Book Fair Finds: Lost in Translations

During the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon, two of the prevalent sentiments expressed by a number of participants was the lack of young adult books written by Filipinos for Filipinos, and also the lack of translations of popular titles to Filipino.

Apparently, local publisher Precious Hearts Romances addressed the second sentiment to a certain extent long before the ReaderCon, and has published “Takipsilim,” the Filipino edition of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight.”

When we went to the Manila International Book Fair this weekend, we also found Filipino editions of L.J. Smith’s “The Vampire Diaries” in two parts, and we learned that PHR is set to release translations of “The Hunger Games” and the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.

I haven’t managed to start reading “Takipsilim” yet because I have a lot on my plate right now, but I scanned it. The translation is a mix of Filipino and English. Obviously there are words that just wouldn’t translate well to Filipino, so the translator had to decide which words or phrases to retain. I’ve always found reading English dialogue in stories set in the Philippines a little unsettling, and the opposite seems to be true for me as well, so the smattering of English sentences and words alleviates that problem a little.

Based on the small portion that I’ve read, though, the Filipino parts can sometimes be difficult to grasp because of the use of uncommon words. If these translations were meant to target a wider range of Filipino readers, it would’ve been more prudent to translate the text based on context rather than a more literal or word-for-word approach. I actually find it easier to read stories that were originally written in Filipino rather than what I’ve read of “Takipsilim” so far. Then again, I may be underestimating other readers out there. Hrmmm…maybe it will be fun to have several people with different reading skills and experience read “Takipsilim” just to find out… Note to self: DO THIS!

Oh gawds, I am scared of how “Fifty Shades” will turn out. Inner goddess, gird your loins! 😛

5 thoughts on “Book Fair Finds: Lost in Translations

  1. Filipina Reader says:


    I wonder if you managed to push through with your plans to read the Filipino translation of “Twilight”? How was the experience, did you enjoy reading it? I got to read it a while back, and these are my thoughts:
    I wonder if you had the same experience as I did?

    I also wonder what would happen to the “inner goddess” if and when “Fifty Shades Of Grey” gets translated 🙂

    • Meann says:

      Hi there!

      I haven’t been able to push through with it yet. But I will get to it very soon because I was assigned to write a story about the translations. 🙂

      “Inner goddess.” I cringe at the thought of what that’s gonna end up being translated as. o_O

      • The Filipina Reader says:

        Oo nga! I can already imagine my “inner goddess” screaming for help 🙂 What is your opinion about translations, though? I think it’s good readers have more access to material in Filipino, although I am still hoping this would lead to more the creation and publication of original material written by fellow Filipinos in Filipino (or other dialects). Do you think this is possible in the future?

        • Meann says:

          I’m all for the translation of English material, actually, as long as it’s done well. 😉 It’s nice to have books available in 2 languages just so that more people will be able to read these books. I still wish there are more original fiction materials written in Filipino and in the dialects that readers can pick up for leisure and not for some school requirement. There are a lot of talented writers and I’ve read a lot of great stories, but they’re mostly written in English.

          I don’t know enough about the local publishing industry to be able to say why there aren’t enough material (the fiction for leisure types, at least) written in Filipino or the dialects. But there also doesn’t seem to be that big a demand, even for the translations. If they published the Tagalog Twilight alongside the English one at the same time, the English one would probably still sell more. Lots of factors in play, really, but I think writers and publishers should take the risk and start the movement. 🙂

  2. Carla Mae Saison says:

    While I agree that the Tagalog-translated “Twilight,” with its smattering of English phrases, sounds a bit forced, I understood why the translator kept some sentences untranslated: It just fits right to Bella’s voice if she spoke in Filipino.

    The Filipino edition of The Hunger Games, however, is completely different. I’m at the first chapters and the translation is full-on Tagalog most of the time. The translation suits well with the tone of the original version.

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