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Number of Speakers: 10,000,000 to 16,000,000 first language speakers, and over 40,000,000 second language speakers

Key Dialects: Manila

Geographical Center: Philipines

Tagalog is the national language of Tagalogs, one of the nations of the Philippines. It is practically identical with Pilipino, an artificial language, which was based on Tagalog. Tagalog/Pilipino is different from Filipino, which is another artificial language, based on the multiple languages of the Philippines, including the Indo-European languages English and Spanish. From 1973 on, Filipino is the national language of the Philippines, whereas Tagalog remains the national language of Tagalogs. Tagalog is also spoken in Canada, Guam, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK and the US (Campbell 2000, Ethnologue,, Guzman 2001, Makarenko 1998b, Škarban 1995)

Tagalog belongs to the Austronesian language family. The Austronesian language family includes a very large number of languages, being one of the largest linguistic families of the world. According to the most widely accepted classification of the Austronesian languages, offered by Blust, Tagalog belongs to the Western branch of the Malayo-Polynesian group of the Austronesian family. According to another, less commonly accepted system, according to which the Austronesian languages are distinguished into the Indonesian languages on the one hand and the Oceanic languages on the other hand, Tagalog belongs to the former group. According to the classification, presented in Ethnologue, Tagalog is classified in the following way: Tagalog < Central Philippine < Local Philippine < Western < Malayo-Polynesian < Austronesian. Fairly closely related are Bikol, Bisayan and Mansakan languages (the article is based on Campbell 2000, Guzman 2001; Makarenko 1998a, 1998b; Phillips 1994, Škarban 1995).

Tagalog has the following dialects: Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Marinduque, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Quezon and Palawan. Manila dialect is spoken in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and its suburbs. Manila dialect is considered standard Tagalog.

During the middle ages, Tagalog was written in a unique Tagalog syllabic script, called Baybayin, or Alibata. Baybayin developed out of Kawi script, once used in Indonesia. Kawi had developed out of Pallawi script, and Pallawi had evolved out of southern varieties of Brahmi script. The earliest texts in Baybayin date back to the 10th century, and this script was used until the 17th century. Baybayin consisted of 17 basic signs and 28 derived signs. The 17 basic signs denoted the vowels a, e/i, o/u, and the 14 Tagalog consonants connected with the vowel a, i.e. ka, ga, ba, etc. In order to write down syllables consisting of consonants and other vowels, viz. o/u and e/i, dots were subscribed or superscribed to the basic 14 consonant signs. Currently Tagalog uses Latin script.

Tagalog has 16 consonants, 8 monophthongs (including allophones), and 6 diphthongs. The stress is non-fixed. It generally falls on phonemically long vowels. If such vowels are absent, then phonetically long vowels are stressed. Typically for the Western Malayo-Polynesian languages, processes of assimilation play an important role in morphological derivation. Theoretically, Tagalog could be classified as an isolating language, but since it has an elaborate system of derivation and some features characteristic of the agglutinating languages, it should rather be regarded as a language of a mixed type. Relationship between words within a sentence is expressed by means of syntax and a large number of affixes (Tagalog has over 700 affixes). Tagalog words (including nouns, adjectives, verbs etc.) can be classified into primary and derived. Primary words are monomorphic, e.g. bakan ‘iron’, daan ‘road’, araw ‘day’, etc. Derived words can be classified into affixed, compound and mixed. The majority of affixed derivatives are formed with prefixes, e.g. mamuhay ‘to live’ (mam- + buhay ‘life’). Very often more than one prefix is used, cf. ka-mag-anak ‘relative’ (2 prefixes + root anak ‘native; offspring’), pag-pa-ma-pag-pa-tawa ‘funiness’ (5 prefixes + root tawa ‘laughter’). Suffixes and infixes are also used in derivation, but they are not as common as prefixes, e.g. putukan ‘shooting’ (putok ‘shot’ + -an), salitan ‘conversation’ (< salita ‘word, speech’ + -an), bumili ‘buy’ (morphologically: b-um-ili). Some affixes can be used both as prefixes and infixes, e.g. p-um-asok ‘enter’ (cf. mag-pasok ‘bring in’) vs. um-alis ‘go away’ (cf. mag-alis ‘remove’). The second group of derivative words are compounds, e.g. daang-bakal ‘railroad’ (< daang ‘road’ + bakal ‘iron’), kapit-bahay ‘neighboring house; neighbor’ (kapit ‘caught with the hands’ + bahay ‘house’). The third group contains words of mixed type. These words are often formed by means of reduplication used along with affication, e.g. magbukang-liwayway ‘to dawn’ (< mag- + buka ‘open’ + -ng- + liwayway ‘dawn’), etc. Tagalog verbs have a number of categories, including tense, mood, aspect, focus, voice, number, causativity, intensitivity, etc. These categories are expressed by means of affixation. Plurality is expressed in several ways in Tagalog. A common plural marker is the particle manga (also written mga), e.g. manga tao ‘people’ (tao ‘man, person’). For the same purpose also a number of prefixes may be employed, viz. mag-, magsipag-, magsipang-, as well as the infix -nga-, e.g. magsipag-aral ‘to study’ (as a group, cf. mag-aral ‘to study’), mangagluto or magsipagluto ‘to cook’ (plural, cf. singular magluto ‘to cook’). Reduplication is also used, e.g. bagay-bagay ‘(various) things’. However, sometimes reduplication only expresses intensivity rather than plurality, e.g. mahal-mahal ‘rather expensive’. The most common word order in Tagalog is VOS, but VSO occurs as well. Tagalog has a large number of loanwords, that have entered Tagalog from Spanish (ca. 5000 words), Chinese (over 1500 words), English (over 1500 words), Sanskrit (ca. 300 words), Arabic (over 200 words), as well as other Malayan languages. Among the various loanwords, it is possible to mention such as libro ‘book’ (< Spanish libro); Diyos ‘God’ (< Sp. Dios); guro, propesor, titser ‘teacher’ (< Sanskrit guru, Sp. profesor, English teacher); balibol ‘volleyball’ (< E. volleyball), bertdey ‘birthday’ (< E. birthday), etc. (The article based on Škarban 1995, Schachter 1987, Schachter/Otanes 1972, Campbell 2000, Aldave-Yap 1970, De Guzman 2001, English 1999)

