Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lost in Translation

"Translation is at best an echo."
- George Borrow

So quite recently, there has been a workplace initiative to use English as the standard medium for verbal and written communication. There's quite a bunch of foreign folks in the office, so it doesn't really come as a surprise.

Seriously though, who are are we kidding? Twenty-three years on Earth, and I have never seen even one of these projects succeed.

I have a funny relationship with English. My elementary years were spent in a school where speaking it was not only encouraged, but strictly enforced, to the point where even the non-academic staff were more fluent than most people I meet on the street. Well, at least that's how I remember it.

I guess I'm lucky to have a solid base for my second (first?) language, because I've seen and heard a lot of people butcher it throughout high school and college. Maybe that's why I don't really tend to participate in such campaigns. Call me a grammar nazi, but some people are so bad it's half cringeworthy and  half hilarious. Subject-verb agreement? Thrown out the window. Consistency of tenses? Never heard of them. Phonetic similarities? No rules apply!

What I'm trying to say is that a lot of people just try too hard at things they're not exactly good at. However, unlike many things in life, these skills could actually be improved via practice (and a lot of reading) but they don't really seem to bother.

Normally, that's okay. Who cares anyway? What's ironic is that the same bunch of people also make fun of others who suck at the same thing. The same group of people also feel offended when others, especially foreigners, correct their mistakes.

We should always understand that there is always room for improvement. While it's a huge advantage when one is proficient with the lingua franca, we should also understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with conversing in Filipino. I guess that's why I always get in trouble when these campaigns are launched, but that's another story.

Just go with what you're comfortable with. At least that's what I do. There's a reason why interpreters and subtitles exist: sometimes there are things that are difficult to express in a different language and results can be hilariously disastrous when things are lost in translation.


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