About Tagalog

Ancient Tagalog Alphabet resembles ancient Malay scripts

Tagalog belongs to the Austronesian language family under the Malayo-Polynesian sub-group. Other languages in this group are Javanese, Indonesian, Malay, Cham (of Vietnam and Cambodia), Tetum (of East Timor) and Tao language of Taiwan. It is spoken in BATAAN, BULACAN, NUEVA ECIJA, GREATER MANILA AREA and the CALABARZON in LUZON and MIMAROPA provinces in the VISAYAN region. It is the basis of the national language of the Philippines, Filipino.

How is it different from other languages in the Philippines? In fact, it is closely related to Bicolano, spoken in Bicol (South East Luzon), Hiligaynon/ Ilonggo/Kinaray-a in Ilo-ilo (Eastern Visayas), Waray in Leyte (Central Visayas), and Cebuano in Cebu /Davao (Central Visayas and Mindanao).

However, those who speak it often do not understand these already mentioned languages. They will also not understand Ilocano/Iloko and Pangasinense/ Panggalatok, the native languages spoken in most of Northern Luzon. Overseas Filipino Workers and immigrants will be composed mainly of these major language groups.

Dialects of the language are noticeable once you travel to the provinces and speak to the locals. In translation, the dialect differences should be apparent to the evaluator or editor because certain traits surface. Some dialects have words which are not recognized in Manila. These words often become excluded from Standard Tagalog because they are sometimes labeled Deep. Yet, with an open mind, they could be recognized as Filipino, especially if they are exact equivalents of source words that could not find Easy or Conversational matches in the target text.

Stress and therefore pronunciation of some similar words also differ in the regions and, in many instances, give away one's place of origin. In the use of prefixes, Manilenos will say "Kumakain ka ba ng kare-kare?", but Batanguenos will say "Nakain ka ga ng kare-kare?" Both means "Do you eat kare-kare?" In translation, Manila Tagalog is often preferred so that "Nakain ka ga ng kare-kare" although correct, will have to give way to "Kumakain ka ba ng kare-kare."

Tagalog and other Filipino languages have a common grammatical structure. See how a Tagalog sentence works and compare with Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Bicolano, and Ilocano. 

Tagalog to Filipino

Note that ideally Filipino, the national language, accommodates vocabulary from other Philippine and foreign languages. Most often, this means including words from other regions. For example, in Tagalog, there is no word for "husband", but there is a word for spouse (asawa/kabiyak). However, Cebuano distinguishes the two and uses "asawa" for wife and "bana" for husband. Although most translators in Filipino know this, translations have not often used "bana" in a Filipino document. 

In 1937 Tagalog was the national language of the Philippines. Twenty years later, the national language was called Pilipino to remove its ethnic label. Other Philippine language groups, especially the Cebuanos, didn't like it that Pilipino, that is, Tagalog, was being singled out. In 1971, Pilipino became Filipino, an approach to somehow give it a universal appeal. In 1987 the Philippine constitution named Filipino as the national language. Filipino is evolving but in the meantime, most translators simply often recognize Filipino as another label for Tagalog and vice versa.