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Balitang Tagalog Bilang Apat
November 30, 2008

Insights on Filipino and Tagalog, Pinoy trivia, and Updates on the most recent job orders.

(Think Tagalog)

Verbs and Emphasis

AY or ANG?
From mid July up to the first week of October this year, I edited a Tagalog learning module. I checked translations of sentences such as: Umiinom ang batang lalaki (the boy is drinking); Lumalangoy ang batang babae (the girl is swimming); Tumatakbo sa labas ang lalaki (the man is running outside); Kumakain sa loob ang babae (the woman is eating inside) - and so on. At the outset, the task looked easy and simple enough. I didn't think that there would be any complicated translation issues. Besides, since the client paid me per logged hours, I did not have time to linger long on an issue. Every problem had to be solved within the hour that I met it, even if there was a panel of reviewers who could always overwrite any decision I made. How I wished that there was only one equivalent for every source English text. But as usual, I came face to face with many issues commonly experienced in English-to-Tagalog translation.

One such issue affected emphasis and word order. "Should we use the ay sentence construction or the ang sentence construction? [I labeled this issue as such for easier communication with the American counterparts] "The girl is swimming" (Lumalangoy ang bata) can also translate to "Ang bata ay lumalangoy; Ang bata ay naglalangoy (variant); Ang bata ay nalangoy (dialect)." They gave us the go-signal to use the most natural conversational equivalent (and specifically, to use Manila Tagalog) so this somehow lessened my burden.

The ay construction is not natural. When a Tagalog talks to another Tagalog one rarely talks using the ay. The ay is often used only in formal writing. I used to believe that there was no difference between spoken Tagalog and Filipino and written Tagalog and Filipino. But there is a world of difference. After all these translation projects, I realize that a translator who is not within ear shot and a non-native speaker of the target language does the language conversion at greater risk of miscommunication.

The ay construction is characteristic of many technical translation. In proofreading technical and medical papers, I find out that this is what translators often do when forced to translate literally. [English subject-verb-object can translate to Tagalog subject-verb-object as well and this uses the ay. Filipino normal order verb-subject-object does not use the ay but the verb is followed by the marker ang]Anyhow, the resulting translation is often more difficult to read. When proofreading texts in the ay construction,I exercise extreme control lest I change everything to the "ang" construction, which will change all the word order, but will make the translation more natural and idiomatic.

Aside from affecting the word order a change from the "ay" construction to the "ang" construction will almost always affect the emphasis of the sentence. This happens partly because of the function of the Filipino verb. Filipino verbs are always an issue because we have um-verbs, mag-verbs, na-verbs, in-hin verbs an-han verbs and so on. Both Tagalog and Filipino automatically shift the focus of verbs with the use of a particular prefix or suffix. "Nagsabi ka" (nag-verb-You said)-actor focus; Sinabi mo (in verb- You said)-object or focus on intention. So "You said that I am pretty" can translate to either actor or object focus construction: Sinabi mo na maganda ako (You said that I am pretty); Nagsabi ka na maganda ako (You said that I am pretty). Both translations are correct, but to stay close to the intention of the source English text, one needs to decide the emphasis of the source text. In English, the emphasis is of course on the verb itself, that is, whether it is passive or active, or how it is inflected. In Tagalog and Filipino, the verbs used should reflect the emphasis of the source text. To translate accurately, it is not just a matter of choosing the verb aspect in Filipino that is equivalent to the English verb tense but it is also faithfully noting the emphasis by choosing the right affixation. Actor focus? Subject focus? Focus on intention? It's not always easy to tell, but it's worth a try for more accurate translation.

