Sunday, April 20, 2008


This is once again a repeat post. I wrote about the Pinoy mistake of saying "in abroad." Allow me to write about this again and talk about the dangers of literally translating one language into another.

I often hear my students saying "I want to work in abroad." At first, I didn't know where this expression was coming from. However, when I thought about it in Filipino, it made perfect sense. In Filipino, we say, "gusto ko magtrabaho sa ibang bansa." "Sa" is then literally translated into "in" which is why so many make the mistake of saying "in abroad."

I am really wondering what to do about this error. It occurs so often that sometimes, I'm not sure how to correct it as my students are so used to making the mistake. As with learning a new language, memorization is really the key. Students just have to get used to saying the proper, "I'd like to work abroad."

Now, literally translating one language into another is knows as transliteration. It doesn't work. Languages are, after all, very different from one another and although some words in one language do have equivalents in another, that is not always the case. If you insist on transliteration, you are liable to make mistakes. I mean, is there any English word for "pitik"?

Manny left me a question about my previous post. He wanted to know if certain sentences he came up with were correct (if you want to read them, check out the "comments" section of my post called "For a Total Purchase Of"). Manny, once again, thanks for the question. Both sentences are correct but I would not use either one. For something as simple as the mechanics for getting discounts, I would not use words like "accumulatively." Remember, English is not just about knowing words, it's also about knowing when to use the words. "Accumulatively" is too formal for something so casual. As for the second sentence, the expression "total spending" is correct; however, I think it's used for something larger than an individual's shopping habits; as in "the total spending of the Philippine government." Don't get me wrong, though. As I said, both sentences are correct. They're just inappropriate for that particular situation. I hope I answered your question?

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Manny said...

Hi Ma'am,

Thank you for answering my questions. I like my English grammar being corrected. I wish you had been my English teacher before I moved to the UK.