Tagalog language

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Tagalog (Tagalog)
Spoken in: Philippines
Region: Central & south Luzon
Total speakers: First language:22 million

Second language:50 million

Ranking: 58
Genetic classification: Austronesian

    Central Philippine

Official status
Official language of: Philippines (as Filipino)
Regulated by: Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
(Commission on the Filipino Language)
Language codes
ISO 639-1tl
ISO 639-2tgl
See also: LanguageList of languages

Tagálog is one of the major languages of the Republic of the Philippines.

Being an Austronesian language, it is related to Indonesian, Malay, Fijian, Maori (of New Zealand), Hawaiian, Malagasy (of Madagascar), Samoan, Tahitian, Chamorro (of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), Tetum (of East Timor), and Paiwan (of Taiwan).



The word Tagalog was derived from tagá-ílog, from tagá- meaning "native of" and ílog meaning "river", thus, it means "resident beside the river." Since there are no written samples of Tagalog before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, very little is known about the history of the language. However there is speculation among linguists that the ancestors of the Tagalogs originated, along with their Central Philippine cousins, from northeastern Mindanao or eastern Visayas.

The first known book to be written in Tagalog is the Doctrina Cristiana (Christian Doctrine) of 1593. It was written in Spanish and two versions of Tagalog; one written in Baybayin and the other in the Latin alphabet.

Throughout the 300 years of Spanish occupation, there have been grammars and dictionaries written by Spanish clergymen such as Vocabulario de la lengua tagala (1835) and Arte de la lengua tagala y manual tagalog para la adminstración de los Santos Sacramentos (1850).

Poet Francisco "Balagtas" Baltazar (1788-1862) is often regarded as the Tagalog equivalent of William Shakespeare. His most famous work is the early 19th-century Florante at Laura.


Tagalog is a Central Philippine language within the Austronesian language family.

It is closely related to the languages spoken in the Bicol and Visayas regions such as Bikol, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, and Cebuano.

Languages that have made significant contributions to Tagalog are Spanish, Fukien Chinese, English, Malay, Sanskrit (via Malay), Arabic (via Malay/Spanish), and Northern Philippine languages such as Kapampangan spoken on the island of Luzon.

Geographic distribution

The Tagalog homeland, or Katagalugan, covers roughly much of the central to southern parts of the island of Luzon - particularly in Aurora, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Metro Manila, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, and Rizal. Tagalog is also spoken natively by inhabitants living on the islands of Lubang, Marinduque, and the northern and eastern parts of Mindoro. According to the Philippine Census of 2000, 21,485,927 out of 76,332,470 Filipinos claimed Tagalog as their first language. An estimated 50 million Filipinos speak it in varying degrees in proficiency.

Tagalog speakers are to be found in other parts of the Philippines as well as throughout the world; it is the sixth most-spoken language in the United States.

Official status

After weeks of study and deliberation, Tagalog was chosen by the National Language Institute, a committee composed of seven members who represented various regions in the Philippines. President Manuel L. Quezon then proclaimed Tagalog the national language or wikang pambansâ of the Philippines on December 30, 1937. This was made official upon the Philippines' restoration of independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

From 1961 to 1987, Tagalog was also known as Pilipino. In 1987, the name changed to Filipino.

Since 1940, Tagalog has been taught in schools throughout the Philippines. It is the only one out of over 160 Philippine languages that is officially taught in schools.


Ethnologue lists Lubang, Manila, Marinduque, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Tanay-Paete, and Tayabas as dialects of Tagalog. However, there appears to be four main dialects of which the aforementioned are a part; Northern, Central (including Manila), Southern, and Marinduque.

While the dialects have their own peculiarities, they are generally mutually intelligible with each other. Perhaps the most divergent Tagalog dialect is the one spoken on Marinduque; it has many features found in Visayan languages such as different verbal affixes.

Some examples of dialectal variations are the interjections ala e, in Batangas Tagalog and ya in Tayabas Tagalog. Other examples also include dini/dine (Standard Tagalog dito, here), tampal (Standard sampal, slap), and salapî (Standard sampúng sentimo 10 centavos)

Derived languages

Frequent contact between Tagalog speakers and Spanish speakers have given way to Philippine Creole Spanish or Chabacano. There are three known varieties of Chabacano which have Tagalog as their substrate language: Caviteńo, Ternateńo, and Ermitańo. Ermitańo is said to be extinct.


Code-switching is prevalent in the Philippines. The most common form of code-switching is between Tagalog and English called Taglish.

The intensity of code-switching varies. It can be as simple as one-word borrowings.

Nasirŕ ang computer ko kahapon!
"My computer broke yesterday!"

