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Balitang Tagalog bilang isa
June 26, 2006

Tagalog at Wordhouse contains my personal insights on Tagalog Translation, Filipino culture, Pinoy trivia, and updates on other Philippine languages.


Insights/Anecdotes/Value Lessons on Tagalog Translation (focus on technical translation)

Ano Raw ("What did it say?")

My mother's first cell phone was a 2000 Nokia 5210. Since she got used to this model, she wouldn't leave the house without it. And since one son and one daughter are OFWs, her 5210 became her best loved gadget. But last week, the messages on her screen blinked and the letters disappeared at will. There had been many battery and LCD replacements and repairs in the past, but this time, both these solutions failed to work. We finally convinced her to retire the 5210.

Buying the next simplest gadget, an 1100 model, was a quick decision. Just to make sure that my mother wasnt deprived, we took her to the mall in her wheelchair and let her touch and feel the latest models. She was not interested in all the other models because she won't use their other features anyway. She just wanted to text and call and would rather store "real" pictures in an album. So she chose this inexpensive and easy to use 1100 with an assurance from us that it works exactly as the old one.

The first time she held her new phone, she was disoriented. She liked the light weight but not the very small screen. Due to her pride, she did not ask us at first how she could text and receive messages using short cut keys. Instead, she consulted the Tagalog Manual for Users, because it was in Tagalog.

After about some seconds of landing on the page about batteries, she read aloud:

Impormasyon Tungkol sa Baterya

Pagkakarga at Pagdidiskarga

Ang inyong telepono ay pinatatakbo ng isang bateryang muling nakakargahan.Tandaan na ang ganap na pagganap ng isang bagong baterya ay nakakamit lamang pagkaraan ng dalawa o tatlong kumpletong pag-inog ng pagkakarga at pagdiskarga!

"Ano raw?" My mother asked.

For her, the phrases ganap na pagganap (does this mean fully charged or maximum performance?) and kumpletong pag-inog ng pagkakarga at pagdiskarga (complete round of charging and discharging?) sounded funny and Greek. And as she continued to read the manual, she asked "Ano Raw?" (What did it say?) three times. Finally, she put the manual down, swallowed her pride, and in exasperation asked me to just teach her how to use the new cell phone.

I translated and explained back into English some confusing Tagalog in the manual, hoping that my back translation was correct. My mother had only six years of elementary education (after the Japanese occupation of 1942-1945). While today she prefers to read everything in Tagalog, not all Tagalog will communicate to her if they are too pure, formal or technical. She'd rather be told,

I-charge nang husto ang baterya, hanggang mapuno at apat na bar na ang nasa kanan ng iyong screen. Tapos na ang pagcha-charge pagkalipas ng dalawang oras.

[Charge the battery until you see four bars on the right of your screen monitor. Charging the battery is finished after two hours.]

That is, if that's what the Tagalog Greek text is actually saying. Note the switch coding I-charge instead of kargahan and the use of Tag-lish pagcha-charge instead of pagkakarga.

Instances like this make me think about who really uses Tagalog. Most Filipinos understand English, but those who find English difficult will not understand a Tagalog translation that has failed to appreciate how a Tagalog speaker and non-English user uses and speaks the language.

What happens when a Tagalog translation fails to appreciate how a native Tagalog speaker and non-English user speaks the language?

Confusion. Failed communication. Invalidated Intention.


Trivia on Tagalog and other major Philippine languages

Tuloy po kayo. Magandang araw po sa inyo. Do you know that po or ho and opo or oho, two Tagalog words that connote respect for elders are also used to signify a formal tone, for example, in a corporate letter or memorandum? Ibig po naming ipaalam sa inyo- We would like to inform you; Maaari po kayong komunsulta sa pinakamalapit na ahensya - You may consult the nearest agency; Paki-dala po ng mga kinakailangang papeles- Please bring your papers.

If you talk to a Tagalog on the street, you will be addressed with po and opo because you are a stranger (even if you are not old, but especially if youre older). While corporate letters are often straightforward and demanding, leaving the po and opo out somehow give them an apathetic, not-caring tone. Letters need not have these words but if they do have them, they must be sincerely respectful and not merely polite.

You may also want to check out "Tagalog Greetings" at Tinkerer.

Maaari [po] May (conditional or you have this option)
Kayong You (plural pronoun is used to respectfully address one
komunsulta [sa] consult [an]
pinakamalapit nearest
[na] ahensya. [an] agency
Tuloy po Kayo Come in (literal)


Watch for Articles on Filipino culture by Mrs. Evelyn Miranda Feliciano. Mrs Feliciano or Ate Evelyn is a bestselling Filipino author of books on family, culture, and lifestyle. She has written numerous articles for local Philippine publications and for International Organizations.

Read an introduction to Tagalog culture.

Atty. Romel Bagares, a journalist, lawyer, and student of Filipino culture give us a glimpse of legal-speak, how lawyers apply the legal jargon in day-to-day practice. The ordinary lawyer gobbledygook might be informative and insightful for legal translation.

Read legal-speak. Tagalog Posts on To Wit . Atty Romel comments on Legal Translation


Watch for the final announcement of a short story writing contest (Tagalog short stories for teens, Maikling kuwento para sa mga Kabataan). Ten winners will be awarded P5000 each plus a chance to attend a fiction writing workshop, FREE.

You are all welcome to contribute articles to All articles must not exceed 1000 words, must be in English (and with translation in Tagalog if you can) and must be about Tagalog, Filipino, and Pinoy Culture.

If you have a blog, and it is in Tagalog, please submit the blog address and we will feature your blog in our site.


Calendar and other Annoucements

1. The New American Standard Bible, a literary, liturgical Tagalog translation of the Bible goes through a style check.Concerns are as follows:
a. Given the number of translators who worked on this material, how consistent is the language?
b. Does it deliver on the literary aspect? What would be the translation grid used for checking its literariness?
c. Does the style satisfy both the need of the reader or the intention of this Bible edition?
d. Does this translation still sound Greek to a first reader? (in this case, yours truly)

Micro-financing organizations concerned about the plight of low-income communities delivers Tagalog books on parenting. Concerns are as follows:
a. Given that the audience belong to low-income communities, how exactly do they use these books? Do they read them? Do they study them together with a leader?
b. Not everyone in these communities are native Tagalog speakers. Many come from different places in the Philippines and use their first language in their households.

An international firm would like to provide its Filipino workers an orientation regarding the special jobs they are about to do. All jobs relate to "underwater welding" and "pipefitting". Jobs require special skills. Concerns are as follows:
a. These OFWs probably did not all come from Tagalog regions. How much vocabulary will be retained in English?
b. Technical vocabulary don't have equivalents in Tagalog. How much will be translated according to their meanings?
c. This is a job that will need research and the useful back-translation or editing of a Technical Consultant.


A translation seminar on June 30 will discuss new paradigms in translation of Filipino languages. This will be held at the UP Diliman.I will give you an update on this next issue.

If you have concerns about translation in general and English to Tagalog translation in particular, feel free to send your feedback.

Thank you very much

Your English to Tagalog Translator


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