The Pinoy Version Further Explained: August 2020[1]

by Dr. Anicia del Corro, PBS Translation Consultant

1.0 Introduction [2]

I’m Anicia del Corro, the Translation Consultant for the Pinoy Version NT. It has been put under scrutiny in the past since its launching and publication on September 13, 2018. So, again, I think I have to speak to address some comments from the article mentioned.

It took PBS at least 10 years since the inception of the Pinoy NT in 2007 until its launching and publication in 2018. Much of the time was spent conceptualizing what kind of translation it was going to be, deciding on characteristics and features of the Scripture material, analyzing the nature of the need that it would fill, doing research on the audience that would use it before embarking on the work of Bible Translation.

We are grateful to God, that within the first year of its publication, PBS sold at least 100,000 copies—a first in the history of PBS.

1.1 I must say the article by Jacs T. Sampayan (JTS) on the Pinoy Version represents pretty much an accurate picture of what the Pinoy Version is. That is why, I will just go to those points that I think need further comment, correction or clarification. So, I am glad that the Pinoy Version has been correctly understood for the most part. Despite the novelty of the Scripture material, after a few months of speaking in different seminars, within a year at the most, it seemed that I have said enough to explain the basic principles that are applied in this new translation. The truth is, I am pleasantly surprised. The initial uproar settled down.

This was until St. Paul publications, and then ANC revived the interest again through their comments on the Pinoy Version. We at PBS are happy for this because it gives us a chance again to correct and clarify where and when it is necessary.

I will go to those specific parts of the article where I can give a fresh insight. There is no need to repeat what I have said in the past, and which is also mentioned, and deemed acceptable, by this article of JTS.

2.0 JTS claims that some people are “downright offended” by this version. It is unfortunate that some feel this way. We are confronted with the question what is the primary purpose a Bible translation aims to fulfill. To PBS, it is essential that Word of God is understood and appreciated. The language of the translation has to reflect the language of those reading it, the target audience. These are the youth of the National Capital Region, and within the age range of 15-35. When deciding on the way a verse is to be expressed, we had to ask, ‘is this the way a 15 year old will say it?’

3.0 JTS says the following, “Some of those who are against the translation, meanwhile, call the Taglish version blasphemous. Catechism shouldn’t be adjusted to the reader, they rally, and add that this version sacrifices the richness of the passages and their contextual meaning. It takes away from the holiness of the scriptures, emphatically throwing around words like ‘binababoy’ and ‘kanto.’”

To say that the Taglish version or the Pinoy Version is blasphemous is an opinion, it is not a fact. PBS has always believed that the Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God, as expressed in 2 Timothy 3:16. It is with this conviction and deep reverence that we treat every word in every translation published by PBS, the Pinoy Version included. Again, I think it is the informality that is mistaken for irreverence. The two have to be differentiated.

3.1 Our commitment to accuracy or faithfulness of the translation makes us translate in a way so that the translation is understood correctly by the target audience. Galatians 3:1-3a is a case in point.

Wala talaga kayong utak mga Galatians! Di kayo nag-iisip! Nakulam ba kayo?! Di ba ang linaw-linaw naman na namatay si Jesus Christ sa krus?! Sagutin nyo nga ako, paano nyo tinanggap ang Holy Spirit? Sa pagsunod nyo ba sa Jewish Law o dahil narinig nyo at naniwala kayo sa mensahe ng Magandang Balita? Mga bobo ba talaga kayo?

The Greek word for ‘bobo’ (‘anoetoi’) is used twice here, first in verse 1 and then in verse 3. The meaning of the Greek word is ‘stupid’. To make it less shocking at the start of a chapter, the first is rendered as ‘walang utak’. The second occurrence is in verse 3 rendered as ‘bobo’. Is that “binababoy”? “Salitang kanto”? ‘Bobo’ is faithful rendering of the Greek word ‘anoetoi’. Our commitment to accuracy or faithfulness of a translation can never be compromised. We make translation decisions for the best result. We had to decide which one from these three is the better choice: bobo, tanga, gago. The consensus was that ‘bobo’ was least offensive.

