The Tagalog language is a Philippine language of the Austronesian language family. It is spoken primarily in the Philippines. The word Tagalog itself comes from the Philippine word tagailog. This word, when broken down to its component parts, means “native to” and “river”. Therefore, the word tagailog figuratively translates to mean “river dweller” or “one who is native to the river”.
The earliest record of the Tagalog language being written down is from the year 900AD. The Tagalog language can be seen in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, which is a thin copper plate inscribed with details in several languages, releasing the bearer from a heavy debt. There are only fragments of the language here, but it they are distinctive enough to be thought of as the Tagalog language, and not Javanese as was once thought.
The Tagalog language comes under a little contention these days, as when it became the official language of the Philippines it was renamed Filipino. It is argued by some that the Filipino language is heavily derived from the Tagalog language, but is in fact separate, though most linguists will agree that there simply isn’t enough diversity in the official Tagalog language (or Filipino) and the Tagalog language that was spoken before 1973.
The Tagalog language is spoken mostly in the Philippines, where around a third of the population has this language as their first language. Most of the rest of the population have the Tagalog language as their second language, around 96% of the population. In total, this is around 60 million speakers, with another 30 million speakers worldwide.
It is one of the two official languages of the Philippines, though the Tagalog language is considered to be the national language. The original homeland for the Tagalog language was along the majority of the central and southern areas of the island of Luzon. These days it is spoken natively by inhabitants of smaller islands, such as Marinduque, Mindoro, and Palawan.
In its standardized form, the Tagalog language is often called Filipino. While the Tagalog language has its roots in the Central Philippine language, it is not considered to be particularly mutually intelligible with other Austronesian languages like Indonesian or Javanese.
The first book written in Tagalog was the Doctrina Christiana, written in 1593. This book was written in two versions of Tagalog, as well as Spanish. These two versions of the Tagalog language were only different in their use of either Latin script or Baybayin script. The Baybayin script was used prior to the Spanish occupation, but only consists of 14 consonants and 3 vowels.
Due to the Spanish occupation, which lasted for over 300 years, there is a relatively heavy Spanish influence to the Tagalog language. Many loanwords have been taken from the Spanish language and are still used in the language today.
The Tagalog language uses code-mixing very frequently in its language. Code-mixing is where foreign words are brought into the language that is being spoken, but they become subject to the rules and regulations of that language. For example, English words are often spoken in the Tagalog language, but they are subject to the grammar of Tagalog. The mixing of these languages, because the primary language that this is done with is English, is called colloquially Taglish.
Why Learn The Tagalog Language?
In terms of the Philippines itself, this is a beautiful area of the world to visit. Officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, this Southeast Asian country is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Essentially, this means that there is a massive range of beautiful places in the Philippines, from stunning beaches and mountains, to thousands of unique island locations.
There are nearly 100 million speakers of the Tagalog language worldwide, as the language itself is used by those who have frequently travelled or emigrated around the world. In the U.S., for example, it is the fourth most spoken foreign language in the home, after Spanich, French and Chinese. It is not a language that is spoken about in the media often, as the Philippines are not a major political power, but the Tagalog language is certainly very widely spoken, much more than it would appear from many media channels.