FRANCESCO Petrarch had said that translation should be similar to the original but not the very same. This was the focus during the 2nd Ophelia Dimalanta Memorial Lecture last Nov. 28 as literary critic Isagani R. Cruz discussed Dimalanta’s unpublished play and its counterpart translation by poet Michael Coroza.

Dimalanta, known for her erotic and prolific poems, in her finals days wrote the play entitled “Thomas Aquinas in a Minor Key in three acts” as a fictional account of the title character. Coroza, who teaches at the UST Graduate School, provided the Filipino translation that will be published alongside Dimalanta’s work in February next year.

Cruz said that there were a lot of differences between Dimalanta’s play and Coroza’s translation in terms of their gendered writing, the taste in word usage, and the different cultures of the language used that affect the work had been of the issue.

He added that bilingual literary theories are not common and had urged the audience to actively participate in the forging of new and better theories that will cater to a bilingual reading culture—especially for Filipinos.

Western literary thought had a very shallow understanding of translated work, he said.

“The reader must read both the English and Filipino [versions of the play] to get the full power of the work,” Cruz said.

But translation does not only pertain to the written. In the case of Dimalanta’s work, translation can also happen when the play is adapted on the stage. Cruz said that it is not common that the written piece and the play onstage differ with interpretation and stage direction. He even added that sometimes stage directions are not often followed by the director and are only present for the reader’s sake.

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“We’re reading both the author and the interpreter,” Cruz said.

Moreover, Cruz said that some plays in the University of the Philippines are done twice—one time in Filipino and another time in English, but maintains the same actors and stage directions to emphasized that despite the slight variation in language, the impact is somewhat different.

“[We] must come up with a new process for reading translations, and I believe we aren’t the only ones bothered by this. it is up to you to make the theory,” he said.

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