The language can even change in mid-sentence.

Huwág kang maninigarilyo, because it is harmful to your health."
"Never smoke cigarettes, ..."

Although it's generally looked down upon, code-switching is prevalent in all levels of society, though urban-dwellers and those born around World War II are more likely to do it. Politicians like President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have code-switched in interviews.

It is common in television, radio, and print media as well. In the US, advertisements for companies like Wells Fargo or Albertson's have had Taglish on them.

The Chinese and the non-Tagalog communities also frequently code-switch their language, be it Cebuano or Min Nan Chinese, with Taglish.


In urban areas, the phenomena of binaliktad (reversed) may be heard but is not very common. Equivalents in other languages are vesre and verlan. The following are some examples:

  • Erpat from pater (father)
  • Ermat from mater (mother)
  • Sanpits from pinsan (cousin)
  • Yosi from sigarilyo (cigarettes)
  • Todits from dito (here)
  • Wetpaks from pwet (buttocks)
  • Dehins from hindi/hinde (No, not) (Hindî is commonly, though by no means always, pronounced /hinˇdę/.)
  • Jeproks (well-dressed casually) from the Projects (The name of a middle class residential area in Quezon City)
  • Japorms from porma (well-dressed)
  • Oblo from loób (inside)
  • Senglot from lasing (drunk) (Lasíng is mostly pronounced /laˇséng/.)
  • Ngetpa from pangit/panget (ugly) (Pangit is mostly pronounced /paˇnget/.)
  • Astíg from tigás (hard, strong)
  • Atík from kita (income)
  • Lóngkatuts from katulong (maid, helper)


Template:IPA notice Tagalog has 21 phonemes; 16 consonants and five vowels. Syllable structure is relatively simple. Each syllable contains at least a consonant and a vowel.


Before the arrival of the Spanish, Tagalog had three vowel phonemes: , , and . This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish words.

They are:

There are four main diphthongs; , , , and .


Below is a chart of Tagalog consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.

Bilabial Dental /
Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops Voiceless p t k -
Voiced b d g
Affricates Voiceless (ts, tiy)
Voiced (diy)
Fricatives s (siy) h
Nasals m n ng
Laterals l
Flaps r
Semivowels w y


Stress is phonemic in Tagalog. Primary stress occurs on either the last or the next-to-the syllable of a word. Vowel lengthening accompanies primary or secondary stress except when stress occurs at the end of a word.


  • is raised slightly in unstressed positions
  • Unstressed is usually pronounced as in English "bit"
  • At the end of a word, can be pronounced as or .
  • and can sometimes be pronounced as and
  • Unstressed is usually pronounced as in English "book"
  • The diphthong at the beginning or middle of the word can also be pronounced
  • The diphthong at the beginning or middle of the word can also be pronounced
  • has a tendency to become between vowels as in German "bach"
  • and are sometimes interchangeable as and are allophones in Tagalog.
  • A glottal stop that occurs at the end of a word is often omitted when it's in the middle of a sentence.

Historical sound changes

Tagalog differs from its Central Philippine counterparts with its treatment of the Proto-Philippine schwa vowel . In Bikol & Visayan, this sound merged with and . In Tagalog, it has merged with . For example, Proto-Philippine (adhere, stick) is Tagalog dikít and Visayan & Bikol dukot.

Proto-Philippine , , and merged with but is between vowels. Proto-Philippine (name) and (kiss) became Tagalog ngalan and halík.

Proto-Philippine merged with . (water) and (blood) became Tagalog tubig and dugô.


Main article: Tagalog grammar

Writing system


Main article: Baybayin

Tagalog was written in an abugida called Baybayin prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. This particular writing system was composed of symbols representing three vowels and 14 consonants. Belonging to the Brahmic family of scripts, it shares similarities with the old Kavi script of Java and is believed to be descended from the script used by the Bugis in Sulawesi.

Although it enjoyed a relatively high level of literacy, the script gradually fell into disuse in favor of the Latin alphabet during Spanish colonial rule.

Latin alphabet

Until the first half of the 20th century, Tagalog was widely written in a variety of ways based on Spanish orthography. When Tagalog became the national language, grammarian Lope K. Santos introduced a new alphabet consisting of 20 letters called ABAKADA in school grammar books called balarilŕ; A B K D E G H I L M N NG O P R S T U W Y.

The alphabet was again expanded in 1976 to include the letters C, CH, F, J, Q, RR, V, X, and Z in order to accommodate words of Spanish and English origin.

The most recent reform of the alphabet occurred in 1987. The number of letters was reduced from 33 to 28; A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ń Ng O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.


