What is the Philippine National Language—Tagalog or Filipino?

31 July 2023
OG What is the Philippine National LanguageTagalog or Filipino

As August begins, Filipinos throughout the globe begin preparations for the annual Buwan Ng Wika festival.


When we hear the words "Buwan ng Wika," or "Linggo ng Wika" for some, we often go back to our school days. However, as entertaining as they may be, we shouldn't let school events take center stage in this significant month for all Filipinos because it's time to express our love in different Philippine languages to our native tongue!


We Filipinos should celebrate our own language more deeply and for what it is, a vital part of our culture's heritage.


But we know that there's one question that might keep bugging you every time you think about our national language. Which of the two Philippine languages, Tagalog or Filipino, do most Filipinos speak? Or is there no distinction between the two at all?


Despite Filipino's status as the official language of the country as established by the Philippine Constitution of 1987, asking a local whether they're speaking Tagalog or Filipino as a Philippine citizen sometimes results in a vague response. So, in this article, let's all take a deeper understanding of our own native tongue.



A Glimpse in the Philippine Language History

Filipino, commonly known as Tagalog, is a language spoken in the Philippines. It has a long and interesting history that represents the country's cultural and linguistic development. Let us quickly recap its background by looking at this brief history:



Precolonial Era

A number of indigenous languages and dialects were spoken in the Philippines prior to the entrance of Spanish conquerors in the 16th century. And among all these, Tagalog is one of the most spoken languages in the central Philippines and across the archipelago.



The Birth of the Spanish Language in the Philippines (1521-1898)

Beginning in the 1560s, the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines was in full swing after the arrival of Spanish explorers in 1521. Significant cultural changes occurred in the Philippines during this time due to the introduction of the Spanish language and Christianity. As a result of Spanish's widespread use in government, schools, and churches, the Tagalog language adopted many Spanish words and grammatical rules.


The Philippine Revolution, which started in 1896, was an uprising against Spain's colonial government. Tagalog was an important unifying and resistant language at this time. This was also the moment when our heroes, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and other revolutionary leaders of the Philippines, all spoke Tagalog word to spread their message.



American Period (1898-1946)

As a result of the Spanish-American War, the United States gained control of the Philippines. English replaced Tagalog as the language of teaching in schools, and attempts were made to discourage the use of the native language. However, the impact of English on Tagalog vocabulary expanded that it even becomes our second language these days.



The Rise of the New Wave of Filipino Nationalism

A developing feeling of Filipino nationalism emerged towards the end of the 19th century, driven by Enlightenment values and nationalist movements from throughout the globe. The notion of a national language, the same language that will be spoken by all Filipinos and would unite the Philippines' many ethnic groups was championed by the country's intellectuals and reformists, who also wanted to increase the usage of our existing native languages.



Development of a National Language

Originating in the 1930s is the time when the Commonwealth government recognized the need for a unified language to replace the wide array of local tongues already in use. Tagalog's popularity grew as a result of its status as the de facto language of choice in Metro Manila and the surrounding regions. The Commonwealth administration at the time, led by President Manuel L. Quezon, was making strides toward creating a national language based on Tagalog.


Although many Filipinos speak Tagalog, some lawmakers were against it because they felt that not all Filipinos could speak it at the time. Remember that we also have other dialects, such as Batangas Tagalog, Bisaya, Kapampangan, etc. Therefore, the constitution only suggested that there be a national language in the future and that all of the country's official languages be taken into account for use in creating such language.


In 1937, in an effort to develop and standardize the language (then known as Pilipino), the National Language Institute was founded. Throughout its history, Pilipino has changed and absorbed loanwords from other Philippine languages.



Rebranding and Transformation

To better reflect the goals of a national language that would speak for the whole Philippines, in 1959, Pilipino was renamed Filipino.


Former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the late father of our incumbent President Bongbong Marcos, prioritized building a "new society" in the Philippines in the 1970s. This opportunity was then seized by nationalist intellectuals to forward the cause of creating a national language.


Words from other languages, such as English, Spanish, Malay, and Chinese, were incorporated into and adapted to create a more expansive vocabulary for use in the Philippines. To make the language more aesthetically beautiful, they also substituted foreign terms for unsound Tagalog words. One of the best examples of this is the word "silya", which they proposed adopting from a Spanish word, meaning chair, instead of the more traditional Tagalog word for it, "salumpuwit".


Although it has its origins in Tagalog, Filipino is now officially recognized as the official language of the Philippines according to the Constitution adopted in 1987.


There are many other languages spoken in the Philippines, but Filipino has emerged as the de facto national language and lingua franca up to this day. Its evolution and adaptation to current demands and western languages also reflect the continuing language and cultural changes in the Philippines.



Untangling the Complexity of the Languages Spoken in the Philippines

The Filipino language is often considered to be spoken by the majority of Filipinos. There will also be occasions when you are told that it is Tagalog. If you are confused, then this post about Tagalog or Filipino explaining the Philippine language is for you.


The Filipino language is the "next level" or "improved" form of the Tagalog language. The Filipino language, of which the native Tagalog words are a component, has been developing over time. There are Tagalog terms in the Filipino language, but there are also nativized words from other languages like English and Spanish.


Furthermore, transliteration, or how a local write a term depending on how he or she pronounces it, is also recognized in the Filipino language. In the Filipino language, the English word janitor may also be spelled "dyanitor." Likewise, the word cheque is spelled "tseke" in Filipino writing.


August is the month that we can show our nationalistic side to our beloved Philippines. And one of the best ways to honor our country is, of course, to own a house and lot Philippines.


Lucrative as it may seem, you can now start an investment with an affordable house and lot that Lumina Homes offer! Have a wide variety of selections from our affordable house and lot for sale, available in over 50 communities nationwide! Stay updated with our latest home promos this Buwan ng Wika and book your reservations now!




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