Lost In Translation

April 15th, 2009 · No Comments

The Philippines prides itself as one of the English-speaking countries in Asia. With a smug glow, and a little shake of the head and shoulders, Filipinos tick the “very good” box in forms to affirm their proficiency of the English language. Equipped with a high level of education, the Filipino just loves to say “Of, course, I speak English.” Speaking, understanding and being quite at ease with the language however, are entirely different. One has to understand the nuances of the language to get the full meaning of what was said.

In the good old days, school teachers were adamant that “one had to think in English to speak English” and the ‘must speak English’ rule was enforced within the school compound. Anyone who had a slip of the tongue was fined ten cents per Filipino word uttered! Then, we thought how ridiculous! However, in retrospect, it served us well.

Then, personalities like Jose Laurel, Raul Manglapus, Boots Anson Roa, Eddie Mercado, Leila Benitez, Jose Marie Velez, were enviably articulate, admired and emulated for their voice and perfect diction.

Marcos changed the medium of instruction from English to Filipino. A wave of nationalism swept the country and our mastery of the English language slowly eroded. Filipino words were dropped sporadically in a sentence to help complete thoughts. It’s like fill in the blanks. Gradually though, it slipped to the other extreme. More Filipino words with the odd English word were interjected in. To speak half English, half Filipino became the “in thing”. You were dubbed as “burgis” (bourgeois/the privileged). The “Tag-lish” had arrived!

Our beauty queens like Aurora Pijuan, Gloria Diaz shined on the international stages and communicated without a hitch. Comparatively, when Janina Miller San Miguel took the crown of Miss World, she rambled incoherently her response during the question and answer portion of the competition which created unwanted controversy. Her stumble could be attributed to nerves but her “Fs” and “Ps” were also muddled up. It simply was just another proof of how our language skills had slipped down the slippery slope.

Defunct President Estrada was notorious for his so called “Eraptions” – his English bloopers fitted right into the vernacular. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on Estrada and his “weather-weather”. After all, President Bush had his own set of hysterical “Bushisms”, as he claims to have been “misunderestimated”. And to think, English is his native tongue.

The tenses have gone array; syntax, and context interchanged; adjectives juxtaposed; prepositions left dangling. To add to the confusion when the letters “Fs” and “Ps”, and “Bs” and “Vs” are transposed phonetically. At times it can be downright shocking if not embarrassing. Don’t ever ask for a packed lunch!! You just might get something else!!

Communication breakdown….has become complete meltdown – lost in translation! I’ve been jotting them down for awhile and here are some I’d like to share with our readers.

To say “the GST is just around the corner” was translated as “ang GST ay paikot-ikot. (No wonder, it made us dizzy.)

“Face your face to my face, and I’ll tell you to your face. You think, I’m scare of you – far away you.” (Translation: Iharap mo mukha mo sa mukha ko. Akala mo takot ako – malayo ka!)

“You are making my inside bad, ha?” (Translation: Sumasama ang loob ko?)

”Bad ba ang inside mo?– You harden you” (Translation: Masama ba ang loob mo? Tigasan mo ang loob mo.)

“Broken head, ka naman!” (Translation: Sira ba ulo mo?).

Magpakatutuo ka! (Translation: You get a fact!)

“Oh no, for the whole life of me!!” (Translation: Hindi, ha – sa buong buhay ko.)

“I have no more time out.” (Wala na akong oras.) so I leave you with these words: Strong your heart for in the long of time you will success!! (Translation: Tibayan mo ang puso mo at sa balang araw, magtatagumpay ka rin!!)

Any more gems, fleas, pax it on. Some should simply have clear instructions hanging around their necks as they walk around – “Nil by Mouth.”

Tags: Features