Diacritics are normally not written in practice. However, they are usually used in dictionaries or in textbooks suited to those learning the language.

There are three kinds of diacitics used in Tagalog:

Acute accent or pahilís 
Used to indicate primary or secondary stress on a particular syllable. It is usually omitted on words that are stressed on the penultimate syllable; talagá.
Grave accent or paiwŕ 
Placed only on the last syllable. It indicates that there is a glottal stop at the end of the word and that penultimate syllable receives stress; mabutě.
Circumflex accent or pakupyâ 
Placed only on the last syllable. It indicates that the final syllable of a word receives stress while there is a glottal stop that follows; sampű.

ng and mga

The genitive marker ng and the plural marker mga are abbreviations that are pronounced nang and mangá .

Vocabulary and borrowed words

Tagalog vocabulary is composed mostly of words of Austronesian origin with borrowings from Spanish, Min Nan Chinese (also known as Hokkien or Fujianese), English, Malay, Sanskrit, Arabic, Tamil, Persian, Kapampangan, languages spoken on Luzon, and others, especially other Austronesian languages.

Tagalog words of foreign origin chart

See main article: Tagalog loanwords

For the Min Nan Chinese borrowings, the parentheses indicate the equivalent in standard Chinese.

Tagalog meaning language of origin original spelling
dasál pray Spanish rezar
kabayo horse Spanish caballo
silya chair Spanish silla
kotse car Spanish coche
sabón soap Spanish jabón
relós watch Spanish reloj
tsismis gossip Spanish chismes
gyera, gera war Spanish guerra
tsinelas slippers Spanish chinelas
sapatos shoes Spanish zapatos
harina flour Spanish harina
sugál gambling Spanish jugar
baryo village Spanish barrio
swerte luck Spanish suerte
nars nurse English  
bolpen ballpoint pen English  
drayber driver English  
traysikel tricycle English  
lumpia spring roll Min Nan Chinese 潤餅 (春捲)
siopao steamed buns Min Nan Chinese 燒包 (肉包)
pansít noodles Min Nan Chinese 便食 (麵)
susě key Min Nan Chinese 鎖匙
kuya older brother Min Nan Chinese 哥亜 (哥仔)
ate older sister Min Nan Chinese 亜姐 (阿姐)
bwisit annoyance Min Nan Chinese 無衣食
bakyâ wooden shoes Min Nan Chinese 木履
hikaw earrings Min Nan Chinese 耳鈎 (耳環)
kanan right Malay kanan
tulong help Malay tolong
tanghali afternoon Malay tengah hari
dalamhatě grief Malay dalam + hati
luwalhatě glory Malay luwar + hati
duryán durian Malay durian
rambutan rambutan Malay rambutan
batik spot Malay batik
saráp delicious Malay sedap
asa hope Sanskrit आशा
salitâ speak Sanskrit चरितँ
balitŕ news Sanskrit वार्ता
karma karma Sanskrit  
alak liquor Persian الكل
mangga mango Tamil mankay
bagay thing Tamil /vakai/
hukom judge Arabic حكم
salamat thanks Arabic سلامة
bakit why Kapampangan obakit
akyát climb Kapampangan akyát
at and Kapampangan at
bundók mountain Kapampangan bunduk
huwag don't Pangasinan ag
aso dog Luzon languages aso
tayo we (inc.) Luzon languages  

Austronesian comparison chart

Below is a chart of Tagalog and thirteen other Austronesian languages comparing twelve words; the first twelve languages are spoken in the Philippines and the other two are spoken in Indonesia and in Hawai'i.

  one two three four person house dog coconut day new we (inc.) what
Tagalog isa dalawa tatlo apat tao bahay aso niyog araw bago tayo ano
Bikol saro duwa tulo apat tawo harong ayam niyog aldaw ba-go kita ano
Cebuano usa duha tulo upat tawo balay iro lubi adlaw bag-o kita unsa
Waray usa duha tulo upat tawo balay ayam lubi adlaw bag-o kita ano
Tausug hambuuk duwa tu upat tau bay iru' niyug adlaw ba-gu kitaniyu unu
Kinaray-a sara darwa tatlo apat taho balay ayam niyog adlaw bag-o kita, taten ano
Kapampangan metung adwa atlu apat tau bale asu ngungut aldo bayu ikatamu nanu
Pangasinan sakey duara talora apatira too abong aso niyog agew balo sikatayo anto
Ilokano maysa dua tallo uppat tao balay aso niog aldaw baro datayo ania
Ivatan asa dadowa tatdo apat tao vahay chito niyoy araw va-yo yaten ango
Ibanag tadday dua tallu appa' tolay balay kitu niuk aggaw bagu sittam anni
Gaddang antet addwa tallo appat tolay balay atu ayog aw bawu ikkanetem sanenay
Tboli sotu lewu tlu fat tau gunu ohu lefo kdaw lomi tekuy tedu
Indonesian satu dua tiga empat orang rumah/balai anjing kelapa hari baru kita apa
Hawaiian 'ekahi 'elua 'ekolu 'ehā kanaka hale 'īlio niu ao hou kākou aha

