History Of The Tagalog Language: 10 Amazing Facts

The history of the Tagalog language is one of the most complex ones out of all the languages in Southeast Asia due to its history. In fact, there are linguists who believe that Chinese, Spanish, and English have influenced the whole system since the Philippines is one of the countries where international trades usually happen because of its location. However, today, Filipinos speak the “Filipino” as an official language, and Tagalog has directly shaped this one. Let’s get to know more about this in today’s post!

Whenever you think about the Philippines, what usually comes to mind are the Instagram-worthy attractions, unique delicacies, and perhaps the obsession of the Filipinos about beauty pageants. But, aside from all those, the Philipinnes is unique because it is one of the countries in the world with a huge number of local dialects and languages. Approximately, there are about 120 to 175 distinct languages and dialects today representing every single region in the country!

Reigning supreme out of all of them is the Tagalog which is mainly spoken in central and southern Luzon and some of the closest islands. 20 million people speak it, and it is considered the first-ever language that most native Filipinos used back in the day. Let’s get to know more about this in the next section below.


History Of The Tagalog Language

The Tagalog language has existed for thousands of years ago, but there are no documents or archeological evidence directly confirming the earliest sources of it. The name is known to be derived from “taga-ilog” which means settlers of the river in English. No one knows when it began to exist but based on theories. It is believed that the majority of the features of the language were developed based on Sanskrit, and it used to be written using a script called the Baybayin writing system.

Historical data also shows that aside from Sanskrit, Tagalog was also from the Malayo-Polynesian race (mostly people from Taiwan), which is why it is now part of the Austronesian language family.

The initial development of the Tagalog words and grammar structures is related to the Malays and Chinese, but the Spanish and American colonization brought about major changes.

Spanish Influence

History Of The Tagalog Language: spanish

In the 16th century, the Philippines were officially known to the world as a country under the colonial power of Spain. The tropical country was seen as paradise due to its strategic location, so several powerful countries wanted to claim it. In fact, the Philippines is a major trade route for the spice trade, and it is pretty close to powerful countries like China and Japan. With this being said, the country has been under the Spanish government for over 333 years, so there is no surprise how much influence Spain has over the culture, language, and way of living of the Filipinos.

During this time, Tagalog was viewed as a “commoner’s language,” and you have to learn Spanish in order to transact with the government and fit into the society. Aside from the massive use of the Spanish language, the writing system also changed to the Roman alphabet. To accommodate everyone and ensure that the Filipinos understand every government policy, most of the announcements are written in both Spanish and Tagalog language using the Roman alphabet and Tagalog characters.

Even today, some of the Spanish words are part of the official loan words and are still being used today and interested to know the main differences between the two languages? Click here.

American Influence

History Of The Tagalog Language: english

Before the start of the 19th century, the Americans came to rescue the Philippines, and they have held the country for about 40+ years. During this time, they introduced the English language, and the Filipinos acquired it and used it as the main medium for teaching. Then, seeing that many are fluent and comfortable with the English language, the country’s official language was declared next to Filipino in the 1935 constitution.

The State Of The Philippine National Languages Today

May it be in written or spoken discourse, Spanish and English remain present in the Philippines’s modern world. Even the names today are still borrowed from Spanish-sounding ones like Manuel, Angelito, or Garcia. The borrowed words are also still widely spoken, and there are even groups of people who can speak Chavacano or the Spanish-based creole language of the Philippines.

At some point, Filipinos have even created Taglish, which is the unique combination of Tagalog-English words. For example, instead of plainly saying, “I’m going to the mall to buy some fruits,” the Taglish speakers may say, “pupunta ako ng mall to make bili some fruits.”


The National Language Of The Philippines: Tagalog Or Filipino?

History Of The Tagalog Language: filipino

While Tagalog is closely related, the national language of the Philippines is still Filipino and English. Filipino is based on Tagalog and other languages spoken in the archipelago like Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, etc.

As you probably noticed, Tagalog is an ethnic language and is basically from Southern Luzon (Metro Manila). Therefore, it is not true that everyone from the country knows how to speak Tagalog, but most people know the Filipino language. In terms of the alphabet, the Filipino is made of 28 letters, and 20 of those came from Tagalog while the extra letters English and Spanish.


Facts About The Language Of The Philippines

Below are 10 facts you need to know about the languages of the Philippines, especially if you want to master Tagalog.

  1. The Taga-ilog term means from the river. While it is not sure which “river” is being discussed here, there are documents that suggest that the one being pointed out is the Pasig River.
  2. English is the second language of the Filipino locals, so there is no reason to be surprised why the locals use Taglish (code-switching when they forget the translation for a particular word).
  3. Many of the Spanish loan words are already Tagalog counterparts. Some of the words were just altered in terms of the spelling, but the meaning stayed the same all these years.
  4. The Philippine script called Baybayin is being revived by millennials today. Certain places like the Lagusnilad (in Manila) uses Baybayin for their signages.
  5. There are over 24 million people (OFWs) who use the Filipino language even outside the country.
  6. More than 100 Tagalog terms are derived from the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian language (one of the Austronesian languages).
  7. Filipino is considered as a modernized Tagalog and is mainly used by the younger generation.
  8. Instead of using Tagalog, the Noli me Tangere of Jose Rizal was written in Spanish to expose the abuse of the Spanish government to the Filipinos.
  9. Despite being only spoken in the Philippines, Tagalog is one of the most widely scattered languages globally since there are many overseas Filipino workers across the globe. In fact, this is the reason why many citizens from the United States and Arab countries are also keen on learning how to speak Tagalog.
  10. Learning Tagalog is easy, and you have to use the right tools and learning courses.


Over To You!

History Of The Tagalog Language 10 Amazing Facts: Ling App

Now that we know all there is about the language Tagalog, it’s time for you to try out and learn this today! Our advice? Download the Ling App for FREE and discover how to speak like a pro in no time by using a motivating language tool. Simya Solutions develop the Ling App, and it is has been downloaded millions of times due to its outstanding features. To unlock the quizzes, try out the chatbot, and learn new words, expressions, and phrases today using the Ling App!

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