Tagalog is the national language of Tagalogs. It is also widely used as the lingua franca among the numerous nations of the Philippines. The dialect of Manila is considered the standard form of Tagalog.

At its early stage, Tagalog was spoken mostly in southern and central Luzon. As it was an important economical, political and cultural area, Tagalog quickly gained prominence, and spread also to other parts of Luzon, as well as the neighboring islands. The inhabitants of the Philippines traded with the neigboring islands, as well as China, India and Arabia. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan visited the Philippines. This was the first encounter of Europeans and the local people. In the second half of the 16th century, the first Spanish mission was established in the Philippines. This marked the beginning of the era of the Spanish influence on Tagalog, as well as other languages of the Philippines. The Spanish ruled the Philippines until the end of the 19th century, leaving a significant mark on the Tagalog language. After the Spanish rule, at the very end of the 19th century the Philippines fell under the dominion of the United States. In 1946, the Philippines became and independent republic. Tagalog has a rich and old native literary tradition, reaching as far back as the beginning of our era. The earliest written texts in Tagalog date back to the 10th century AD. The first grammar of Tagalog was compiled in 1610 by a Spanish monk Francisco de San José. In 1613, the first Tagalog dictionary appeared, authored by Pedro de San Buenventura.

Aldave-Yap, Fe Z. 1970. “The Sounds of Pilipino”. A descriptive analysis. United Publishing Company, Manila.

Campbell, G. L. 2000. “Compendium of the World's Languages”. Vol. 2. Ladakhi to Zuni. Second edition. First published 1991. Routledge, London and New York.

English, Leo James. 1999. “English-Tagalog Dictionary”. 25th printing. Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Mandaheyong City.

Guzman, Videa P. De. 2001. “Tagalog”. In: “Facts about the World’s Languages: An Encyclopaedia of the World’s Major Languages, Past and Present”. Edited by Jane Garry and Carl Rubino. The H. N. Wilson Company, New York and Dublin. Pp. 703 – 7.

Makarenko, V. A. 1998a. “Filippinskije jazyki”. In: Jarceva, V. N. (Editor-in-Chief). “Jazykoznanije. Bol’šoj enciklopedičeskij slovar’”. Naučnoje izdatel’stvo “Bol’šaja russkaja enciklopedija”. 1-oje izdanije 1990. Moskva. Pp. 543 – 5

Makarenko, V. A. 1998b. “Tagal’skij jazyk”. In: Jarceva, V. N. (Editor-in-Chief). “Jazykoznanije. Bol’šoj enciklopedičeskij slovar’”. Naučnoje izdatel’stvo “Bol’šaja russkaja enciklopedija”. 1-oje izdanije 1990. Moskva. Pp. 501 – 2.

Phillips, N. G. 1994. “Austronesian Languages”. In: Asher, R. E. (Editor-in-Chief). 1994. “The Encyclopedia of Languages and Linguistics”. Vol. 1. Pergamon Press, Oxford – New York – Seoul – Tokyo. Pp. 274 – 6.

Schachter, Paul. 1987. “Tagalog”. In: Bernard Comrie (ed.). 1987. “The World’s Major Languages”. Croom Helm, London & Sydney. Pp. 936 – 58.

Schachter, Paul; Otanes, Fe T. 1972. “Tagalog Reference Grammar”. University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.

Škarban, L. I. 1995. “Grammatičeskij stroj tagal’skogo jazyka”. Izdatel’skaja firma “Vostočnaja literatura” RAN, Moskva.

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