Initial public offering


I once accompanied my friend, Chi Le, to one of the many ‘street bookstores’ in Hanoi. And there I was amazed at my first site of books, piled on top of each other beside a busy highway, by the world’s greatest writers: Borges, Sinclair Lewis, Camus, Flaubert, Hemingway, Buck in Tieng Viet, Vietnam’s national language.

Although most Vietnamese college students do not read and write in English, this does not mean, however, that they are deprived of the chance to read these classics of world Literature. In fact, having these books in their language places them at an advantage because the burden brought by mentally translating every word and phrase has already been eliminated allowing them to proceed in doing something of even greater importance, and that is seeing themselves and their experiences in the context of these works.

Most Vietnamese students are knowledgeable about these great authors and their works only that they learned about them in their native language. It is worth noting, nonetheless, that most of these works that are considered canons were originally written in a different language, not in English, as these are mostly English translations.

In the Philippines, things are totally different. Most Filipinos look down on works written in Filipino or any regional language. No one is interested in translating these works to Filipino because reading them in English is more ‘convenient’, some are even skeptical that Filipino has enough stock of words in its vocabulary to accurately capture the thoughts in the original work. Some would even declare that English is easier to read and understand than Filipino

But who do we fool? Our students’ English proficiency is on a rapid decline. The ubiquity of BPO companies in the country is giving us a skewed perception of the general condition of the use of English in the country. Granting that we’re able to mimic the American twang or the British nonchalance when speaking, we’re missing the point if majority of the population is living in the darkness of assumed literacy.

And from this something got through me. This blog Salìn, a Filipino word that means ‘translated’ is the product of this desire to make these works more accessible to the reading public. As an initial public offering, I am posting here my translation of an article written by my favorite essayist Umberto Eco. In the mean time, as I am yet to develop fluidity in style and faithfulness to the originals, I shall begin translating shorter articles by Eco from his brief anthology of essays called “How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays” and will eventually try doing more ambitious translation projects.




8 thoughts on “Initial public offering”

  1. i’b, thanks for spending time tinkering with the spam setting just so your pirandello link could get through the posted comments. i’ll check on the link. i’ll also try to re-customize my spam blocker.

    all the best to you as well.

  2. yes, found a way to fool your spam settings, i guess, as tested out in the previous entry, only it’s gonna look like i’m clogging your comments box. so here goes:
    A. the entry above becomes a link if you delete the figures in brackets and try to put the link together again by deleting the space in between. the last comment entry leads to the short story ‘quando si comprendre’ itself, otherwise known as ‘war’ in eng by luigi pirandello.
    B. the index leading to the above link includes other short stories in the original italian versions as well, in case you have them in english, put the link below together just as for above:
    1) http:// 2) 3)index159.htm
    all the best.

  3. have you sent your comments section to filter out links? been trying for ages to send the pirandello short story in italian link, doesn’t get thru. lands in spam, i guess.

  4. i.b, true. i think that that is the case in the philippines. as most translation projects here are based in the academe rather than in the private sector, the implication is that they are not readily available for public consumption.

    let’s start small.

  5. bravo for any initiative to make more stuff available in tagalog or even in hiligaynon or cebuano, if not in all philippine languages. but mind you, making dostoeivski or orwell available to the ‘masa’ is probably not on the agenda of insecure politicians, who might understand less of it than the intelligent but less economically fortunate (or shall we say less brazenly opportunist) jeepney driver, for example.

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