Friday, July 30, 2004

The Philippines according to blogs

This very informative weblog is a must see"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Difficult translation of a traffic accident

A recent job was sent to me regarding a traffic accident. The text is hand written (almost undecipherable) .  The difficulty lies not on the handwriting but on the lack of punctuation marks, no commas, no periods! So the sequence of action was a bit blurred when I started to read the whole text. I only got the whole meaning when I started to sort of cut the long phrases and put commas and periods where they are needed. The document was like a spoken version of what happened. My duty was, as a "bearer" of the message, to get the message across being sure that the reader really understands the flow as much as the intended meaning of the one reporting the accident.

The manner of writing was hastily done due to the state of the person after the accident occurred and it was not a matter of style. He could be very angry and nervous at the time and was only thinking of getting out of the police station and fixing his broken mirror fast. I took that into consideration and analyzed thoroughly the meaning of the written words and tried to express that message in a more organized and understandable way. Of course, to tell the true account of the accident it must be "well-phrased" and intelligible to the authorities who will examine it so they can make proper decisions concerning the matter.

I think these justify the final translation of that accident.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Tungkol sa Pagsaway

Reading on the essay of Erich Fromm "On Disobedience," I encountered this bit of truth:

"Why is man so prone to obey and why is it so difficult for him to disobey? As long as I am obedient to the power of the State, the Church, or public opinion, I feel safe and protected. In fact it makes little difference what power it is that I am obedient to. It is always an institution, or men, who use force in one form or another and who fraudulently claim omniscience and omnipotence. My obedience makes me part of the power I worship, and hence I feel strong. I can make no error, since it decides for me; I cannot be alone, because it watches over me; I cannot commit a sin, because it does not let me do so, and even if I do sin, the punishment is only the way of returning to the almighty power. In order to disobey, one must have the courage to be alone, to err and to sin. But courage is not enough. The capacity for courage depends on a person's state of development. Only if a person has emerged from mother's lap and father's commands, only if he has emerged as a fully developed individual and thus has acquired the capacity to think and feel for himself, only then can he have the courage to say "no" to power, to disobey. A person can become free through acts of disobedience by learning to say no to power. But not only is the capacity for disobedience the condition for freedom; freedom is also the condition for disobedience. If I am afraid of freedom, I cannot dare to say "no," I cannot have the courage to be disobedient. Indeed, freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable; hence any social, political, and religious system which proclaims freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth. "

Something to think about this summer...

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Tagalog linguists for US government anti-terrorism project

Today I received an email from the list for translators and interpreters a job post for Tagalog translators/interpreter and linguists. It seems that the US government is recruiting Tagalog linguists and other language experts in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Amharic, Tigrinya, Urdu, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin, Haitian Creole, Somali for this noble project which is anti-terrorism. If anyone is interested, please visit the Aset Quality webpage ( or just send your resume to

Enough said about terrorism.  I hope they make a good deal of money out of it.
Going to see the movie Fahrenheit 9/11.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Festilingua 2004

An exciting event will unfold in Barcelona during the last warm days of September and first few cool days of October. After having a reunion with fellow teachers and translators at

Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mundo

for this forum of languages of the world, I have decided to include a promotion here in my blog so that people will know about it.

The tentative program is the following:

Around the world of languages in 7 days

-Promotion of Languages and Cultures

Marathon of Languages of the World

-Continuous language lessons in 65 languages

Workshop on Calligraphy

Linguistic Conference

Conference on Culture

So to recap, there will be 7 complete days to learn the basics of these languages, conferences and other cultural activities. Various embassies will participate in this event too. If anyone's interested in attending or just to see how this happening develops, please click on the right sidebar under Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mundo.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

PITPIT: Is it a bird, a plane...?