4.0 JTS makes a statement, “They sound like the Gospel according to St. Conyo of Taft Avenue/Katipunan.”

In my interest in sociolinguistics, I have never had any desire to describe or talk about conyo (Spanish ‘conio’). But this time, I will take time to talk about it because of the insinuation from some that the Pinoy version is written in conyo. I have to make a categorical statement, the heterogeneous language style of Pinoy NT is not conyo.

‘Conio’ is a vulgar Spanish idiom used in Spain and the Spanish Caribbean. Literally, it refers to the female genitalia. It can be used to express a strong emotion, similar to ‘damn’ in English. It falls under the category of profanity or socially offensive language. Related meanings are cussing, swear language or expletives. In the Philippines, however, conyo is used as a term referring to a certain group of people. An entry on WordSense states that “[it] refers to a wealthy Anglophone person raised and/or living in a gated community, though the term originally referred to insular Spaniards, regardless of socioeconomic status. However, it is also likely that the term was used by people of high society to denote mestizos or half-breeds, particularly when in the olden times the natives, formerly called indios, were taunted as being children of women who marry Peninsulares or Insulares in order to elevate their social status. The word Coño therefore became slang for harlotry.”[3] This seems to be a logical link to explain why conyo developed such a negative meaning.

4.1 Conyo as a language style used two languages, Spanish and the local language, in its original context. The following are examples from contemporary language using English and Tagalog:

4.1.1 Please make ligpit of the plates.[4] (Please clear out the plates.)

4.1.2 I don’t like her because she is making gulo my life. (I don’t like her because she is ruining my life.)

Conyo is rudimentary and underdeveloped, as it avoids complex grammatical processes such as inflection and derivation. That is why it uses only Tagalog root words most of the time.

Pinoy is quite different because the syntax of the basic sentence is Tagalog. When an English word is incorporated, the Pinoy style utilizes the full potential of the language to produce the most appropriate morphological or grammatical form of an English word.

4.2 Some examples are:

crineate            ‘created’            Heb 9:11

ine-expect        ‘is expecting’   Matt 9:15

prineach           ‘preached’        2 Cor 1:19

reding-ready    ‘being ready’   2 Tim 3:17

idi-deny             ‘will deny’      2 Tim 2:12

Nagse-share     ‘is sharing’       Mark 4:14

So, compared to Pinoy language, conyo is much simpler linguistically. The general sense of the word is considered sufficient. On the other hand, when an English word is borrowed in Pinoy, the English word is subjected to nativization. It undergoes a grammatical process which is most obvious through affixation. All sentences in the Pinoy NT are well-formed sentences, they are grammatical and acceptable to a native speaker.

5.0 Finally, JTS asks who can attest to the fact that printed the Pinoy Version indeed reflects the characteristics of the Pinoy language: “And who says that this is how their target reader talks anyway? Whose everyday tongue did they base this from?”

5.1 The Pinoy language is a dialect of Tagalog which is characterized as heterogeneous. The syntax is Tagalog but there are numerous instances of borrowing from English. I have studied this Pinoy variety since 2006. By then, it had already evolved as a result of all the social, political and historical events that transpired through the years. I documented these changes in two historical shifts: the first is the period 1970-1990 which saw a shift from the primary use of English to Filipino or Tagalog. The second historical period is 1991-2005. The result of this shift is the development of a heterogeneous language, the syntax of which is Tagalog with numerous borrowing from English. [5]

5.2 In the Pinoy variety, usually the underlying motivation to choose one form over another is to make language easy. This is the principle of parsimony or economy. It results from the desire of a speaker to use language the easiest way possible. To many speakers, a commonly used term is preferred because it is easy to recall. Until the 1990’s, English was used as the medium of instruction in many schools especially in the tertiary level. Filipinos who were students or professionals in the 70’s until the 90’s have acquired high proficiency in the English language. Some continued to maintain it but for others, as the exposure to English declined, the syntax was the first to be dropped. It is the English lexicon that continued to remain in the consciousness of many Filipinos. It is, therefore, not surprising that content words in English are used a lot in a Tagalog sentence.