(Speak Tagalog)

Trivia on Tagalog and other major Philippine languages

Metaphors Featuring Animals

word-for-word transfer Meaning
Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo What use is there for the grass if the horse is dead Be good now; Do good now (or some equivalent)
Matalino man ang matsing, napaglalalangan din. Even if the monkey is wise, he can still be fooled Wily creatures will have their time. There is a way to trick the wise
Ang dumapong langaw, mataas pa sa kalabaw. The fly who sat on the carabao is higher than the carabao Somebody has airs.
Ibon man may layang lumipad, kulungin mo at umiiyak. Even a bird is free to fly, and caging it will make it cry Call for freedom
Kapag umaalis ang pusa, naglalaro ang daga. When the cat leaves, the mouse plays Also applicable to an adulterous affair
Malaki ka na at mayroon ka ng sungay. You're grown up and you've grown horns. A reprimand to rebellious sons and daughters
Buntot mo, hila mo. It's your tail, you pull it It's your fault, bear the consequences.
Patabaing baboy Pig for fattening Referring to lazy persons who don't earn their keep and are a burden to those who work and bring the money home.
Siyang-siya ng itik Very much like a duck Walks like a duck
Kapag mataas ang lipad, masakit ang lagapak. When one flies high, one will have a heavy [painful] fall Referring to over-ambitious people who don't care how they reach the top as long as they reach it.
Iyan ang anay dito. That's the termite here. Referring to a person/thing who/which is the prime cause of destruction in a household.
Trabahong kalabaw Carabao's work Over work, working more than what is required

(Filipino Files)

New interesting essays by Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano


Writers Write via Wordhouse
In April next year, Philippine Bible Society is coming up with a coffee-table book featuring 100 profiles. Here are some of the interesting personalities included in that project:
This book is a celebration of friendship. Philippine Bible Society is thankful to these people who continue to support the work of Bible production and dissemination. May their tribe increase.

Edited at Wordhouse 2008:
  • Early Church History by Pastor Ferdinand Melendres (now with New Day Publishing)
    • Pastor Ferdinand Melendres traces the path of Christianity from the Nestorian and Manichaean periods. This book chronicles the entry of Christianity in the Philippines even before Magellan "rediscovered" the islands and named it "Filipinas" after King Philip of Spain.

  • Birth of an Angel by Manuel De Leon (Print on Demand): 141 pages
    • A father grieves the death of his fourteen year old son. This is his story of grief and healing, an account of actual events that led to his discovery of what it means to truly live and love. [If you would like to have a copy of this book, please contact the author directly.]

  • Six Books about ACM Missionaries in Asia by Nena Benigno (ACM)
    • These ACM missionaries have been enjoying God's Grace for His work in Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Africa, Thailand, and Burma. The book narrates their challenges and victories as they embrace the people of the land where they were called to take part in the Great Commission.

Isinalin Namin
(Translate - Magsalin sa; isalin sa (with the name of the language). Also rendered by affixing "Isa-" to the language into which another is to be translated, e.g.: To translate into Tagalog: Isa-Tagalog, or by suffixing 'in': Tagalugin, Tinagalog)

Our Filipino Translation Teams
have been busy with projects, mostly online. A team is composed of a consultant, two forward translators, and a back translator. For shorter less demanding projects, a team is composed of a Translator, an Editor/Reviewer and a Proofreader. Here's a summary of types of

Major Team Projects
ON SITE INTERPRETATION – series of focus group discussions on health issues to supply health card and insurance companies information relative to their trade and purpose. On selected sites in the Southern Luzon area

PEDAGOGY – Editing/ Voicing Review of Tagalog learning module sold in the market as a “TAGALOG LEARNING TOOL”

LINGUISTIC VALIDATION – Medical Survey Sheets: Translation, Evaluation of Translations, Back Translation, and Cognitive Debriefing English to Tagalog/ English to Cebuano / English to Ilocano / English to Hiligaynon

TRANSCRIPTION, TRANSLATION AND BACK TRANSLATION of customs files and video audio interviews English to Tagalog/ English to Ilocano

TRANSLATION, EDITING AND PROOFREADING of a series of bank memos, employee survey sheets, technical fliers and brochures, English to Ilocano, English to Cebuano, English to Filipino, English to Hiligaynon

TEXT BOOK TRANSLATION AND REVISION Translation of Values Text Book, and Revision of text (originally written for elementary students) for use of High School Readers. English to Tagalog.

TRANSLATION OF BIBLE STUDY MANUALS - Translation of Bible Study Manuals for actual Bible Study group in-teaching. English to Cebuano/ English to Tagalog

People have been talking about:

"Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda." Jose Rizal

Till Next Wordhouse Update


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