Fiction Nation: Lost (and Found!) In Translation

by Allana Luta

This month’s Fiction Nation is not exactly an “adaptation” but a translated version. I decided to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in *drum roll* Filipino! (It’s not strictly Tagalog because English words are sprinkled here and there.)

This edition was given to me a couple of Christmases ago and I only got around to reading it last month. I kept putting it off for a couple of reasons: 1) I don’t like re-reading the same book, even if it’s Harry Potter, because I get bored, and 2) it’s in Filipino.

Let me be frank: I don’t read books in Filipino. I wish I could say otherwise but the only Tagalog books I picked up were the ones required in high school. Heck, I even did everything I could to avoid classes in Filipino back in college!

It’s not that I hate our national language, it’s just that Tagalog has always been a weak spot for me, growing up in a Visayan household and studying in a school that put a premium on learning English over Filipino. Thus, it’s easier for me to digest words in English.

But last month being Buwan ng Wika and all, I decided to give this “tagalized” Harry Potter a go. And surprise, surprise! It’s… quite fun???

I thought the use of Taglish (Tagalog + English for our non-Filipino readers) would grate on my nerves. The first sentence reads:

Ipinagmamalaki nina Mr. at Mrs. Dursley ng number four, Prive Drive na normal sila…

…and I hesitated to continue. But thankfully the rest of the book wasn’t so bad.

I think Becky Bravo did a good job translating the book. She retained certain words in English and the tone was conversational and easy to understand, as if it were a friend of mine telling me a story about a magical boy. Though finding spells and magical terms amidst of Filipino words was funny at first, it eventually felt natural as I read along and I barely noticed it anymore in the latter chapters. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in Tagalog will forever be amusing, though.

I did wonder, however, if I would still find the story as engaging if I didn’t already know what was going to happen. If this edition was given to nine-year-old me, would I have appreciated the story as much? If we couldn’t understand English and only spoke Tagalog, would we be interested in translated versions or stick with our local novels? How do countries with little English-speaking skills deal with the knowledge that great books are out there but only in English? Oh my gosh, there must be thousands of amazing, life-changing books out there that aren’t in English or Filipino and we won’t ever get to read them WHY CAN’T WE SPEAK ALL THE LANGUAGES IN THE WORLD.

*ahem* Got a little bit excited back there. Anyway, have you read Western books that have been translated to Filipino? And what are some of your favorite translated novels, from whatever language to English or vice versa? (Looking at you, Haruki Murakami fans.) Share it with us in the comments below! 





12 responses to “Fiction Nation: Lost (and Found!) In Translation”

  1. Mariz Avatar

    I found the Filipino translation hilarious and yet charming, so I wish the rest will be translated!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bookbed Avatar

      Sana nga! 🙂


      1. Larah Avatar

        I’m wanting to get my hands on the Filipino versions so badly. I’m learning Tagalog and it’s perfect reading material considering I already know the story!!


    2. Maria Christensen Avatar
      Maria Christensen

      I have been looking all over for this book, where can I buy it?
      Is yours for sale?


  2. Crossed Wires: The Necessity of Translation | bookbed Avatar

    […] reaction isn’t something new. (Case in point, right here on bookbed: Allana’s thoughts about reading books in Filipino.) It seems to be the knee-jerk reaction to anything we like that is translated/dubbed into our […]


  3. Voyaging with Sula (plus a giveaway!) | bookbed Avatar

    […] see if the narration flows differently when written in the local language. I’ve said before that I don’t really read books written in Filipino but I’m willing to read Sula’s Voyage again in […]


  4. Maria Christensen Avatar
    Maria Christensen

    I have been looking all over for this book, where can I buy it?
    Is yours for sale?


    1. Bookbed Avatar

      Hi! We found a copy at the National Book Store, but Lampara Books should carry this title. Thanks for reading!


  5. Larah Avatar

    Dying to get my hands on this!! I’m learning Tagalog and it’s perfect reading material since I already know the story!


    1. Bookbed Avatar

      Thank you for reading! We hope you get a copy soon.


  6. Lakerfan Avatar

    Sadly, the sequels for the book series did not happen again because some Reddit user said that it sold poorly, just only about 1000 copies. To make things worst, President Jun Matias of Lamapra and PPC said that the next book, Chamber of Secrets, will be translated in Tagalog. But, for unknown reasons, possibly due to licensing issues or something, it will never happen.


    1. Bookbed Avatar

      Thank you for reading our post! Sadly, this can be the case for many of the translated works. Hopefully, things get sorted, and more readers can pick up and appreciate these books!


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