Filipino language

This article is about the national and an official language of the Philippines. For an overview of all languages used in the Philippines, see Languages of the Philippines.
Wikang Filipino
Pronunciation [ˌfɪl.ɪˈpiː.no]
Native to Philippines
Native speakers
(see Tagalog)
L2: 45 million (2013)[1]
Total: 70 million[2]
Latin (Filipino alphabet)
Philippine Braille
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-2 fil
ISO 639-3 fil
Glottolog fili1244[3]
Linguasphere 31-CKA-aa

  Countries with more than 500,000–1,000,000 speakers
  Countries with more than 100,000 speakers
  Countries where it is spoken by minor communities

Filipino i/ˌfɪlɪˈpn/[4] ([ˌfɪl.ɪˈpiː.no]; Pilipino [ˌpɪl.ɪˈpiː.no] or Wikang Filipino), in this usage, refers to the national language of the Philippines. Filipino is also designated, along with English, as an official language of the country.[5] It is the standard register of the Tagalog language,[6] an Austronesian, regional language that is widely spoken in the Philippines. As of 2007, Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people,[7] or about one-third of the Philippine population, while 45 million speak Filipino as their second language.[1] Filipino is among the 185 languages of the Philippines identified in the Ethnologue.[8] Officially, Filipino is defined by the Commission on the Filipino Language (Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in Filipino or simply KWF) as "the native language, spoken and written, in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in other urban centers of the archipelago."[9]

Filipino is ideally a pluricentric language.[10] Indeed, there have been observed "emerging varieties of Filipino which deviate from the grammatical properties of Tagalog" in Cebu,[11] Davao City and Iloilo[12] which together with Metro Manila form the three largest metropolitan areas in the Philippines. In reality, however, Filipino has been variously described as "simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with no grammatical element or lexicon coming from ... other major Philippine languages,"[13] and as "essentially a formalized version of Tagalog."[14] In most contexts, Filipino is understood to be an alternative name for Tagalog,[15][16] or the Metro Manila dialect of Tagalog.[17][18][19]


There was no common language in the Philippine archipelago when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The four major trade languages were Visayan, Kapampangan, Pangasinan and Ilocano. As the Philippine languages are all closely related and therefore easy for Filipinos to learn, most speakers of smaller languages spoke two or more of such regional languages.

The first dictionary of Tagalog was written by the Franciscan Pedro de San Buenaventura in 1613,[20] published by the "father of Filipino printing", Tomas Pinpin, in Pila, Laguna. A latter book of the same name was written by Czech Jesuit missionary Paul Klein at the beginning of the 18th century. Klein spoke Tagalog and used it actively in several of his books. He wrote the first dictionary, which he later passed over to Francisco Jansens and José Hernandez.[21] Further compilation of his substantial work was prepared by Juan de Noceda and Pedro de Sanlucar and published as Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala in Manila in 1754 and then repeatedly[22] re-edited with the last edition being in 2013 in Manila.[23]

On November 13, 1936, Commonwealth act No. 184 created the National Language Institute and tasked it with making a study and survey of each existing native language, hoping to choose which was to be the base for a standardized national language.[24] On November 12, 1937, the First National Assembly of the Philippine Commonwealth approved the law for the establishment of the Surián ng Wikang Pambansâ (National Language Institute; NLI). This institute would be responsible for surveying and researching existing native languages in order to determine among them the basis for an artificial 'national language of the Philippines'. Then-president Manuel L. Quezon later appointed representatives for each major regional language to form NLI. Led by Jaime C. De Veyra, who sat as the chair of the Institute and as the representative of Samar-Leyte-Visayans, the Institute's members were composed of Santiago A. Fonacier (representing the Ilokano-speaking regions), Filemon Sotto (the Cebu-Visayans), Casimiro Perfecto (the Bikolanos), Felix S. Sales Rodriguez (the Panay-Visayans), Hadji Butu (the languages of Filipino Muslims), and Cecilio Lopez (the Tagalogs).[25]

On December 13, 1937, President Quezon issued Executive order No. 134, s. 1937, approving the adoption of Tagalog as the basis of the new 'national language of the Philippines', and declared and proclaimed the national language so based on the Tagalog dialect, as the national language of the Philippines.[26] On December 31 of the same year, Quezon proclaimed Tagalog as the basis of the Wikang Pambansâ (National Language) based on the following factors:[25]

  1. Tagalog is widely spoken and is the most understood in all the Philippine Regions;
  2. It is not divided into smaller daughter languages, as Visayan or Bikol are;
  3. Its literary tradition is the richest of all native Philippine languages, the most developed and extensive (mirroring that of the Tuscan language vis-à-vis Italian). More books are written in Tagalog than in any other autochthonous Philippine language but Spanish, but this is mainly by virtue of law and privilege;
  4. Tagalog has always been the language of Manila, the political and economic center of the Philippines during the Spanish and American eras.
  5. Spanish was the language of the 1896 Revolution and the Katipunan, but the revolution was led by people who also spoke Tagalog.