It reminds me of the classic song in the 70's I think by Celeste Legaspi and written by the master lyricist himself, Levi Celerio  (Guinness Book of World Records: "The only leaf player in the world is in the Philippines"): 

May pumukol sa pipit sa sanga ng isang kahoy  (Somebody shot a pipit perched in a branch of a tree)
At nahagip ng bato ang pakpak ng munting ibon (And the wing of the little bird was hit by a stone)
Dahil sa sakit, di na nakaya pang lumipad (It couldn't fly no more because of the pain)
At ang nangyari ay nahulog (And what happened was it fell)
Ngunit parang taong bumigkas, (But it spoke like a man,)
"Mamang kay lupit, ang puso mo'y di na nahabag, ("Cruel man, your heart pity has none)
Pag pumanaw ang buhay ko (If my life be gone)
May isang pipit na iiyak!"      (Another pipit shall moan) 

Pitpit is a Spanish word which refers to this bird we call pipit in both English and Tagalog. It caught my attention the other night when a Spanish man talked about this cute species. The word could have pass onto to Tagalog by deleting the t in the first syllable for easy pronunciation. Or it could be just through an imitation of its onomatopeic way of singing.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Interesting blog about the Philippine languages

It's a privilege to present to you my friends this new blog I found at Seasite Tagalog forum. The brains behind this weblog is Christopher Sundita from Washington, USA. He is a Filipino born in the USA (Bruce, your song's great) and an avid linguistics buff. Your mother must be so proud of you, Chris.
You can read his in depth entries regarding Philippine languages at Salita Blog

I also included the blog at the right side bar under interesting links so you'll never miss his smart posts.

Friday, July 16, 2004

La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind)

I've been trying to get hold of this book in the public library all over Barcelona but to no avail. The librarians informed me that they have a long list of reservation for this latest bestseller novel in the Spanish language. At least I have to wait until the month of November or December to be able to borrow it. Thinking that it costs 20 euros in hard bound copy, I am a bit reluctant to spend the money since I can in fact just buy a pocket book for less and even better borrow it in a library.  
My interest in this book is to translate it into Tagalog, maybe a hard task but for the benefit of the Filipinos who can't understand Spanish (although I have seen already a version in English) I'll do it. The easy and yet hard part is the title. Of course, from the first glance it's easy to render it as "Ang Anino ng Hangin." Very metaphorical isn't it? On second thought if we analyze profoundly the title itself and its meaning, it seems unnatural and illogical. Unnatural because we can not see wind and it has no shape nor form. Likewise in a logical sense we can ask the question, how can it cast a shadow in the first place? So the title as simple as that can play a major and crucial role in the "interpretation" of the entire novel. Does the translation "Ang Anino ng Hangin" retain the original metaphorical meaning? Well, that remains to be seen. I have the duty first to read whole book.
I am also surprised with the versions Spanish translators of movie titles render famous films like "Some like it Hot" (Con faldas y a lo loco - In skirts and crazy?) , "Waking Ned" (Despertando a Ned - Waking up Ned [isn't Ned supposed to be dead in the film?]),  "Unbreakable" (El protegido - The protegé), etc. Great imagination some translators have!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tanikalang Ginto

This webpage is really full of interesting stuffs about the Philippines: language, culture, travels, etc. It's like finding a treasure.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Free translation for freelance translator

A familiar email just popped up into my inbox this morning. The email contains a request to translate some lines from a chat session from somebody I don't know. And it talks about a trivial declaration of love! As much as I want to help this girl in her search for the meaning of the lines written in a chat but I don't do free long translations (more than 250 words) anymore just like any doctor who doesn't do a free consultation.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Mass vs mass

Just finished reading "Angels and Demons" this afternoon. The climax seemed quite predictable after having read his other best-selling novel. However, it tickled my funny bones with the witty exchange of remarks of the two protagonists at the end of the book: "neutrinos have mass - "I didn't know they were Catholics."

It's hard to translate the term mass in Tagalog without recurring to and using the original English term. In Tagalog, "misa" would surely be amiss since it only means the religious celebration of the Eucharist.

