Filipino Language

Do you speak Filipino?

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Some may say asking that question is the same as asking a British national if he speaks British or a Canadian if he speaks Canadian. But this is not the case with the Filipino language.


The national language of the Philippines is called Filipino and so are its people. So there’s really nothing wrong with calling the language of the Philippines, Filipino.


Filipino vs. Tagalog


But what is Tagalog? Isn’t it the language Filipinos use? Well, yes and no. Tagalog is just one of the many languages spoken in the Philippines. Actually, there are more than 170 languages spoken in this country of more than 7,000 islands. Most Filipinos can understand Tagalog because the national language, Filipino, is largely based on it.


The Filipino alphabet has 28 letters, which include the entire 26 letters of the English alphabet, the Spanish Ñ and the Ng digraph of Tagalog.The Filipino language is greatly influenced by Spanish. Here is a list of common Filipino words that are Spanish in origin:


English Filipino Spanish
window bintana ventana
age edad edad
bed kama cama
cheese keso queso
work/job trabaho trabajo


There are also English terms with no Filipino equivalent. Most are scientific, technological, medical and mathematical terms (such as computer, cellphone, calculus, algebra, etc.).  Most Filipinos can understand these terms when used in the translated version.


This limitation of the Filipino vocabulary gave birth to “Taglish,” which is essentially a mixture of English and Tagalog. Taglish is commonly used among the younger generation in urban areas in the Philippines. Here are some examples:


English Tagalog Taglish
Please call the driver. Pakitawag ang tsuper. Paki-call ang driver.
Please turn on the computer. Pakibuksan ang kompyuter. Paki-on ang computer.
Have you finished the project? Natapos mo na ba ang proyekto? Finished na ba ang project?


When translating English to Filipino it is important to remember that it is acceptable to mix English words with Filipino, since most Filipinos are familiar with English.



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