In the process of translation, I discovered many texts that is difficult to translate in our language. There were too technical terms that simply has no counterpart yet in our own. Then I’d realize how little I know about the different fields and genre, of how we apply them in our culture and context. I tried searching on the web about the terminologies, if there are existing or official translations for the Bible, countries, economics, scientific terms, even political and international studies, and was able to find only a few.
I discovered that I need to read more texts written in Filipino regarding these fields to be able to have a better grasp in translating the source text. I noticed how developed other languages are because if you try to look for a dictionary of business and law terms, for example, in Chinese, we are easily provided with a list on the web. With the bulk of texts that needed to be translated, I would try to translate them to the best of my knowledge, consult the dictionary for terms I’m not familiar with. Also, the translation made were in the most natural form in the way we speak and not literal translations of the original text. Due to time constraints, the translations could no longer be checked one by one, so these can be deemed as quite raw but the form is accurate.
It is interesting to note how countries in Asia like China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea have steady flow of translated works of books (even best-sellers and foreign language books fiction and non-fiction), films, and songs have versions in their own language. Their people are exposed to different literature but written in their own language.
In the Philippines, not much effort is put into the translation of books because English is the second language and widely used in the country. I have a multilingual background, because I grew up in a Chinese family who speaks Fookien and was taught Mandarin in school. In the house, we were cared for by househelps who speak Bisaya (Waray). My mother’s side also have roots in Samar so I got exposed to the Visayan language, then a few Cebuano and Bikolano in the family. Tagalog is one of the languages we got exposed to living here in the country and learned English at school.
In my personal experience, watching and reading has helped a lot in grasping the languages. It was when I was watching variety shows that have spontaneous conversations and subtitles in Chinese that helped me understand and internalize the Chinese language. Reading also helped in the practice of comprehension and writing. There were terms you picked up along the way but learning the basics when we were in nursery and up indeed helped lay the foundation. I’m not a linguist, but I like learning new languages. I learned some Korean through watching dramas. I grew up watching rented Betamax or VHS of Wushu traditional drama series. Exposure does help and with constant practice, you’ll be albe to speak the language. When visiting a country who speaks Mandarin, we get the chance to converse with locals. Surprisingly, we blend in as locals and they understand our Mandarin perfectly. They even get surprised when they find out we are from the Philippines. Quite ironic though, because people still treat us as foreigners in our native land.
People living in the metro are mostly not familiar with the vernacular languages but they may have a relative who lives in the provinces. Our househelps are all familiar with Filipino. There are students though who came from the provinces that have a hard time adjusting to Filipino. For them, it has many rules unlike the dialects that don’t have much restrictions or because they already got used to it. They prefer to use English even in conversing and more so, in writing. I’m not familiar with the dialects of the north and further south, but because of my awareness of the Visayan language, I am able to catch what they are saying as I grew up hearing that being spoken around me. Language is evolving and our language is still developing and growing. Hopefully, our vocabularies will increase as we fuse the different dialects of the regions of the country.