Old Tagalog or Filipino

Old Tagalog, ancient Tagalog, deep Tagalog, all these for words and expressions this generation finds "weird", "uncool", or simply "Greek". In the Philippines, there are more students in public schools than in private schools. But if students in private schools are the target users of English to Tagalog translation, an orientation is at hand. Students in private schools speak more English than the average public school student.

Most teenagers studying in well-funded institutions use accessible stream players to watch their favorite Hollywood sci-fi films, American or British television series, interactive Japanese anime, and the most recent game. Recently, "Korea-novelas" dubbed in Filipino have become popular, but this TV fare has a niche audience.

Curiously, when studying Filipino, most students request their tutors or mentors to translate into English. For example, in learning about "Panghalip" a student sometimes learns more easily if told that this means "Pronoun."  

Private tutors make the mentoring student friendly when they give in and translate lessons into English whenever necessary. While they can resort to this informal back translation in teaching concepts, they will find it difficult to translate vocabulary or concepts, say, from Tagalog literature. 

In their subject "Filipino", students are routinely assigned to read and do exercises using books such as Florante at Laura and Ibong Adarna. These two are Tagalog epic poems written at the time of the Spanish occupation. As they are both poetry, the words become even more challenging. Teens meet their teacher's assignments with grudging compliance, after all, outside the classroom they speak a kind of "techno-cono" Taglish.

Of course, the rich, old Tagalog in these epics needs to be appreciated, but parents and tutors have probably forgotten Florante at Laura, and their only clue about Ibong Adarna is the old local movie starring the late Filipino comedy king, Dolphy.

A way to make kids appreciate
old Tagalog or Filipino

In the five stanzas here from Florante at Laura, any teen ager will identify at least ten or more words which he does not understand. He will frown when he reads this and become completely detached and bored.  But with an informal translation into Filipino and a tip in appreciating the music of Filipino poetry, his eyes can be opened, and he will have more fun with his subject.

Sa loob at labás, n~g bayan cong sauî/caliluha,i, siyang nangyayaring harî/cagalin~ga,t, bait ay nalulugamî/ininís sa hucay nang dusa,t, pighatî.

Sa loob at labas ng bayan kong sawi/ kaliluhay siyang nangyayaring hari/ kagalinga't bait ay nalulugami/ ininis sa hukay ng dusa't pighati.

Ang magandang asal ay ipinupucólsa láot n~g dagat n~g cut-ya,t, lingatongbalang magagalíng ay ibinabaónat inalilibing na ualáng cabaong.

Ang magandang asal ay ipinupukol/ sa laot ng dagat ng kutya't linggatong/ balang magagaling ay ibinabaon/ at inililibing na walang kabaong.

N~guni, ay ang lilo,t, masasamang loóbsa trono n~g puri ay inaluluclocat sa balang sucáb na may asal hayopmaban~gong incienso ang isinusuob.

Ngunit ay ang lilo't masasamang loob/ sa trono ng puri ay iniluluklok/ at sa balang sukab na may asal hayop/ mabanngong insenso ang isinusuob.

Caliluha,t, sama ang úlo,i, nagtayôat ang cabaita,i, quimi,t, nacayucô,santong catouira,i, lugamì at hapô,ang lúha na lamang ang pinatutulô.

Kaliluha't sama ang ulo'y nagtayo/ at ang kabaita'y kimi't nakayuko/ santong katuwira'y lugami at hapo,/ ang luha na lamang ang pinatutulo.

At ang balang bibíg na binubucalánnang sabing magalíng at catutuhananagád binibiác at sinisican~gannang cáliz n~g lalong dustáng camatayan.

At ang balang bibig na binubukalan/ nang sabing magaling at katotohanan/agad binibiyak at sinisisikan/ ganang inaalis dustang kamatayan.

¡O tacsíl na pita sa yama,t, mataás!¡o hangad sa puring hanging lumilipas!icao ang dahilan n~g casamáng lahat at niyaring nasapit na cahabághabág.

O taksil na pita sa yama't mataas/ o hangad sa puring hanging lumilipas/ ikaw ang dahilan ng kasamang lahat/ at niyaring nasapit na kahabag-habag.

In translating literature for children and teens belonging to the upper middle class, translators may not always use old Tagalog words, for example, not "upang" but "para" (for); not "subali't" but "pero" (but); not "maaari" but "puwede" (can); not "lilisan" but "aalis" (to leave); not "pinid" but "sara" (close). This does not mean that the "old Tagalog" cannot be used at all, but rather, it must be used discriminately. 

When the target user is identified, translators must seek to use the language that will cater to that specific user. Simply doing the language transfer with an indifferent attitude towards the limitations of the target user will defeat the purpose of translation.