In 1959, the language became known as Pilipino in an effort to dissociate it from the Tagalog ethnic group.[27]

Later, the 1973 Constitution provided for a separate national language to replace Pilipino, a language which it termed Filipino. However, Article XV, Section 3(2), mentions neither Tagalog nor Pilipino as the basis for Filipino, instead calling on the National Assembly to:

take steps toward the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino.

This move has drawn much criticism from the nation's other ethnic groups.

In 1987, a new constitution introduced many provisions for the language.[28] Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:

as Filipino evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.

And also states in the article:

Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.


The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.

Republic Act No. 7104, approved on August 14, 1991, created the Commission on the Filipino Language, reporting directly to the President and tasked to undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages.[29] On May 13, 1992, the commission issued Resolution 92-1, specifying that Filipino is the

indigenous written and spoken language of Metro Manila and other urban centers in the Philippines used as the language of communication of ethnic groups.[30]

However, as with the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, 92-1 neither went so far as to categorically identify nor dis-identify this language as Tagalog. Definite, absolute, and unambiguous interpretation of 92-1 is the prerogative of the Supreme Court in the absence of directives from the KWF, otherwise the sole legal arbiter of the Filipino language.

Filipino was presented and registered with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), by Ateneo de Manila University student Martin Gomez, and was added to the ISO registry of languages on September 21, 2004 with it receiving the ISO 639-2 code fil.[31] In June 2007, Ricardo Maria Nolasco, Chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language), acknowledged that Filipino was simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with as yet no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or any of the other Philippine languages. He said further that this is contrary to the intention of Republic Act No. 7104 that requires that the national language be developed and enriched by the lexicon of the country's other languages, something that the commission is working towards.[32] On 24 August 2007, Nolasco elaborated further on the relationship between Tagalog and Filipino in a separate article, as follows:

Are "Tagalog," "Pilipino" and "Filipino" different languages? No, they are mutually intelligible varieties, and therefore belong to one language. According to the KWF, Filipino is that speech variety spoken in Metro Manila and other urban centers where different ethnic groups meet. It is the most prestigious variety of Tagalog and the language used by the national mass media.

The other yardstick for distinguishing a language from a dialect is: different grammar, different language. "Filipino", "Pilipino" and "Tagalog" share identical grammar. They have the same determiners (ang, ng and sa); the same personal pronouns (siya, ako, niya, kanila, etc.); the same demonstrative pronouns (ito, iyan, doon, etc.); the same linkers (na, at and ay); the same particles (na and pa); and the same verbal affixes -in, -an, i- and -um-. In short, same grammar, same language.[33]

On 22 August 2007, it was reported that three Malolos City regional trial courts in Bulacan decided to use Filipino, instead of English, in order to promote the national language. Twelve stenographers from Branches 6, 80 and 81, as model courts, had undergone training at Marcelo H. del Pilar College of Law of Bulacan State University following a directive from the Supreme Court of the Philippines. De la Rama said it was the dream of Chief Justice Reynato Puno to implement the program in other areas such as Laguna, Cavite, Quezon, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Rizal, and Metro Manila.[34]

Filipino vs. Tagalog

In practical terms, Filipino is the official name of Tagalog, or even a synonym of it.[35] Today's Filipino language is best described as "Tagalog-based".[36] Use of term Filipino in this context is a metalepsis which suggests metaphorically that the national language is based on an amalgam of Philippine languages rather than on Tagalog alone. The language is usually called Tagalog within the Philippines and among Filipinos to differentiate it from other Philippine languages, but it has also come to be known as Filipino to differentiate it from the languages of other countries; the former implies a regional origin, the latter a national. This is similar to the use of names given to the Spanish language: Castilian tends to be used within Spain, and Spanish in international settings.[37]

In connection with the use of Filipino, or specifically the promotion of the national language, the related term Tagalista is frequently used. While the word Tagalista literally means "one who specializes in Tagalog language or culture" or a "Tagalog specialist", in the context of the debates on the national language and "Imperial Manila", the word Tagalista is used as a reference to "people who promote or would promote the primacy of Tagalog at the expense of [the] other [Philippine] indigenous tongues".[38]

In academic contexts, Tagalog may be written with diacritics, but this is generally ignored with Filipino. Filipino is constitutionally designated as the national language of the Philippines and, along with English, as one of the two official languages.[39]