Contribution to other languages

Tagalog itself has contributed a few words into English. The word boondocks which means 'rural' or 'back country', was imported by American soldiers stationed in the Philippines from the Tagalog bundok, which means "'mountain." Another word is cogon, which is a type of grass, used for thatching. This word came from the Tagalog word kugon. There is also ylang-ylang, which is a type of flower known for its fragrance. Abaca is a type of fiber made from a banana plant, from abaká. Manila is a light brown cardboard material used for folders and paper usually made from abaca. Capiz, also known as window oyster, is used to make windows. A yo-yo is a toy.

Tagalog has contributed several words to the Spanish, like barangay (from balańgay meaning barrio), the abaca, cogon, yoyo, etc.


Common phrases

  • English: Ingglés (ing-GLES)
  • Filipino: Pilipino (pih-lih-PIH-noh)
  • Tagalog: Tagalog (tah-GAH-log)
  • Hello: kumustá (koo-mus-TAH)
  • Good morning!: Magandáng umaga! [magan'daŋ u'maga] (mah-gan-DAHNG oo-MAH-gah)
  • Good afternoon! (from 11 am to 1 pm): Magandáng tanghali! [magan'daŋ taŋ'halε] (mah-gan-DAHNG tahng-HAH-leh)
  • Good afternoon! (from 1 pm to dusk): Magandáng hapon! [magan'daŋ hapon] (mah-gan-DAHNG HAH-pawn)
  • Good evening!: Magandáng gabí! [magan'daŋ g'bε] (mah-gan-DAHNG gah-BEH)
  • Good-bye: paalam (pa-AH-lam)
  • Please: Depending on the nature of the verb, either pakí- (pah-KEE) or makí- (mah-KEE) is attached as a prefix to a verb. ngâ (ngah) is optionally added after verb to increase politeness.
  • Thank you: salamat (sah-LAH-mat)
  • That one: iyan (ee-YAN)
  • How much?: magkano? (mag-KAH-noh?)
  • Yes: oo (O-awe) [o has neutral pronunciation]
  • No: hindî (hin-DEH)
  • Sorry: pasensya pô (pah-SEN-shah PO) [Most urban Tagalogs say itself "sorry" or spelled in Tagalog way, sori.]
  • Because: kasí (kah-SEH)
  • Hurry!: Dalí! (dah-LEE), Bilís! (bih-LEASE)
  • Again: mulí [mu'li] (moo-LEE), ulít [u'lεt] (oo-LET)
  • I don't understand: Hindî ko maintindihan (hin-DEE koh ma-in-TIN-dih-HAN)
  • Where's the bathroom?: Nasaán ang banyo? (NA-sa-AN ang BAN-yoh?)
  • Generic toast: Mabuhay! (mah-BOO-high) [literally - "long live"]
  • Do you speak English? Marunong ka bang magsalitâ ng Ingglés? (mah-ROO-nohng kah bang mag-sah-li-TAH nahng eeng-GLESS?)


Here are some proverbs in Tagalog.

Ang hindî marunong lumingón sa pinanggalingan ay hindî makararatíng sa paroroonan.
"He who does not look back from where he came will never reach his destination."

Ang isdâ ay hinuhuli sa bibig. Ang tao, sa salitâ.
"Fish are caught by the mouth. People, by their word."

Ang hindî magmahál sa kaniyáng wikŕ ay mahigít pa sa hayop at malansáng isdâ.
"He who doesn't love his language is worse than an animal or smelly fish." (José Rizal)

Nasa Dyos ang awŕ, nasa tao ang gawâ.
"God has compassion, man has action."

Magbirô lamang sa lasíng, huwág sa bagong gising.
"Joke around with someone who is drunk, not with someone who just woke up.

Magsama-sama at malakás, magwaták-waták at babagsák.
"United we stand, divided we fall."

Resources for learning Tagalog

See also

External links


es:Tagalo fr:Tagalog id:Bahasa Tagalog it:Tagalog ko:타갈로그어 nl:Tagalog ja:タガログ語 pl:Język tagalog pt:Tagalo sv:Tagalog zh:塔加洛語


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