Lost in non-translation

Posted by watchmen
August 1, 2017
Posted in OPINION

Believe you me, I am never lost in translation as long as the text I’m staring at is written in English—a boast from this English teacher. English? Of course, I mean the language— not the bloody birth—from this true-brown Pinay. We Filipinos were taught English since Grade I, remember.
For emphasis, this recount: On a boat ride to Greece in 1995, I was seated beside a retired military who was talking to his grandson while holding a newspaper. When he laid the newspaper down, I was quick to say “Borrow” while pointing at the newspaper. He said just as quickly, “But this is written in English.” My empathic reply: “I can speak and write in English.”
Long intro as to how I was lost in the brochures of Air China in our flight from NAIA (of course, Ninoy Aquino International Airport) to Peking, and finally to Washington Dulles airport of the U.S. of A. Now for full disclosure: My brother-in-law Augusto, my sister Bebita, and yours truly were on instant trip to Pennsylvania, USA, where my eldest sister Lolita is at the ICU of the WellSpan Hospital—caused by a fall from her son Butch’s house. Still unable to speak up to this writing, Manang Lita is on recovery, dear reader.
Where was I Lost in Non-Translation? Air China has all the picturesque brochures on every passenger seat to lure Chinese and non-Chinese travelers for future flights to China—very much like what Philippine Airlines does for first timers or for seasoned PAL customers for leisurely reading while on flights. But with a difference: PAL entertains its passengers in inviting, clearly scripted brochures in English. Not in Wikang Pambansa, not in any smirched dialect—except for the exclamatory Mabuhay! Of course, PAL orates the Tagalog translations following its English announcements.
Goodness gracious, I was really lost in the non-translation of the beautifully printed Air China brochures. This media person really curious how other airlines sell their country, not in their native tongue (Spanish, German, Japanese, et al.), but in English, which to my mind, has come to be a universal language, agree or disagree.
In Air China, I found the Safety Instructions brochure in English—similar to those in all other airways I had been to. Ditto with the cosmetics advertisements—yup, all in admirable English—for their commercial value.
There was no chance of being lost in translation, reading the CHINA DAILY Sunday July 2, 2017 provided us passengers. Full blast on its cover is the headline: XI: A LOFTY MISSION TO PERFORM. The caption: President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Carrie Lam ChengYuet-ngor after she was sworn in as the fifth-term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday [July 2, 2017]. Quoted in red are prophetic words by-lined President Xi Jinping: “Any attempt to endanger national sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government and the authority of the Basic Law or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the redline, and is absolutely impermissible.”
Above is food for thought on misgivings that our Bayan Ko will become China territory—thoughts in the mist of the distant future. Never ever will this prognosis become a reality, no matter how huge is the Philippines’ debt (millions? billions?) to China, courtesy of Pres. Duterte’s open palm to power holder Pres. Jinping.
I carried with me the CHINA DAILY to make a parody of Lost in Translation, a multi-awarded movie./WDJ


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