When you are trying to learn a new language, it is not enough that you know the basic words, phrases, and expressions by heart. In order to create a more authentic experience, you must also know the history behind it and how it is actually written. To help you get started on your journey, we will be discussing the Tagalog writing system used in the Philippines.
The Philippines is definitely one country that you should never miss out on in your life. Aside from being ranked as the 45th best country in the world in 2019, the scenic spots, amazing cuisine, and cultural influence are totally magnetizing. This archipelagic state in Southeast Asia consists of about 7,641 islands, and almost every region there has a native language of its own!
In fact, if we base it under the official curriculum of the DepEd (the executive department in the Philippines responsible for high-quality education), there are over 19 regional languages that are consistently taught under the Mother-Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education strategy. In this sense, Filipinos can become more confident about the grasp of their mother language while also learning about Tagalog and English.
And you know what is even more interesting about that? The number of regional languages being taught officially in schools just keeps on growing! This is because aside from Tagalog, there are some 120 to 180 languages spread out and used in the country. However, if you intend to visit the Philippines and spend some time traversing some of the top tourist destinations and cultural attractions, we highly recommend that you arm yourself with some Tagalog!
Have you ever wondered why Filipinos are good at English? It is because English is considered as one of the neutral languages that you can use and still be understood by whoever you are speaking with. In truth, not everyone in the Philippines can even speak Tagalog. To compensate, people usually use English or a combination of it in the form of Taglish.
Officially, Tagalog is used by over a quarter of the population of the Philippines- more so in major cities like Manila and the provinces bordering it. The term Tagalog is derived from the endonym taga-ilog which directly translates to “river dweller.” According to linguists, there is a big possibility that the first Tagalog-speaking people were from Northern Mindanao or Eastern Visayas, where there are huge bodies of water.
Tagalog Writing System
Have you ever just stopped to admire the distinct writing systems that you can usually find scripted in other international brands? Contrary to common belief, the Philippines also has its own indigenous writing system that is constantly being revived in some places in Manila.
Filipino, the national language of the Philippines, is heavily reliant on the Tagalog language. Unfortunately, very little is known about its history since the country has massively suffered under different rulers and governments. Each conqueror has its own version of the “standard” language that must be spoken in the country, which is why even modern Tagalog has been consistently modified to accommodate all those historical influences.
At present, the Philippines is using the Latin alphabet in order to have a smoother transition between Tagalog and English, the official languages of the country. But hey, allow me to just share with you a brief introduction to another writing system that is also purely Filipino.
The Baybayin Alphabet
In the past, Tagalog is written in an alpha syllabary known as the Baybayin script, which has been developed by the natives based on the old Kawi script of Java, Sumatra, and Bali. Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, Filipinos used this to write poetry and announcements.
If Japan has Hiragana and Katakana, the Philippines have the very special Baybayin. This system of writing is based on sounds, so whenever you want to translate a word, you simply just need to look at the chart ad write it down based on the syllable.
Unlike other languages, the Baybayin has 14 consonants and three vowels. Basically, each letter is already a syllable, and to signify a change in the sound of the vowel, you can use a special character known as kudlit.
The kudlit is like a punctuation mark that looks like a small cut or incision placed above the letter to know whether the sound should be an I, E, O, or U. It can take any form may it be a dot, a tick, or even an apostrophe. When the Spanish knew of this writing system, they invented a new type of kudlit which is shaped like a cross and is now supposed to be added at the lower part of the letter.
Today, this alphabet is only used for decorative purposes, but a huge number of young Filipinos are starting to rekindle a love for this due to its distinct ethnic look. Just last year, millennials started a movement to bring back this script and be used once again in order to create a more unified identity for the country.
Learn Tagalog Today and Speak Like A Pro!
Are you enjoying learning about the history behind the Tagalog writing system and its vocabulary? Then I bet it is time that I introduce to you why you should learn this unique Asian language. The Tagalog language is Easy to learn and is fascinating enough in the sense that it prides itself on an ever-growing set of words and phrases day by day!
And you know what is even more special? These Tagalog words and slang are slowly being embedded into international English dictionaries too!
Ready to learn and establish a tighter relationship with your Filipino friends? Just by practicing and simply allowing yourself to have at least 10 minutes a day with the Ling app, we bet that you can sound like a pro in no time!
Unlike other foreign languages, Tagalog is definitely viewed in a positive light since it is easier to remember (because of the Latin alphabet) and does not have complicated grammar rules.
With thousands of Filipinos stationed all over the world, we bet that finding someone to converse with in using this as the target language will be easy. Interested to learn more Tagalog words and native expressions like how to ask how are you or express goodbye? Then you definitely should use the Ling app to pump up your vocabulary and find the right words to fill the void. Download it now on the Play Store or App Store and start being a Tagalog pro now!