Tagalog Interpreter in the Marketplace

A Tagalog interpreter may be needed in situations such as

·         A product launch

·         A focus group discussion

·         A survey in urban poor areas

·         A court hearing

·         A business meeting

·         A seminar

·         A negotiation with law enforcers

·         A travel tour

We have seen films starring interpreters in the international scene. How we romanticize their jobs! Those interpreters are portrayed as witty and cautious professionals whose objectivity can make themselves disappear, even though they are eternally present.  They have an exciting job routine and fast-paced lives, very different from the usual translator's eight-to-five desk work. Their lives are stressful, but exciting.

Indeed they are masters of their game, fully living up to their roles as bridges of communication. On-call at all times even on emergency, they are extremely fluent in both source and target languages. They have mastery not only of the language's grammar and syntax, but also of the cultural nuance and how words and phrases register in everyday conversation.


In the Tagalog example below, the polite nuance of the language has not been completely captured in the interpretation. While the plural pronouns (kayo [you], atin [ours], inyo [yours], tayo [us/we]... in Filipino does not necessarily mean that more than one person is being referred to, the English do have this plural meaning. Failing to catch this polite nuance, however, does not mean that the interpretation has failed. What happens here is what is referred to as “lost in translation”. What is lost in translation is merely the polite nuance of the language.

Conversely, in interpreting English a Filipino interpreter will aim at accuracy of meaning, but will not always be able to catch the idiomatic nuance. The example below shows how meaning is not compromised, and the idiomatic tone is somehow maintained. However, the back translation delivers a different tone and style.


Filipinos boast of their proficiency in the English language, but much has been written about Filipino-English that says otherwise. Yet, if your knowledge of the English language comes mainly from Philippine schools which teach English from kindergarten to college, you have a good base indeed, but you may need more exposure.  If you have used English where it is naturally spoken – the USA, Australia, Canada, or London, this is a big plus in your career.

On the job, you as the interpreter may need enough orientation regarding the event or situation where interpreting will happen. When, where, and who is being addressed factor in interpreting, that a word-for-word approach is never the norm.

You must learn about the main receivers or audience in order to get the message accross.  Know the person you will interpret and listen beforehand to the speeches he made in the past if these are available. Also, if available, books or pamphlets written by the speaker may hint at the speaker’s voice. Knowing the voice that is consistently upheld by the speaker may help you to anticipate mannerisms in his expressions.

Tagalog may sometimes give long equivalents, but it does have exact matches for many English idioms – not literal translations – that give their exact meaning in a dynamic sense. It is important to catch the nuance of every word, phrase and sentence even from the tone and in the rise and fall of the voice. 

You will have fun discovering exact idiomatic equivalents that will naturally come out as the interpretation happens. More than a technical task, bridging the language gap through interpretation has become even more relevant in this global setting, where people can get drowned in a deluge of words.