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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Dangers of Being Literal in Language Learning


One of the things to remember in language learning is the limitation to being literal in translating one language to another.  Therefore, direct translation is not reliable at all times although it may work in some situations.  Here is an example:

Using wala and naa:  

In English, wala means none or nothing because wala is basically something is non-existent.  Wala may have other uses as a negative word but by itself, it means none or nothing.  

So:  If I want to say:  "I have money."    

Directly translated to Cebuano, it is:  
Naa koy kwarta.  (Naa for have, ko for I, kwarta for money, y is a floating linker)

How then will I say:  "I have no money."?

This here is the tricky part.  Some learners will say:  Wala naa koy kwarta.   This is being literal.  I always tell my learners, you can't use wala and naa at the same time because it will create confusion to the listener.  

The opposite of naa is wala and the opposite of wala is naa.  Some places in the Visayas use duna (or aduna) instead of naa (or anaa).  This is what we call variation.


Here is another situation:

I ran for 30 minutes.  In Visayan, this should be:  Nidagan ko og 30 minutos.  The literal translation of for in Visayan is para, but in this case, you can not use para.  In stating a duration, og is the more accurate word to use.  Therefore:

I ran for 30 minutes = Nidagan ko og 30 minutos.  

Still confused in using og and para?  Stay tuned for the next ish.... 


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