Google Philippines now hosts a site for COVID-19-related terms in Filipino and Cebuano

September 8, 2020 - 11:39 AM
People using smartphones
People using smartphones. (Pexels/Stock photo)

Understanding coronavirus disease-related words just got easier after Google Philippines collaborated with translators to help Filipinos understand crucial information in local languages.

The tech giant marked the Philippines’ “Buwan ng Wika” this year by launching a site of various terminologies related to COVID-19 in Filipino and Cebuano to help create an understanding of the viral disease, as well as words related to quarantine measures.

The initiative, “Isang Gabay sa mga Salitang Kaugnay ng COVID-19,” provides Filipino and Cebuano translations and definitions of featured terms, their part of speech and how they are used in a sentence.

The site is accessible to any device. It has a growing list of 115 commonly used words and phrases that include scientific and medical terminologies, as well as new vocabulary pertaining to the changes in business, education and the Filipinos’ way of life amid the pandemic.

“The pandemic continues to bring an overwhelming amount of information that we need to process every day. Based on Google Trends insights, a lot of Filipinos are looking for the meaning of COVID-19-related terminologies in our local languages,” Mervin Wenke, Google Philippines’ head of communication and public affairs, said.

“As a response and as a Buwan ng Wika initiative at the same time, we collaborated with experts to build a progressive site to help more Filipinos better understand COVID-19-related words in Filipino and Cebuano in one place. We hope that this will be useful as well to students and to those who seek to expand their knowledge,” he added.

An overview of Google Philippines’ initiative in collaboration with Filipino and Cebuano translators. (Photo from Google Philippines)

Filipino translations were taken care of by Assistant Professor Eilene Antoinette Narvaez of the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature. She is also a member of the Filipinas Institute of Translation.

The Cebuano translations, meanwhile, were handled by Hannah Marie Aranas who is a former literature teacher from the University of San Carlos’ Department of Languages and Literature. She is also a translator of COVID-19 materials.

The public can send suggestions or comments about the site by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

This year’s theme of “Buwan ng Wika” or the National Language Month is “Wika ng Kasaysayan, Kasaysayan ng Wika” which centers on the importance of Filipino and local languages in combatting the pandemic through information dissemination.

“Wika ang tulay sa paghahatid ng kamalayan sa sangkatauhan upang ang COVID-19 ay mapigilan. Tinitingnan dito ang Filipino at mga katutubong wika sa bansa bílang tagapamansag ng kolektibong paghahanap ng pag-asa sa gitna ng krisis o matinding pangangailangan,” Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino said.

“Hindi nga ba’t sa pagpapaunawa sa mga Filipino, sa anumang antas ng buhay, hinggil sa kinakaharap na sitwasyon, kadalasang napag-iiwanan ang mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan lalo’t banyaga ang wikang ginagamit sa pagpapaliwanag?” it added.

An online language app platform noted that the Philippines is considered “one of the most linguistically diverse countries on the planet” with 183 living languages on its belt.

The country’s official languages are Filipino and English but major regional languages that are spoken at home include Bisaya, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray and Kapampangan, among others.