What are the differences between Tagalog and Filipino?

Tagalog and Filipino

What are the differences between Tagalog and Filipino?

Posted by Anne Quach on Oct 2020.

As one of the Tiger Cub Economies and the third-largest economy in ASEAN, the Philippines offers thousands of opportunities for foreign companies that are going global. When localizing content to enter this market, many companies get confused about whether they should translate their content into Tagalog or Filipino.

In today’s post, we will discuss the differences between Tagalog and Filipino to help you understand them better before making a decision.

1. The brief history of Tagalog and Filipino

Image of former president Manuel L. Quezon proclaiming the national language in 1937.

Image of former president Manuel L. Quezon proclaiming the national language in 1937

In the 1930s, the Philippine Commonwealth Constitution wanted to choose one among many languages spoken in the archipelago, Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, etc. to become the national language of the Philippines.

As Tagalog was spoken widely in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, it was a leading candidate. Unfortunately, due to the objections from some representatives, the concept of a lingua franca was postponed and considered as a future goal. Tagalog was then renamed “Pilipino” in 1959.

Later in the 1970s, Pilipino was developed and enriched by modifying and incorporating words from other languages such as Spanish, English, Chinese, and Malay. For example, “silya” – a Spanish-derived word was adopted to refer to a chair, instead of using the Tagalog word “salumpuwit” which was thought to be less pleasant-sounding. This evolved language was known as Filipino.

In 1987, the government finally labelled Filipino as the national language. Some new Western letters were included in the official Filipino alphabet.

 

2. What are the differences between Tagalog and Filipino?

The Tagalog alphabet has 20 letters while the Filipino alphabet consists of 28 letters – 20 letters from Tagalog and extra letters from Western languages such as c, f, j, x, and z. Filipino only takes words from other languages, thus, the grammatical structure, verbal affixes, pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and linkers of two languages are the same.

Tagalog vs Filipino Alphabet

Tagalog and Filipino Alphabet

It is estimated that about 80-90% of Filipino is Tagalog and the remaining is comprised of Spanish, English,  and other Philippine languages. In general, it is safe to say that Filipino is an updated version of the Tagalog language.

In terms of usage, Filipino is mostly used in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and some urban centres of the archipelago. Meanwhile, regions and provinces such as Central Luzon Region, Southern Luzon, Bangsamoro, and Bicol Region are mostly Tagalog-speaking.

 

3. When is Tagalog and Filipino used?

To answer this question accurately, we thought it would be best to hear from an experienced native Filipino linguist. Ted Leonardo – a senior translator from our team informed us that “Tagalog may sound profound and deep often used in formal documents, while Filipino – a conversational language sounds more natural, modern and adaptive.” There are some key criteria that help define whether you should translate your content into Tagalog or Filipino.

TagalogFilipino
Target audience’s ageTagalog is more familiar to the older audiences as Filipino consists of some loan words from other languages that older generations might not understand.For younger target audiences, you should consider using Filipino.
Types of documentsEducational materials or formal documents, usually legal ones are written in Tagalog.Filipino is usually used in daily conversations as it sounds more natural, modern, and adaptive.
LocationsTagalog-speaking regions and provinces such as Central Luzon Region, Southern Luzon, Bangsamoro, and Bicol Region.Filipino is mostly used in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and some urban centres of the archipelago.

 

In general, if you need to translate your company’s business documents such as contracts and product information or your target is at provincial markets as listed above, we recommend using Tagalog translation services.

In case you are still wondering which is the best choice for your project, contact GTE Localize for a free consultancy. With extensive regional knowledge and years of experience in the translation and localization, we give you the best solution from a team of talented native translators from the Philippines.

 

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