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Balitang Tagalog bilang tatlo
August 15, 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)


What can possibly ruin the quality of a translation? Proof errors. Specially for subtitles where sophisticated editor tools can detect even an extra space, translations can’t be left to the careless. Proofreading should be automatically done right after translation, yet in lieu of the very tight deadline, translators often miss going through this crucial step.

A script that comes back with a comment from the client that says there’s proof error may permanently erase my name from that client’s data base of vendors. This irreversible consequence is due to the reality that there are so many translators on the web and I better deliver good quality or else….

Sometimes, it’s frustrating to realize that a typographical error glares and outsmarts that good dynamic piece of translation I so patiently worked hard at. Imagine missing that a sentence is a question and giving it a full stop mark! How careless can you get, and how embarrassing!

Speakers may not be conscious that there’s a distinction between pauses, that an en and em dash demand different types of pauses; that commas and semi-colons have very well-defined functions; and that one inserts an ellipsis not out of a sudden mood swing but because it is necessary. But writers, editors and translators do not have this luxury. Either memorize the uses of these devices or suffer a season of draught from a lack of freelance jobs.

Proof glitches may look trivial but they are unforgiveable. Translation project managers may decide that a particular choice of word, however unnatural sounding may simply be reflecting an individual translator’s style, but bad proof reflects a careless personality.

There’s really no excuse, because in the end, it’s not your credentials that matter but your desire to give excellent service to the end user.

More on proofreading at


Trivia on Tagalog and other major Philippine languages

Body Talk

Tagalog idioms featuring body parts.

Literal Translation Meaning
matigas ang ulo hard the head stubborn
ulo ng gusot head of crumpled leader of trouble
teyngang kawali ear is frying pan deaf, pretending to be
teyngang daga ear is mouse/rat black mushroom
malapad ang teynga wide the ear will most likely have a long life
matang pusa eyes are cat very clear eyes, won’t miss anything
makati ang dila itchy, the tongue gossip/ slanderer
matang lawin eyes are eagle can see from very far
mapangmata (prefix) eyes looks down on others
ipamukha (prefix) face tell to somebody’s face
makapal ang mukha thick the face shameless
balat-sibuyas onion-skinned sensitive, easily offended
may gatas pa sa labi has milk (still) on lips young and innocent
liigan neck(suffix) cut the head/kill
kabalikat (prefix) shoulder person/s who support someone in a task
balikatan shoulder (suffix) side by side, together in work
brasuhin arm (suffix) deal with it roughly
kamay na bakal hand (made of) steel (give) a heavy punishment
malikot ang kamay restless, the hands prone to steal
beywang na hantik waist of the ant sexy, small waist
puwitan ass (suffix) end of line, farthest from queue
makati ang sakong itchy the sole of the feet restless, adventurous


"For the Filipino, our pagmumukha, how our face presents itself to the world, is as important, if not more than crucial than it’s physical contour or beauty. One may not have an attractive face, but magaan (light and pleasant), maaliwalas (refreshing), or Masaya (smiling or happy) face that more than compensates for the lack of actual beauty. And woe to those who may have good looks but mabigat (heavy), maasim (sour) and problemado (problem-ridden) ang mukha." Mrs. Evelyn Miranda Feliciano shares her thoughts on the context of some curious Tagalog words.

Romel Bagares writes, "If there's anything you should avoid like the plague in your written work, I remember my English creative writing class professor tell his class, it is Latinate. His point, it seems to me now, is that if in the old days, the more ornate the language used, the more impressive a writer sounded, in these days of the impatient and rebellious reader, to write the way former Vice President Teofisto Guingona speaks is plain baduy. So, forget about the elaborately obscure exsanguinate and use the clear-as-day bleed instead." Click on

New Book on the block: On August 21 the book "Bar Blues, Everything You Want to Know About the Bar Exams but are too Busy to Ask" will be launched. Romel Bagares is one of four authors. About the book: "Bar Blues should help students to see the culminating exercise as a friend to welcome and not as an adversary to avoid and dread. I like the light-hearted treatment that humanizes law and the bar, hopefully to make lawyers more interested in substance than form and fees." - Prof. Rene B. Gorospe, Political Law Reviewer...2nd place, 1979 Bar exams.)


Read a nostalgic post about growing up in Laguna, by Ruth Floresca, Wordhouse welcomes very short stories, anecdotes, and poetry contribution to the site. Click for information on how to submit?

Enjoy the Tagalog songs and poetry of a poet and a song-writer, Mark Angeles and Jeffrey Copiaco.


Calendar and other Annoucements

The New American Standard Bible, a literary, liturgical Tagalog translation of the Bible goes through a style check.See sample style comments.

Editing comes at the end of translation process. Here is a comparison of two translations.

Although you can always consult the INTERNET or use a dictionary when translating a technical document, one of the the best ways to ensure accuracy of your translation is by consulting with a practioner in that technical discipline. See how a manual intended for students of electronics improves after such an interview.

“Cannibalism is the act or practice of eating members of one's own species and usually refers to humans eating other humans (sometimes called anthropophagy) though it sometimes means 'to scavenge' (ie to cannibalize spare parts means to scavenge for spare parts). Cannibalism has been attributed to many different tribes and ethnicities in the past, but the degree to which it has actually occurred and been socially sanctioned is an extremely controversial topic in anthropology, owing to the extreme taboo against its practice in most cultures. Some anthropologists argue that cannibalism has been almost non-existent and view claims of cannibalism with extreme skepticism, while others argue that the practice was common in pre-state societies.”

“Ang Canibalismo ay gawaing pagkain sa mga miyembro ng kinabibilangang uri (specie) at karaniwang tumutukoy sa mga tao na kumakain ng kapwa tao (minsan ang tawag dito ay anthropophagy) bagamat minsan ang ibig sabihin nito ay “pagkain ng mga bahagi lamang”. Maraming tribo at mga etnikong grupo noong unang panahon ang sinasabing gumagawa ng Canibalismo, ngunit kung hanggang saan ang paggawa nila nito at kung ano ang mga pagbabawal ng lipunan nila tungkol dito, ay napaka-kontrobersyal na paksa sa antropolohiya, dahil sa matinding pagkatakot dito (extreme taboo) sa maraming kultura. Ipinapalagay ng ilang antropolohiya na wala naman talagang Canibalismo at tinitingnan nila nang may malalim na pagdududa ang mga nagpipilit na mayroon nito, habang iginigiit naman ng iba na sa mga lipunang hindi pa estado [noong unang panahon] ang Canibalismo ay pangkaraniwan lamang.”

Would you like to translate this in a different way?


FYI: You may access a free translation of the updated “Rules for Spelling” which has been agreed upon after a series of three forums. Read about Tagalog Spelling rules.

LIRA AND UMPIL EVENTS There will be an UMPIL CONGRESS on August 26, 9-5pm at the Intellectual Property Rights Office, 351 Buendia Avenue, Makati (right in front of IPO ang Korea House)

PISTANG PANITIK will be held on September 3, 1-8 pm at the Manila International Bookfair at the World Trade Center, Roxas Boulevard cor. Buendia Ave., National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera is guest speaker, and with a poetry reading by poets from Ateneo, LaSalle, UST, and UP. This is made possible through the cooperation of ANVIL publications, these academe's Creative Writing Centers and their publishing houses.

For details, call telefax 922-1830 or visit

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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