Ta… Ga… What Language Is Tagalog!?

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Maybe you’re a linguaphile and wondering ‘What language really is Tagalog?’ or you heard about Tagalog (Filipino) and you’ve been racking your brain to discover… 

What in the world is Tagalog?  What kind of a language is it?

Well you’re in luck, netizen!  By some twist of Googlidipity,* you’re reading this article instead of Wikipedia’s.  

And as it happens, I am Filipino and I do speak Tagalog. 

Let me share with you a few things I know about this beautiful language that you may not find in the Wiki.  (Special shoutout to my Social Studies teachers in the Philippines for teaching me this stuff!)

3 Quick Tagalog Language Facts

There are a number of nuances that make the Tagalog language unique. Here are my top three!

1) It’s One of Many

As a country with over 7,000 islands, the Philippines boasts many regional languages (more than 120).  Tagalog is one of these languages. It is spoken especially in Luzon, the Philippines’ biggest and most populated island group. 

2) It Has Austronesian Roots

Tagalog is Austronesian.  It is rooted deeply in the Malaysian-Indonesian language family and reflects different foreign influences.

3) It’s the National Language Origin

In 1987, Tagalog became the foundation for the country’s official national language, Filipino. That’s why you will often hear Tagalog and Filipino used interchangeably (we do it all the time here on Tagalog Fun to help people understand that).

Although they are referred to as one in the same, technically Tagalog is the pure form of the language and Filipino is a mix of Austronesian influences, loan words from other languages like Spanish, English, and Sanskrit, and of course, its ethnic Tagalog heritage. Filipinos often call this a halo-halo (a mix-mix) of different influences.

Despite how Filipino continues to evolve, it maintains the richness of its origin or parent language:  Tagalog.

^ Filipino

Bonus Tagalog Language Fact

Besides being a halo-halo (a mix-mix) of various influences, one more interesting thing about Tagalog is that Filipinos have effortlessly combined the language with another foreign language: English!

^ halo-halo (a mix-mix)

The mixing of the two languages dates back to when the Philippines was under American power for nearly half a century. During this time, the people learned to fuse both English and Tagalog into one, either using English words while speaking Tagalog or switching seamlessly between the two languages in one conversation.  

Just how prevalent is the English influence in the Tagalog language? Well, let’s just say that this colloquial language has even earned its own name: Taglish”.

^ Taglish

Tagalog + English = Taglish

Tagalog is sometimes combined with English in everyday, casual conversations because of convenience. Some Tagalog words may be too long, formal or unfamiliar.  Other words sound dated because they are rarely used.  

In short, many English equivalents are used because they are simpler to understand. This phenomenon happens in other languages heavily influenced by English too (like Spanglish).

Taglish Examples

Kelan Zoom meeting natin? (When’s our Zoom meeting?)

^ Kelan Zoom meeting natin? (When’s our Zoom meeting?)

Guys, sorry. Choppy ng signal ko! (Guys, sorry.  My signal’s choppy.)

^ Guys, sorry. Choppy ng signal ko! (Guys, sorry.  My signal’s choppy.)

Text your answers sa chat box! Text your answers at the chat box!

^ Text your answers sa chat box! Text your answers at the chat box!

While purists do not encourage Taglish in the instructional and formal setting, one cannot deny that this bilingual ability reflects the nature of the Filipino people:  welcoming, inventive, and yes, a halo-halo a mix-mix — of different influences that makes this culture one-of-a-kind.

Let’s Talk the Tagalog Language

Here are more Zoom-friendly Tagalog phrases you can use when e-meeting with friends or family. 

Let’s practice!

Can you guys see me? Nakikita niyo ba ako?

^ Nakikita niyo ba ako? (Can you guys see me?)

Can you guys hear me? Naririnig niyo ba ako?

^ Naririnig niyo ba ako? (Can you guys hear me?)

See you next time! Hanggang sa muli!

^ Hanggang sa muli! (See you next time!)

Please turn on your screens, guys. Paki-bukas ang mga iskrin ninyo.

^ Paki-bukas ang mga iskrin ninyo. (Please turn on your screens, guys.)

Parting “What Language Is Tagalog” Tip

Filipinos LOVE it when non-Tagalog speakers try to communicate in Tagalog. There’s just something charming and irresistible about it. So after impressing your Filipino friends with a fact (or two or three) about the Tagalog language, go ahead and try these phrases with them.

Even if you don’t get it perfect at first, trust me.  They’ll find you absolutely adorable.

* Google + Serendipity; noun
a serendipitous Google search-powered twist of fate

Marie Gutierrez

Filipino (Tagalog) is my native language, but with more than 15 years experience writing professionally in English, I am uniquely qualified to flex my semicolons to help others learn this magnificent language and let you in on cultural insights that you won't get anywhere else.

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