Filipino Translation and Localization Challenges that Translators Face
Translation has been around since the early Mesopotamian era. Through the history of translation, humans evolved and adapted to communicate between cultures. In turn, the country’s history influenced its language especially for colonized countries. The Philippines is an excellent example of how language evolved. That is why Filipino translation and localization are challenging for many translators.
Before, Tagalog was the official language of the Philippines. Discovered as a written language in 900 CE, Tagalog was already established before the Spanish colonization. Discovered in 1989, the oldest Filipino document, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, was written in Tagalog. This inscription documented the pre-Hispanic culture and literacy of the Filipinos before colonization. After the Philippines gained freedom after hundreds of years of colonization, the language evolved with influences from the Spanish, English, and Japanese languages.
Since then, a lot of media produced both in Filipino and English languages locally. With television dramas and movies getting international attention, subtitling and dubbing it into various languages such as English, Indonesian, Japanese, and more. Philippine comics gained a lot of popularity over the years as well that a lot were translated into English and Italian.
Overcoming the Hurdles of Translating and Localizing in Filipino
The official language is Filipino and English
The Philippines has two official languages–Filipino and English. A lot of documents and literature are in English. Television shows and advertisements are primarily in English or a mixture of both. Diglossia is apparent in a lot of regions in the Philippines. Despite having English as their official language, many Filipinos prefer to speak and use various languages and dialects.
The Philippine Archipelago speaks over 170 languages
Made up of 7,640 islands, the Philippines is an archipelago. Within these islands, inhabitants use various languages and dialects. Translation and localization are challenging because not every Philippine dialect has a direct translation of the source language. Most of these dialects have no standard written spelling or dictionary. Through spoken language, these dialects are passed on from one generation to another. Choosing the “right” language or dialect to translate into is difficult for a country with many languages.
The Philippines has 12 Auxiliary languages
There are major native languages in the country–two of the biggest ones are Tagalog and Cebuano. The education sector in the Philippines use the dialects of each region in teaching primary and grade school. The translation is essential for the pupils’ materials. However, since the language is not accessible to many translators, most of the time, the materials are directly translated and are not of the best quality for learning.
Taglish is very common for daily use
Currently, Filipinos, most especially Gen Z, speak Taglish or a mixture of Tagalog and English on a daily basis. Books, films, and even TV shows utilize Taglish as a mode of communication to sound more casual, natural, and up-to-date with the trends. Even colloquial terms are in Tagalog and English words, such as werpa, which means you give the listener support or power.
Many western young adult fiction books, and manga (Japanese comics) are translated to Filipino in the Philippines. These translations were localized to match how Filipinos speak on an everyday basis. Thus, it was mostly in Taglish than pure Filipino.
Filipino have gender-neutral pronouns
Many languages have noun genders, such as Spanish and German; some have gender-specific pronouns like him, her, she, and he in English. However, in Filipino, it uses gender-neutral pronouns such as siya, ako, tayo, kayo. Filipino to English translation can be difficult for translators. Not only that, there are a lot of words that are untranslatable to English, such as gigil (meaning: intense annoyance or extreme fondness) or umay (meaning: sick of repeating the same thing all over again).
Filipino is a beautiful and unique language. Despite being hard to translate and localize due to the country’s access to the English language, Filipino is still the preferred language for the masses. The root of being a Filipino is to learn and enrich your language.
CCC Overcomes Filipino Translation and Localization Challenges
Filipino translation and localization have been around and utilized for decades. Filipino children grew up watching localized dubbed anime on television, reading western fiction translated to Filipino. Businesses translate and publish their manuals and technical guides to cater to every Filipino. It may be challenging to translate and localize Filipino, but it is not impossible. A translator must be fluent in both the source and target language and have experience to professionally translate a project. This avoids getting lost in translation.
CREATIVE CONNECTIONS & COMMONS INC. offers high-quality, accurate, fast translation and localization services for your multilingual projects. With over ten years of experience and catering to more than 30 languages across the globe, CCC is your best option to get your money’s worth.
We have services that cater to almost every field–specialized and general translation, manga and webtoon translation, website translation, game translation and localization, and manga typesetting. We are a one-stop-shop for all of your needs!