Insights on Filipino and Tagalog, Trivia on Language and Culture
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men," Colossians 1:9-11
In September, Filipino publishers launched their latest books during the annual Bookfair. Among these books It's a Men's World by Beverly Siy, has been gaining popular appeal. In November the best books both by new and veteran Pinoy writers were recognized during the National Book Award celebration. One such book, Lumbay ng Dila by Genevieve Asenjo, won the National Book Award- Best First Novel in the Filipino Category.
Beverly Siy and Genevieve Asenjo both wrote their books in Filipino. Their books showcase their unique voices, with each author following her natural use of the language, and in the case of Ms. Asenjo, as she mixes Tagalog with Hiligaynon, her mother tongue.
It's a Men's World, a collection of coming-of-age-essays, is written in a kind of street-wise Filipino, one that is mostly spoken and heard among the young people belonging to the middle class. In her essays, Ms. Siy often spells her words as she spoke it, and she focuses on the pace of oral retelling by taking the limitations of prose for granted. Her language is frank, curt, loud, humorous and brave.
The language used in this collection of essays often shows a type of general Pinoy humor - ironic, sarcastic, and satirical, but nonchalant in spite of and especially during suffering.
"Noong bata ako, nanaginip akong umiihi sa inidoro. Paggising ko, basang-basa ang kama. Ang inidoro lang pala ang panaginip. Ang pag-ihi, real. (When I was a child, I dreamt that I was peeing in a toilet bowl. When I woke up, the bed was wet. The toilet bowl alone was a dream, the peeing was real.)
"Tumayo agad ako at tiningnan ang extent ng damage. Geographically, malala ang damage. Ka-hugis ng Quezon City ang mantsa ng ihi ko. Ang Quezon City lang naman ang pinakamalaking City sa buong Luzon. Kaya patay. Patay ako sa nanay ko. (I stood up at once and examined the extent of the damage. Geographically, damage was huge. The wet stain on the bed was the shape of Quezon City. By the way, Quezon City is the largest City in the whole of Luzon. I'm dead. My mother will kill me.)
"Pero dahil bata pa ay optimistic na talaga ako, lumingon ako sa brighter side. Sa bintana. Ayun naman pala, wala pang masyadong liwanag. Ibig sabihin, medyo gabi-gabi pa. Hindi ko alam ang saktong oras pero malamang ay nasa alas kuwatro pa lang 'yon ng madaling araw. Kasagsagan ng tulog ng sanlibutan pati ng nanay at tatay kong katabi naming apat na magkakapatid sa kama. (But I was young, so I was optimistic. I looked at the bright side, that is, outside the window. Ah, light had not yet dawned. This meant that it was still night time. I did not know the exact hour but it could be about 4:00 o'clock at dawn. The whole world was fast asleep including my mom and dad who slept beside us four siblings on one bed.)
"Ibig sabihin, tulog pa lahat at ako lang ang nakakaalam ng nagawa ko. (This meant that everybody was still sleeping and I alone knew what I did.)
"Pag nalaman ng nanay kong umihi ako sa kama namin, siguradong papaluin ako no'n ng tsinelas. E, okey lang sana kung tsinelas ko o tsinelas ng kapatid ko, o kaya sige na nga, kung tsinelas niya (kasi maliit ang nanay ko, wala pang five feet, e di anliit din ng paa noon, I therefore conclude, maliit din ang tsinelas) ang gagamitin sa di makatarungang ritwal ng pagpaparusa, e kaya lang ang ipampapalo ba naman ay tsinelas ng tatay ko? Barko sa laki at bigat ang tsinelas no'n. Alpombrang mala-Titanic." (If my mother will find out that I peed on our bed, she would surely spank me using slippers. it could turn out ok if she were to use my or my sibling's slippers, or ok, if she were to use her slippers (because my mother is small, not even five feet tall, her feet are small, I therefore conclude that her slippers would be small) in the unjust ritual of punishment, but unfortunately, what if she were to use my father's slippers? Those are huge and heavy. Rug-heavy of Titanic proportions.)
Unfortunately, similar to other languages when it comes to translating funny things, it's almost not possible to sound funny after translating Ms Siy's language.
"Kinuha ni Ate Elvie ang gunting. Parang ipinako sa krus ang mukha ni Auntie, uka-uka sa paghihirap ng loob. (Ate Elvie took hold of the scissors. She looked as if she was being crucified, her face had craters due to the heaviness of her heart)."