I am going to use the chart below to show a comparison of some features between the Pinoy Version and the Magandang Balita Biblia (MBB) 2005 so that the reader will know some peculiarities of the Pinoy language.

John 3:22

MBB

Pagkatapos nito, si Jesus at ang kanyang mga alagad ay nagpunta sa lupain ng Judea. Nanatili siya roon nang kaunting panahon na kasama nila at nagbautismo ng mga tao.

Magandang Balita BibliaPinoy Version 
  Pagkatapos   ‘after’    AfterAfter The preference for ‘after’ is characteristic of a heterogeneous language translation, here using English. ‘After’ is short, two-syllable word compared to the polysyllabic ‘pagkatapos’. In other occurrences of ‘pagkatapos’, this is sometimes shortened to ‘tapos’.
  Alagad ‘disciple’;
‘follower’
  DisciplesAlagad is formal and archaic. Pinoy uses the common term, ‘disciples’.  
  Nanatili  ‘stayed’    Nag-stayThe English ‘stay has been so convenient to use in Pinoy ‘nag-stay’ because it is short compared with the corresponding Tagalog word ‘nanatili’, with 4 syllables. It also sounds formal.

Pinoy NT

After nito, pumunta si Jesus at ang mga disciples nya sa Judea. Nag-stay sya dun ng ilang araw kasama sila at nag-baptize sya ng mga tao.


Even if I have studied the Pinoy variety since 2006, knowing its characteristics is not unique to me. Knowing which word to choose or which syntactic construction to use in the most natural way is a shared phenomenon by speakers of the same language. The proof is that I have trained some of its speakers to become the Pinoy translators of the New Testament. What was necessary in the training of translators was making the speakers aware that the heterogenous nature of the Pinoy variety has become the normative way to speak in the contemporary context of Filipinos especially in the National Capital Region, both in spoken and written form.

In language, there are two approaches in viewing language use. In the descriptive approach, the analyst observes how people use language and then describes its features. In the prescriptive approach, the analyst imposes a particular way a language should be used. For example, one who likes to prescribe may not allow language users to borrow from another language. Not borrowing has become increasingly difficult for the modern day Filipino. The Pinoy Version is descriptive of today’s language rather than prescriptive.

5.3 Let me now answer the questions raised at the start of this section 5.0.

Who can attest to the fact that printed Pinoy Version indeed reflects the characteristics of the Pinoy language? Who says this is how the target reader talks? Whose everyday tongue did they base this from?

To all these questions, the response is this: Language decisions are collective decisions. When one decides that a particular expression reflects the Pinoy variety, that person does so as part of a group or community. The person always asks, “Is this the most natural way to say this?”, for example when using ‘after’ instead of ‘pagkatapos’ in John 3:22. Or when ‘nag-stay’ is used instead of ‘nanatili’. In a translation team, members continue to discuss the rendering of a word, phrase or passage until they reach a consensus. This practice is done consistent to principles of Bible translation, making sure that the word or expression to be used in the Bible is not just the idiolect of one Bible translator. That is why the Pinoy Version NT represents a collective decision of a team of trained translators and the translation process has met all requirements of the Philippine Bible Society and the United Bible Societies.

6.0. Pinoy Bible for the Philippines

We at PBS have this opportunity to explore an uncharted road to produce a heterogeneous language translation, the Pinoy Version. The books of Psalms and Proverbs are finished and may soon be launched by the end of 2020. The rest of the books of the Old Testament are now being translated.  

The Philippine Bible Society continues to encourage a healthy discussion of the translation principles used in its Scripture materials.


 


[1] This is a response to the article by Jacs T. Sampayan: A Taglish Version of the New Testament was just made available… and some people are angry.

[2] For further reading: Del Corro, Anicia. The Pinoy Version New Testament: A Phenomenon in Linguistics, The Archive Special Publication No. 16, Current Studies in Philippine Linguistics. Nov 2019.

[3] https://www.wordsense.eu/co%C3%B1o/

[4] https://kami.com.ph/107075-conyo-what-is-it-20-funny-examples.html

[5] See Del Corro, 2019.

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