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Tense and sensibility

WILL: Wow, that's a toughie. Somebody's mad at you for not reading a script. If only there was a way to scan the letters on the page and somehow relay the information to your brain.

JACK: Uh, there is. It's called Braille.

--"Will & Grace" EP7.18 (The Fabulous Baker Boy)


Right now I find some of my stories, published and otherwise, downright cloying. Possibly because I've birthed them but unlike children, they don't develop on their own and I have to live with them. I feel that they're too, er, starbucksy, for lack of a better term, especially the dialogues when executed in English.

I once asked Dean and Ian on the matter of injecting Filipino sensibility in their stories. I had this vision of writers thinking in their local language before writing down in English. Or, for writers with deep pockets, hiring a competent translator. Talk about a two-step process that can marginalize world literature from the hegemony of English. I've heard that F. Sionil Jose thinks in Ilocano before writing down in English, but I still have to read some of his works and confirm (as if I'm native to Ilocano sensibility, but I'm a keen observer of our household).

Then there's also Manuel Arguilla whose famous work makes me want to step into an Amorsolo pastoral painting. I just don't know how he cuts himself apart from, say, John Steinbeck. If there is a literary counterpart to the concept of umami then this is it.

On top of holding proof that they are both citizens of the islands, one technique that Dean and Ian employ is the use of elements like "naming conventions, language patterns, choice of words, setting, character quirks, cosmetic details (ensaimada and mamon instead of pancakes and French toast)", or bringing in "loan words in Cebuano merging it with the English" but this is just the surface. Dean says subject and theme are still important. Bottomline, they both think in English and write in English.

Oh to write for an international audience ("fuck, I’ll write what I want, damn it", wrote Dean) and explain what the tabo is for.

“Tense and sensibility”

  1. Blogger christie Says:

    Ay, sorry, pero I cannot comment on the thinking in English chorva. Sobrang relate lang kasi ako sa TABO dahil:

    1. One time di ko rin ma-explain sa isang expat na possibleng hindi i-flush ang toilet paper kapag nag-number 2 ka. (Bothered kasi sya sa "Do not flush toilet paper, etc" signs sa CR.)Walang bidet ba yun? Miracle of tabo lang.

    2. Nung lumayas kami ng 3 wks para sa ibang bansa, insist ng ina ko na i-emapake ang tabo sa maleta.

    3. Nagtataka tuloy ako kung tayo lang ba sa buong mundo ang gumagamit ng tabo sa banyo?

    Yun lang. O di ba walang kwenta.