Lumbay ng Dila uses English as it naturally blends with Filipino. Ms. Asenjo is a professor of literature, a keen observer of popular culture, and a writer who is technologically savvy. Her use of the language demonstrates all these inclinations, and helps the reader become less weighted by the heavy bent of the book.
Ms. Asenjo's way with the language and her allusions and references to fads and trends are common in most so-called chick-lit novels in Filipino. But her theme is more than the usual Romance or girl- meets-boy story. Frequent switch-coding is a natural trend in Manila Tagalog. And being Ilongo, Ms. Asenjo's language is naturally remote from its pure Tagalog base.
The two novels are fast paced and reader friendly because the authors wrote Filipino as it is spoken now, especially in the Greater Manila area.
"Matagal siyang nakatulog nang gabing iyon. Nagpadala siya sa 2381 ng HSBC CC para i-tsek ang kanyang outstanding balance. Naisip niyang i-shopping ito. Blusa kaya o sandal tulad ng nasa wishlist ni Nene. Kumbaga bonding nila. Pagkatapos kakain sila at magkukuwentuhan. Naisip niya rin na bigyan ito ng cash. Limang libo. Ilalagay niya ito sa sobre saka i-aabot sa kanilang paghihiwalay. Totoo iyon sa loob niya. Hindi bilang pangungunsiyensiya. (She slept long that night. She sent a message to 2381 HSBC CC to check her outstanding balance. She thought about using it for shopping, to buy a blouse or sandals as listed in Nene's wishlist. This could serve as their bonding time together. After that, they would eat out and talk. She thought about giving Nene some cash. Five thousand pesos. She would place this in an envelope and she would give it to her when they leave. She was sincere about this. She was not doing this to make her feel bad).
"Nahihiya sa sarili. Natatalo ang kanyang dungan ang kanyang animo. Papalapit pa lamang siya, kampante nang nakaupo si Teresa sa sulok na ito ng Jollibee at pinagmamasdan siya. May pagkamangha sa mga mata-isang pagmamalaki. Pakiramdam niya tuloy, nagka-catwalk siya sa runway ng Bench. Nasisiguro ng babae, sa nag-aabang nitong ngiti at palad, na siya nga si Sadyah, ang kanyang anak. (She was ashamed of herself. Her spirit was not strong. She was approaching, Teresa had been calmly sitting in that corner of Jollibee and she was looking at her. Her eyes showed awe and pride. Thus, she felt that she was on a catwalk on a Bench runway. The woman was confident, as her eager smile and handshake showed, that indeed, she, Sadyah, was her child.)
"Hindi siya dapat patalo. Hindi bagay ang 'emo face' sa kanyang platform sandal, skinny jeans, MANGO top at ethnic-inspired bling-bling. Nakalimutan na niya ang huling serye ng telenobela na napanood niya kasama ang pamilya ni Nene. Ayaw niyang alalahanin si Claudine Barretto sa "Anak" nila ni Vilma Santos. Si Angel Locsin ngayon ang laman ng tabloids at Entertainment pages ng mga diyaryo at hindi ito sumikat sa pag-iyak kundi sa kanyang kaseksihan sa pagsigaw ng "Darna". (She should not let herself be defeated. An emo face did not match her platform sandals, skinny jeans, MANGO top and ethnic-inspired bling. She had forgotten the last episode in the television soap series she watched with Nene's family. She did not like to remember Claudine Barretto who was Vilma Santos' daughter in "Anak". It's Angel Locsin's turn in the tabloids and Entertainment pages of newspapers and Angel did not become famous by crying, but by shouting "Darna" in a sexy manner.)
PITAK NG FILIPINO
As in other cultures, we show our unique traits as a people in our language. Past and present influences have molded our tongues and fueled the dynamics of our day to day relations. Today, we feature some of our personal discoveries:
As we process words and language, linguistic problems occur. Fortunately, there are a number of sources we find extremely helpful. We would like to share some of the lessons
we learned through the articles below.
Word for Word
Tagalog Word Order
Clearly, a tested guide to a faithful and accurate translation is a sensitivity to the nuances of the language. If the linguists know the technical rationale for their choices, they can defend their choices objectively. But love and passion for the language will also drive the linguists toward the best sources for applied linguistics.
"Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda." Jose Rizal
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