit-bayan)

  • Neighbors (consider the semantic field): love thy neighbor (fellow man); thy neighbor’s wife (wife of another person – not necessary living near you); neighbor countries (for Philippines: Japan, China, Indonesia, Australia etc); neighbor facilities (facilities which can be found in the nearest outlet)

exploring contrasts in the semantic field

  • Chickie knew that Jesus was the Lord of her life, and he had the right to interrupt her life and change her plans.   Interrupt  - cut/block/= negative

               Exploring the semantic field will yield meanings such as: 

He will cut her life’s natural flow

He will block her life’s natural flow

»Which doesn’t give a full meaning; but only part of it. The implied meaning is that He had the right to “be in control” (the linguistic hint is in – “change her plans”)

         Control – be in charge/ be on the lead/ have the say = positive

  • Alam ni Chickie na si Jesus ang Panginoon ng kanyang buhay, at may karapatan Siyang pangunahan ang kanyang buhay at palitan ang kanyang mga plano. (pangunahan – to be on the lead)

Linguistic Clusters

  • Her sister says, “She was always laughing and pulling practical jokes.”

         What is meant by the cluster: “practical joke”?

         Do you absolutely need the word “practical” in Tagalog?

         Does an exact equivalent exist?

  • Literal equivalent : praktikal na biro (doesn’t make sense in our language-how is biro(joke) practical? In our culture, we just joke – green, practical, or bad – the activity is called “joking” (nagbibiro)

         In Tagalog this was translated as : She was always laughing and joking.  

  • Her life was safe and secure.

Almost a cliché in English

Both words mean one thing only – safe from danger; or secure from danger

Both words transfer in the same word “ligtas

So “ ligtas at ligtas

  • Solution: interpret the other term to vary the linguistic structure and eliminate redundancy at the same time, approximate the tone: ligtas at malayo sa kapahamakan (safe and far from danger)

Advantage: a greater facility whereby ambiguous expression can be analyzed

  • He hit the man with a stick

Kernel 1: he hit the man and he hit with a stick

Kernel 2: he hit the man and the man had a stick

  • Fat major’s wife (this same transformation is a result of two kernels of expression; which expression is the meaning then?)

Kernel 1: the fat major has a wife

Kernel 2: the major has a fat wife

Steps in “decomposition and recomposition”

1.Analyze the source language expression in terms of the basic kernel sentences and transforms required to produce the utterance, while adding all implicit objects, events, abstracts or relationships which are required by the processes of transformation.

2.Transfer the kernel forms of the source language to the equivalent kernel forms for the receptor language.

3.Transform the kernel utterances of the receptor language into the stylistically appropriate expressions.

object; action; event; goal jumble

  • It is my purpose in writing this book, that a new generation of young people would be challenged and inspired to become a friend to Muslims, bringing God’s blessing to them through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

–That a new generation of young people

–Would be challenged and inspired

–To become a friend to the Muslims

–Bringing God’s blessing to them

  • Layunin ko sa pagsusulat ng aklat na ito na hamunin at bigyan ng inspirasyon ang bagong henerasyon ng mga kabataan na makipagkaibigan sa mga Muslim, maging tagapagdala ng biyaya ng Diyos sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mabuting balita ni Jesu-Cristo.

–Ang bagong henerasyon ng mga kabataan

–Hamunin at bigyan ng inspirasyon ang bagong henerasyon

–Makipagkaibigan sa mga Muslim

–Maging tagapagdala ng biyaya ng Diyos sa kanila


  • The world was preparing for war.  Iraq had invaded her neighbor country, Kuwait.  The world could not and would not sit by and do nothing. However, three years before, the world either ignored or did not know about a greater tragedy than the invasion of Kuwait.

–Gayunman, tatlong taon bago ito mangyari, walang alam ang mundo o hindi nito pinapansin ang mas masaklap na trahedya kaysa sa pagsakop sa bansang Kuwait.

–Tatlong taon bago ito mangyari – three years before this happened

–Nang nakaraang tatlong taon – in the past three years (literal equivalent is vague and awkward when used unless the linguistic context is stretched, that is, nang nakaraang tatlong taon bago ito mangyari – in the past three years before this happened)