Filipino language

Last updated

Wikang Filipino
Pronunciation [wɪˈkɐŋ ˌfiːliˈpiːno]
Native to Philippines
Native speakers
45 million L2 users (Tagalog) (2013) [1]
Latin (Filipino alphabet)
Philippine Braille
Official status
Official language in
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines
Infobox ASEAN flag.png  ASEAN
Regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-2 fil
ISO 639-3 fil
Glottolog fili1244 [2]
Linguasphere 31-CKA-aa
  Countries with more than 500,000 speakers
  Countries with between 100,000–500,000 speakers
  Countries where it is spoken by minor communities
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Filipino (English: /ˌfɪlɪˈpn/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); [3] Wikang Filipino [wɪˈkɐŋ ˌfiːliˈpiːno] ), also known as Pilipino, is the national language (Wikang pambansa / Pambansang wika) of the Philippines. Filipino is also designated, along with English, as an official language of the country. [4] It is a standardized variety of the Tagalog language, [5] an Austronesian regional language that is widely spoken in the Philippines. As of 2007, Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people[ citation needed ], or about one-third of the Philippine population, while 45 million speak Tagalog as their second language. [1] Tagalog is among the 185 languages of the Philippines identified in the Ethnologue . [6] Officially, Filipino is defined by the Commission on the Filipino Language (Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in Filipino or simply KWF) as "the native dialect, spoken and written, in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in other urban centers of the archipelago." [7]


Filipino is officially taken to be a pluricentric language, as it is further enriched and developed by the other existing Philippine languages according to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution. [8] Indeed, there have been observed "emerging varieties of Filipino which deviate from the grammatical properties of Tagalog" in Cebu, [9] Davao City, [10] and Iloilo [11] which together with Metro Manila form the four largest metropolitan areas in the Philippines.


The Philippines is a multilingual state with more than 175 living languages originating and spoken by various ethno-linguistic groups. [12] There was no one single common language across every cultural group in the Philippine archipelago when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, although chroniclers of the time noted that the kings or chiefs of small polities normally spoke five languages.

The eventual capital established by the Spaniards in the Philippines was Manila, situated in a Tagalog-speaking region. The first dictionary of Tagalog, published as the Vocabulario de la lengua tagala, was written by the Franciscan Pedro de San Buenaventura, [13] and published in 1613 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 (known locally as Pablo Clain) at the beginning of the 18th century. Klein spoke Tagalog and used it actively in several of his books. He wrote a dictionary, which he later passed to Francisco Jansens and José Hernández. [14] Further compilation of his substantial work was prepared by Juan de Noceda and Pedro de Sanlúcar and published as Vocabulario de la lengua tagala in Manila in 1754 and then repeatedly [15] re-edited, with the latest edition being published in 2013 in Manila. [16]

Spanish served in an official capacity as language of the government during the Spanish colonial period. During the American colonial period, English became an additional official language of the Philippines alongside Spanish.

Designation as the national language

While Spanish and English were considered "official languages" during the American colonial period, there existed no "national language" initially. Article XIII, section 3 of the 1935 constitution establishing the Commonwealth of the Philippines provided that:

The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.

On November 13, 1936, the first National Assembly of the Philippine Commonwealth approved Commonwealth Act No. 184; creating the Institute of National Language (later the Surián ng Wikang Pambansâ or SWP) and tasking 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. [17] Later, President Manuel L. Quezon later appointed representatives for each major regional language to form the 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). [18]

The Institute of National Language adopted a resolution on November 9, 1937 recommending Tagalog to be basis of the national language. On December 30, President Quezon issued Executive Order No. 134, s. 1937, approving the adoption of Tagalog as the language of the Philippines, and declared and proclaimed the national language so based on the Tagalog dialect as the national language of the Philippines. The order stated that it would take effect two years from its promulgation. [19] On December 31 of the same year, Quezon proclaimed Tagalog as the basis of the Wikang Pambansâ (National Language) giving the following factors: [18]

  1. Tagalog is widely spoken and is the most understood language 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
  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.

On June 7, 1940, the Philippine National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 570 declaring that the Filipino national language would be considered an official language effective July 4, 1946 [20] (coinciding with the country's expected date of independence from the United States). That same year, the Balarílà ng Wikang Pambansâ (English: Grammar of the National Language) of grammarian Lope K. Santos introduced the 20-letter Abakada alphabet which became the standard of the national language. [21] The alphabet was officially adopted by the Institute for the Tagalog-Based National Language.


Since 1997, a month-long celebration of the national language occurs during August, known in Filipino as Buwan ng Wika. Previously, this lasted only a week and was known as Linggo ng Wika. The celebration coincides with the month of birth of President Manuel L. Quezon, regarded as the "Ama ng Wikang Pambansa" (Father of the national language).

In 1946, Proclamation No. 35 of March 26 provided for a week-long celebration of the national language. [20] this celebration would last from March 27 until April 2 each year, the last day coinciding with birthday of the Filipino writer Francisco Baltazar, author of the Tagalog epic Florante at Laura .