See also


  1. 1 2 Filipino at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Resulta mula sa 2000 Census of Population and Housing: Educational Characteristics of the Filipinos, National Statistics Office, 18 March 2005
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Filipino". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "English pronunciation of Filipino".
  5. Constitution of the Philippines 1987, Article XIV, Sections 6 and 7
  6. Nolasco, Ricardo Ma. (24 April 2007). "Filipino and Tagalog, Not So Simple". dalityapi unpoemed. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  7. "Världens 100 största språk 2007" [The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007], Nationalencyklopedin, Nationalencyklopedin, 2007
  8. "Philippines". Ethnologue.
  9. Pineda, Ponciano B.P.; Cubar, Ernesto H.; Buenaobra, Nita P.; Gonzalez, Andrew B.; Hornedo, Florentino H.; Sarile, Angela P.; Sibayan, Bonifacio P. (13 May 1992). "Resolusyon Blg 92-1" [Resolution No. 92-1]. Commission on the Filipino Language (in Tagalog). Retrieved 22 May 2014. Ito ay ang katutubong wika, pasalita at pasulat, sa Metro Manila, ang Pambansang Punong Rehiyon, at sa iba pang sentrong urban sa arkipelago, na ginagamit bilang.
  10. Commission on the Filipino Language Act 1991, Section 2
  11. Constantino, Pamela C. (22 August 2000). "Tagalog / Pilipino / Filipino: Do they differ?". Translated by Antonio Senga. Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia: Northern Territory University. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  12. Rubrico 2012, p. 1
  13. Julian, Peter La. (18 June 2007). "New center to document Philippine dialects". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  14. Patke 2010, p. 71
  15. Manipon 2013, p. 1: "The renaming of Tagalog to Filipino is for national and international use and intent, just like how Castilian, one of the languages of Spain, became known as Spanish all over the world as the national language of Spain."
  16. Paz 2008, p. 1: "Filipino is the national language of the Philippines, based on Tagalog. The new Constitution of 1987 renamed the language 'Filipino.'"
  17. Tabbada 2005, p. 31: "In fact, the Metro Manila local language and the Filipino language are synonymous to Pilipino, the earlier national language itself, which is largely Tagalog-based."
  18. Kaplan 2003, p. 73: "The [Institute of National Language] continued to work on standardisation, translation, research, and lexical elaboration. There were, however, language wars within the INL (and in the Congress and in the Courts) among purists and anti-purists and among proponents of Manila-based Tagalog (Filipino) and of Pilipino."
  19. Rubrico 2012, p. 1: "Filipino, the national lingua franca of the Philippines, is perceived as the Metro Manila Tagalog which has pervaded the entire country through media, local movies, and educational institutions."
  20. Ambeth Ocampo (August 1, 2014). "'Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala'". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  21. Juan José de Noceda, Pedro de Sanlucar, Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, Manila 2013, pg iv, Komision sa Wikang Filipino
  22. Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, Manila 1860 at Google Books
  23. Juan José de Noceda, Pedro de Sanlucar, Vocabulario de la lengua tagala, Manila 2013, Komision sa Wikang Filipino
  25. 1 2 Aspillera, P. (1981). Basic Tagalog. Manila: M. and Licudine Ent.
  27. Andrew Gonzalez (1998). "The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines" (PDF). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 19 (5, 6): 487. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
  28. "1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XIV, Sections 6-9". Chanrobles Law Library. Retrieved 2007-04-08.
  29. Republic Act No. 7104 of 14 August 1991 Commission on the Filipino Language Act. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  30. "Resolusyon Blg. 92-1" (in Filipino). Commission on the Filipino Language. 13 May 1992. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
  31. "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: fil". Summer Institute of Linguistics. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
  32. Inquirer (2007). "New center to document Philippine dialects". Asian Journal. Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
  33. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco (August 30, 2007). "articles: filipino and tagalog, not so simple / how to value our languages". External link in |publisher= (help)
  34. "3 Bulacan courts to use Filipino in judicial proceedings". August 22, 2007. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
  35. Wolff, J.U. (2010). Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Elsevier. pp. 1035–1038. ISBN 978-0-08-087775-4.
  36. Paul Morrow (July 16, 2010). "The Filipino language that might have been". Pilipino Express. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  37. José Ignacio Hualde; Antxon Olarrea; Erin O'Rourke (2012). The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-4051-9882-0.
  38. Martinez, David (2004). A Country of Our Own: Partitioning the Philippines. Los Angeles, California: Bisaya Books. p. 202. ISBN 9780976061304.
  39. Language, Sections 6–9 of Article XIV, 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Chanrobles Law Library.


  • Tabbada, Emil V. (2005), Gripaldo, Rolando M.; McLean, George F., eds., "Filipino Cultural Traits: Claro R. Ceniza Lectures", Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change, IIID, Southeast Asia, Washington, D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 4, ISBN 1-56518-225-1 
  • Kaplan, Robert B.; Baldauf, Richard B. Jr. (2003), Language and Language-in-Education Planning in the Pacific Basin, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 1-4020-1062-1 
  • Patke, Rajeev S.; Holden, Philip (2010), The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English, Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-203-87403-5 
  • Paz, Leo; Juliano, Linda (2008), Hudson, Thom; Clark, Martyn, eds., "Filipino (Tagalog) Language Placement Testing in Selected Programs in the United States", Case Studies in Foreign Language Placement: Practices and Possibilities, Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii, National Language Resource Center, pp. 7–16, ISBN 978-0-9800459-0-1 

Further reading

External links

Tagalog edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Filipino language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Filipino.
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