The Linguist

The Linguist 58,5 - October/November 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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32 The Linguist Vol/58 No/5 2019 INSTITUTE MATTERS A life with languages In his native Tagalog and English, Jake Irwin Estrada explains how his determination to promote the local Philippines language led to a successful career as a localisation specialist I spent most of my childhood helping to tend my mother's roadside store before and after school; one could say that my career started out in that tiny space. It is where I learned how language and business are inherently intertwined. I grew up in a home where four languages were spoken. Aside from English and Tagalog (Filipino), my father spoke Pangasinense (a north Philippines language) whenever his relatives visited, and my mother spoke Rinconada (from the Bicol region) with my aunts and uncles. This multilingual set-up is not uncommon in the Philippines, where most people are at least bilingual (in Tagalog and English). All our road signs, product labels, and even our contracts and forms, are in English, and there has been a deterioration in the quality of writing in our national language. It was when I noticed that one of the products we sold in the shop offered information in a foreign language that I realised that the practice of multilingual labelling was not just for show. I found myself in an archipelago with 100+ indigenous languages where the appeal of the local culture had been lost. Yet I now saw that in many parts of the world, companies sold products in their customers' native languages. The market niche that I had stumbled upon – offering localisation services from English into Tagalog – was a natural fit. My early clients came from academia and non-profit organisations, including the American Red Cross. My big break came when I was asked to localise Nokia's mobile phones in 2001. At the time, no mobile phone manufacturer had Tagalog or Filipino in their UI language set. It was a huge job, so I founded what turned out to be one of Asia's first localisation service providers, QwertyWorks, and began hiring team members. We went on to localise the world's foremost search engine and social media network. Today, QwertyWorks has a roster of more than 400 language and culture professionals from 72 countries. We reinvest a portion of our profits into products and services promoting the development of Tagalog and other Philippine languages. As part of QwertyWorks' corporate social responsibility initiative, my wife Judy and I send out children's books in the major languages of the Philippines for free through It is our attempt to instil a love for reading in the country. A ng malaking bahagi ng aking pagkabata ay iginugol sa pagbabantay ng munting tindahan ng aking ina, bago at matapos akong pumasok sa eskwela; masasabing ang aking karera ay nagsimula sa munting puwestong iyon. Doon ko natutunan kung gaano kalalim ang ugnayan ng wika at pagnenegosyo. Lumaki ako sa isang tahanan na apat ang wikang sinasalita. Bukod sa Ingles at Tagalog (Filipino), ang aking ama ay nakikipag-usap sa wikang Pangasinense (mula sa hilagang Pilipinas) tuwing bibisita ang kanyang mga kamag-anak; ganoon din ang aking ina, na nagsasalita ng Rinconada (isang wika mula sa mas mala-Timog na rehiyon ng Bikol) tuwing pupunta sa amin ang aking mga tiya at tiyo mula sa kanyang panig. Ang ganitong pagkamulat sa iba't- ibang wika ay pangkaraniwan sa Pilipinas; palibhasa't halos lahat ng mga Pilipino ay marunong magsalita ng dalawang wika (Tagalog at Ingles). Ang aming mga karatula sa kalye, ang mga etiketa ng aming mga produkto, pati ang mga kontrata at dokumento namin ay nasa wikang Ingles, at humihina na ang kalidad ng pagsusulat sa aming pambansang wika. Nang mapansin ko na ang pabalat ng isang produktong inilalako sa munting tindahan namin ay may taglay na mga titik sa iba pang wikang banyaga ay napag-alaman ko na ang paggamit ng iba't-ibang wika sa mga etiketa at pabalat ay hindi

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