Tagalog - history and language.

Tagalog language

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 Tagalog language, due to extensive contact with outsiders and foreigners, has developed a unique vocabulary utilising words from its own Malayan roots and also from other foreign languages. A complete list of root words it borrowed from other languages can be summed up as follows:

  • Spanish (30%)
  • Min Nan Chinese (10%)
  • English (10%)
  • Other languages - including Sanskrit, Arabic, Tamil, Persian, Nahuatl/Aztec, Sindhi/Punjabi, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, and other Austronesian languages and Philippine dialects (10%)

Borrowings from Malay cannot be ascertained at this time, as words which have come from the Old Austronesian language and those which are borrowed from Malay are still ambiguous and similar enough to be distinguished from each other.

Tagalog History

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 Classification

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.

Tagalog 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, did you know 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 local dialect of the 160 Philippine languages, that is officially taught in schools.

Philippine Dialects

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, which 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: Caviteño, Ternateño, and Ermitaño. Ermitaño is said to be extinct.

Tagalog code-switching

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.

Nasirà 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 whilst giving media 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.

Binaliktad (Reversed)

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 /hin·dê/.)
  • 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 /la·séng/)
  • Ngetpa from pangit/panget (ugly) (Pangit is mostly pronounced /pa·nget/)
  • Astíg from tigás (hard, strong)
  • Atík from kita (income)
  • Lóngkatuts from katulong (maid, helper)

    Filipino Phrases

    For a basic look at some Filipino Words and Phrases, have a look here.

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