WHEN  MOUSE  IS  MOUSE  AND  NOT  DAGA

MANILA, April 23, 2005
 (STAR) By Juaniyo Arcellana - The Filipino community glossary of Microsoft is to be launched online and on hard copy shortly, the country’s project moderator has said.

Professor Virgilio Almario said about 2,000 of 3,000 words used in software and hardware were translated into Filipino or variants of the local language, in the project begun in October last year and completed in early 2005.

"A word like mouse though was among those retained, because you cannot translate that into daga," Almario says.

To minimize any possible losses in translation, Almario, a national artist for literature who has translated the works of Pablo Neruda, formed a team of 10 translators (including himself), scholars, linguists, academicians, a number of them his colleagues at the University of the Philippines. To this he added two younger consultants to provide input on the latest youth jargon among other kidspeak.

"We worked on this practically everyday for the last three months of last year," Almario says, adding that they could barely take a break during the holidays.

He prefers though that the names of the other team members be kept under wraps as he alone was under contract with Microsoft, and part of his tasks was to handpick his plantilla.

In a phone interview, Almario said that the principles of translation are simple. "First we look if there is already an accepted translation of the word in Filipino. If not, then in other native languages. The third tier is a Spanish equivalent and finally, English."

For the community glossary, however, Almario says the process was practically reversed. The team looked at the English terms first then debated and vetted which would be retained in the original, and which would be translated.

"Madugo," he describes the contentious day-long discussions, because on one side were the purists who wanted everything in Filipino, and on the other were the more liberal members who were more inclined to retain the English.

"But eventually we reached a consensus for each term," he says, adding that they were aware the project was technical in nature and not a creative endeavor.

It was not correctness or accuracy in translation they were eventually after, rather if the term was user-friendly and easily understood.

He gives examples of some translated terms: enter is pasok, paste is idikit, drag is hila, press is pindot, and press long is tagal pindot. He laughs good-naturedly at this last term, tagal pindot.

Other terms transposed into the native are class (uri), area (lawak), field (larang), archives (sinupan). Distinctions are made between administrator (tagapangasiwa) and manager (tagapamahala).

Among the English words retained, aside from mouse, are default, file/s, key and shortcut, while virus and edit are English words already accepted in Filipino.

Then there are the respelled words, phonetically adapted into Filipino, such as akses, drayb and tsart.

Iberian variants are ikono, numero and kodigo, this last one different from the corrupted kodiko, which students use for cheating during exams in their adventurous years.

So far, feedback has been favorable, Almario says. He understands that Microsoft also intends to assemble local computers, and this, partnered with the glossary, would drastically reduce the cost of software and hardware to make them affordable to more people in the archipelago.

"Huge royalties are paid for the English glossary," Almario says, at the same time acknowledging that Microsoft would still earn in the localized setting with greatly increased akses.

The community glossary is a Microsoft project that has been successfully implemented in other countries, such as China and India, according to Almario. To date there are over 10 completed glossaries, including those in Thai and Swahili, in languages used in places where the idea of a computer is almost as alien as the moon.

Then again, maybe not that too alien. "The project intends to make the farthest barangays here computer literate," Almario says, and if the people in the remote villages learn computerese transposed into local setting, then that is empowerment because no longer will they feel oppressed by technology.

Almario, dean of the UP College of Arts and Letters, has recommended to Microsoft that the glossary be launched sometime in August to coincide with the National Linggo ng Wika. In time to make the tech-savvy indios aware of the many possibilities both on and offline.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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