“Please…draw me a sheep” is coming soon in Chavacano!
While Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) written by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry in 1943 now has over 300 translations in different languages worldwide and is now considered the world’s most translated book (not counting religious works), there are surprisingly only two translations of his book in the Philippines (Filipino and Bicol).
The Little Prince is a story about a pilot who gets lost in the desert and encounters a little fellow who asks him to draw a sheep for him. Through the course of their meeting, the pilot rediscovers the true meaning of life and what people should value the most.
Jerome Herrera, translator of The Little Prince into the Chavacano language came across the book in 2014. He found that he could relate very well to the negative image given to “growing up” in the book. When the idea to translate the book into his mother tongue was presented to him, he didn’t think twice. “I thought, ‘ a lot of people my age have forgotten the art of making friends and are too concerned about worldly matters like money’. Being able to convey this message from the book in Chavacano was just simply too good a project to pass,” Herrera said.
Chavacano is one of only two Spanish-based creole languages in the world and is considered as one of the world’s oldest creole languages. While it has a special place in the field of linguistics, Chavacano speakers themselves fail to recognize the beauty and uniqueness of their language.
“It is lamentable that most Chavacano speakers think lowly of their language. They think that speaking Filipino is cooler. This is what I wanted to change. I wanted to change the perception that Chavacano speakers have of their language as well as introduce Chavacano to the world through El Diutay Principe. I invested heavily in the book because I wanted it to look perfect. I didn’t just want to translate the book into Chavacano, I wanted something that will make Chavacano speakers think, ‘Oh, look. Someone went through all this trouble to create this good-looking book. So Chavacano must be special.’ Because when we look at, for example, TV programs produced locally in Chavacano, most of them look tired and old, like nobody wants to bother to invest in new equipment to produce better quality TV programs. So what does that tell the people who speak Chavacano? That Chavacano is a third-class language? That it does not deserve any attention whatsoever? This is one of the things that the book hopes to change. I wanted a book that will give Chavacano dignity and elevate its prestige,” Herrera said.
Jerome Herrera hopes that the book will aid greatly in Chavacano becoming a standardized written language in the future and that it will be the start of a long list of published Chavacano books.
“The book will contain a glossary for better comprehension and to widen the reader’s Chavacano vocabulary. So it is also a good material for teaching the language,” Herrera said. In 2012, the DepEd implemented the Mother Tongue-Based Curriculum which aims to faciliate learning using a child’s first language.
El Diutay Principe is going to be self-published by the translator and will be out in September 2018. To read an excerpt from the book, please visit rebrand.ly/edppdf.
More details and updates can be found at www.facebook.com/eldiutayprincipe.
If you wish to support this project, please answer this short survey jeromeherrera.typeform.com/to/WFOuXy.
To learn more about the Chavacano language, you may visit the translator’s blog at bienchabacano.blogspot.com.