In 1954, Proclamation No. 12 of March 26 provided that the week of celebration would be from March 29 to April 4 every year. [22] This proclamation was amended the following year by President Ramon Magsaysay by Proclamation No. 186 of September 23, moving the dates of celebration to August 13–19, every year. [23] Now coinciding with the birthday of President Manuel L. Quezon. The reason for the move being given that the original celebration was a period "outside of the school year, thereby precluding the participation of schools in its celebration". [23]

In 1988, President Corazon Aquino signed Proclamation No. 19, reaffirming the celebration every August 13 to 19. In 1997, the celebration was extended from a week to a month by Proclamation 1041 of July 15 signed by President Fidel V. Ramos. [24]


In 1959, the language became known as Pilipino in an effort to dissociate it from the Tagalog ethnic group. [25] The changing of the name did not, however, result in universal acceptance among non-Tagalogs, especially Cebuanos who had previously not accepted the 1937 selection. [26]

The 1960s saw the rise of the purist movement where new words were being coined to replace loanwords. This era of "purism" by the SWP sparked criticisms by a number of persons. Two counter-movements emerged during this period of "purism": one campaigning against Tagalog and the other campaigning for more inclusiveness in the national language. In 1963, Negros Occidental congressman Innocencio V. Ferrer took a case reaching the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the choice of Tagalog as the basis of the national language (a case ruled in favor of the national language in 1970). Accusing the national language as simply being Tagalog and lacking any substantial input from other Philippine languages, Congressman Geruncio Lacuesta eventually led a "Modernizing the Language Approach Movement" (MOLAM). Lacuesta hosted a number of "anti-purist" conferences and promoted a “Manila Lingua Franca” which would be more inclusive of loanwords of both foreign and local languages. Lacuesta managed to get nine congressmen to propose a bill aiming to abolish the SWP with an Akademia ng Wikang Filipino, to replace the balarila with a Gramatica ng Wikang Filipino, to replace the 20-letter Abakada with a 32-letter alphabet, and to prohibit the creation of neologisms and the respelling of loanwords. This movement quietened down following the death of Lacuesta. [27] [26] [28]

The national language issue was revived once more during the 1971 Constitutional Convention. While there was a sizable number of delegates in favor of retaining the Tagalog-based national language, majority of the delegates who were non-Tagalogs were even in favor of scrapping the idea of a "national language" altogether. [29] A compromise was reached and the wording on the 1973 constitution made no mention of dropping the national language Pilipino or made any mention of Tagalog. Instead, the 1973 Constitution, in both its original form and as amended in 1976, designated English and Pilipino as official languages and provided for development and formal adoption of a common national language, termed Filipino, to replace Pilipino. Neither the original nor the amended version specified either Tagalog or Pilipino as the basis for Filipino; Instead, tasking the National Assembly to: [30] [31]

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

In 1987, a new constitution designated Filipino as the national language and, along with English, as an official language. [32] That constitution included several provisions related to the Filipino language. [4]

Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that: [4]

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.

Section 17(d) of Executive Order 117 of January 30, 1987 renamed the Institute of National Language as Institute of Philippine Languages. [33] Republic Act No. 7104, approved on August 14, 1991, created the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language, or KWF), superseding the Institute of Philippine Languages. The KWF reports directly to the President and was tasked to undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages. [34] 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. [35]

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.[ original research? ]

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. [36]

On August 22, 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. [37]

Filipino versus Tagalog

While the official view (shared by the government, the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, and a number of educators) is that Filipino and Tagalog are considered separate languages, in practical terms, Filipino may be considered the official name of Tagalog, or even a synonym of it. [38] Today's Filipino language is best described as "Tagalog-based"; [39] 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.

A Filipino speaker, recorded in the Philippines.

Political designations aside, Tagalog and Filipino are linguistically the same; sharing, among other things, the same grammatical structure. On May 23, 2007, Ricardo Maria Nolasco, KWF chair and a linguistics expert, acknowledged in a keynote speech during the NAKEM Conference at the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte, 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. [40] [41] On August 24, 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. [5]

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". [42]


Tagalog-Numbers Unicode range: U+0000-U+007F U+1700–U+171F

C0 Controls and Basic Latin [1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
U+000x NUL  SOH  STX  ETX  EOT  ENQ  ACK  BEL   BS    HT    LF    VT    FF    CR    SO    SI  
U+001x DLE  DC1  DC2  DC3  DC4  NAK  SYN  ETB  CAN   EM   SUB  ESC   FS    GS    RS    US  
U+002x  SP  !"#$%&'()*+,-./
U+007xpqrstuvwxyz{|}~ DEL 
1. ^ As of Unicode version 13.0
Tagalog [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
1. ^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

(Also known as "Baybayin")

See also

Related Research Articles

Tagalog language Austronesian language

Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter of the population of the Philippines, and as a second language by the majority. Its standardized form, officially named Filipino, is the national language of the Philippines, and is one of two official languages alongside English.

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Additional sources

Further reading