Polish is synonymous of Catalan

The English-Catalan, Catalan-English Collins dictionary has included the term Polish (polaco) as Catalan. It means that Catalan is as difficult as the Polish language. Moreover, it connotes a very negative meaning especially for Catalan people who speak it. The origin may have come from the difficulty of understanding Polish by a Spanish speaker, who in turn also resists to understand Catalan. Surely, this would come as an insult for most Catalans.


Thursday, July 08, 2004

That damn apple again

A striking discovery for me today as I read the book by Roberto Beretta and Elisabetta Broli, "Enigmas de la Biblia al descubierto" about the apple that was supposedly eaten by Eve. In the book, the authors intelligently noted that there was a wrong translation of the Latin term "malus-malum," which indicates bad and apple . Upon close scrutiny of the whole chapter of Genesis 3, we can find that there is no mention of the apple but rather of another fruit- the fig. Says Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. The authors concluded that it's logical that they took leaves from this tree - after eating its fruit - by its proximity to them. In fact in the Jewish tradition, they consider the forbidden fruit as the fig not the apple as widely known in the Christian world. Anyway, in matters of faith is this so crucial? Not really but here we see deception resurfaces again. If you ask me, I shall just translate the word malus as fruit since we really don't know which fruit it was originally as no one has ever known Eden.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The world is an APPLE

POMUM. The Spanish equivalent for APPLE the translator of The Da Vinci Code rendered. Amazed by this equally brilliant translation of the missing "orb" which led to the fall of the human race and in contradiction, the "fall" which gave birth to modern science, I wonder if this can be used also in Tagalog translation. The first fall cursed and "grounded" us all while the second blessed us with a wider understanding of the world we live in and ushered in progress. Obviously, apple in Tagalog is, like in Spanish (manzana, plural form is manzanas), mansanas*. Using this term means losing the original intended five-letter-word key to the secret. And of course, would lose meaning in the book since it would not fit in the cryptex for being too long a word. But then again, pomum is not a Spanish word at all! It's Latin which means fruit, apple in English. Universally, apple is also known by its scientific name Malus pumila . (I'm so flabbergasted maybe our family name Rosaceña came from apple's family name Rosaceae!) DRAE (the official Spanish dictionary) does not include it in the famous and likewise infamous dictionay. Nonetheless, the rendering of pomum is quite ingenious. Would that be also good for Tagalog translation?

* It's so curious to note that many Spanish words we have in Tagalog like "oras (hora - hour, time), boses (voces - voices) and mansanas are in the plural form though we normally refer and use them in the singular. An example is "Qué hora es?" - Ano'ng oras na?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Funny thing happened in FNAC

I was browsing the other novel of Dan Brown (got really interested in his books about conspiracies, spies and secret societies ) "Angels and Demons" in FNAC bookstore when someone unknown called me on my mobile phone. Surprised and a bit suspicious on who the caller was, my throat reluctantly gargled the words "Hola, diga." Then on the other line I heard a sweet voice of a non-native Spanish speaker who told me she found my details in the web. Hmmm, a line in the novel "Angels and Demons" described a scenario like this one... My paranoia was getting in on me but fast! Had she not introduced herself as a half-Belgian, half-Filipina I would not definitely have kept the conversation going in the first place. Later, I found out that she would like to know more about the art of Translation and of course, the one thing that matters most - its profitability. She also told me that she considers learning Tagalog again since she got a job that needs to be translated in our native language. So I agreed to meet up with her on Thursday afternoon to talk about these matters. Another opportunity lurks just around the corner of Via Laietana...

Monday, July 05, 2004


This is the day of reckoning, my first day in the world of blog! Things related to my translation works and life will be posted here and be updated every other day, not to say everyday. So cruel world I'm out here!

The Code

Just like any other normal person in the world who has read The Da Vinci Code, I am so excited and at the same time paranoid of what's the real truth out there. As a translator I can't help imagine the vast repercussion this novel would create if the facts described in the book were really true. Although I knew some of them even before I read the book, I was amazed and scared to death having them known again in a different light. My next step was to investigate further on these facts - but what good it could do if all the information in the world was tainted with deception and falsification?