Friday, December 5, 2008

Bolero Ka Ba?

Most of my non-Filipino speaking friends do not understand that question and it’s funny how they’d scour the internet just to find out what it means.

Thank God, Google now translates Filipino into many other languages or vice-versa.

I could honestly say that Filipino is one of the harder languages to translate especially since words can mean differently when you add “na” “an” “”han” “um” like with the word kain which can go as “kumain” “kumakain” “kainan” ‘nakain”. And our language evolves so much that Filipinos who left the country 2 decades ago probably wouldn’t understand the terms we currently use.

I was very excited when I found out about Google Translate. Before it had Filipino in it (first in Southeast Asia mind you!), I used it already to translate some emails I’d get in other languages (some of my friends like giving me a hard time) and whenever I do research I ran into websites written in other languages. It’s just a click away to translate!

I thought it was quite impossible to translate our language that easily. The Google translation tool though is not based on the work of linguists (there aren’t any people typing madly in the back-end to translate stuff you put in), but it’s a machine translation based on an algorithm and not rules. I’ve been reading “Planet Google” lately and it’s interesting to understand better how Google actually does it.

Google Translate provides us an easy tool to understand other languages and having Filipino in it is very helpful too! Although if you're going to be making marketing collaterals better have a linguist involved in it to be sure. 

So, bolero ka ba? actually asks, "Are you a gigolo?" Haha.


  1. Finally, a traslator from Filipino to English and vice-versa! I think "Tagalog" would be more fitting though because "Filipino" implies an unwritten set of strict rules, whereas Tagalog is more like a combination of different languages and dialects, which is what we use in day-to-day conversations.

    BTW "bolero ka ba?" now translates to "bolero you?". :)

  2. @mars thanks for dropping by, Filipino though is our national language as promulgated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution =)

  3. > kain which can go as “kumain” “kumakain” “kainan” ‘nakain”

    kain is the infinitive (to eat)
    kumain is the interrogative/imperative tense
    kumakain is the present participle
    kainan is a noun (not a verb)
    nakain .. im not sure about this one ..

  4. @rmacapobre nakain is usually used as slang for "he's eating", you'd here it a lot when you're in southern Luzon =)

  5. bolero turns out is a spanish dance. how we transformed it to mean a tease .. i dont know .. ;p

  6. @rmacapobre could also mean the mini-jacket haha.

  7. Tried Google translate. Had fun translating may daughter's expressions and nursery rhymes. Kaloka yung iba, sobrang , literal!