Filipino language

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Spoken in: Philippines
Total speakers: First language: See Tagalog
Second language: over 60 million
Overall: 90 million<ref name = "Census">Results from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing: Educational Characteristics of the Filipinos, National Statistics Office, March 18, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-01-21</ref> 
Ranking: 51 (along with other variants of Tagalog)
Language family:
   Central Philippine
Writing system: Latin (Filipino variant
Official status
Official language of: Philippines
Regulated by: Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
(Commission on the Filipino language)
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: fil
ISO 639-3: fil

Filipino is the national and official language of the Philippines as designated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It is an Austronesian language that is the de facto standardized version of Tagalog,<ref>Andrew Gonzalez, FSC. Language planning in multilingual countries: The case of the Philippines. SIL International. Retrieved on 2007-07-15.</ref> though is de jure distinct from it. Sometimes the language is incorrectly used as the generic name for all the languages of the Philippines which, in turn, would be incorrectly termed as "dialects".

The Commission on the Filipino Language, the regulating body of Filipino, envisions a process of popularizing regional dialect usage derived from regional languages, as the foundation of standardizing and intellectualizing a language, based on a lingua franca.



On November 13, 1936, the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Institute) selected Tagalog as the basis of a Wikang Pambansâ (national language) based on the following factors:<ref name=Gonzalez93> Paraluman Aspillera (1993). Pilipino: The National Language, a historical sketch. from Basic Tagalog for Foreigners and Non-Tagalogs, Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co., Inc., Tokyo. Retrieved on 2007-03-24.</ref>

  1. Tagalog is widely spoken and is the language most understood in all the regions of the Philippines.
  2. It is not divided into smaller, separate languages as Visayan is.
  3. Its literary tradition is the richest and the most developed and extensive (mirroring that of the Tuscan dialect of Italy). More books are written in Tagalog than in any other autochthonous Philippine language.
  4. Tagalog has always been the language of Manila - the political and economic capital of the Philippines under both Spanish and American rulers.
  5. Tagalog is the language of the Revolution and the Katipunan—two very important incidents in Philippine history.

In 1959, the language became known as Pilipino to dissociate it from the Tagalog ethnic group.<Ref name=Gonzalez98> Andrew Gonzalez (1998). "The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 19 (5, 6). Retrieved on 2007-03-24. (p.487)</ref>

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

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

In 1987, the new Constitution introduced many provisions for the language.<ref>1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XIV, Sections 6-9. Chanrobles Law Library. Retrieved on 2007-04-08.</ref> 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."

Meanwhile, Article XIV, Section 7 states that:

"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.<ref>Commission on the Filipino Language Act. Chanrobles law library. Retrieved on 2007-07-19.</ref> On May 13, 1992, the commission issued a resolution 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."

However, as with the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, the resolution did not go so far as to categorically identify this language as Tagalog.

Filipino was presented and registered with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and was added to the ISO registry of languages on September 21, 2004 with it receiving the ISO 639-2 code fil.<ref name="ISO 639-2"> Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: fil. Summer Institute of Linguistics. Retrieved on 2007-07-24.</ref> In June 2007, Ricardo Maria Nolasco, Chair of the Commission on the Filipino Language, acknowledged that Filipino was simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with yet no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Ilocano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or any of the other Philippine languages. 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 dialects and languages, something that the commission is working towards.<ref name=Nolasco07> Inquirer (2007). New center to document Philippine dialects. Asian Journal. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.</ref>

On August 22, 2007, 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 College of Law 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.<ref>, 3 Bulacan courts to use Filipino in judicial proceedings</ref>


Filipino is considered by Ethnologue to be a variant of Tagalog, a Central Philippine language within the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.<ref name= "Ethnologue Fil">Filipino: A language of the Philippines. Ethnologue. Retrieved on 2007-06-26.</ref> In practical terms, however, Filipino is a synonym for or the formal name of the Tagalog language, especially as used by non-Tagalogs, who may sometimes refuse to refer to their native language as Tagalog.<ref>A similar situation exists with Valencian, which is the name for the Catalan language in Valencia.</ref>

One famous event where the definition between Filipino and Tagalog is challenged was during the impeachment trial of the former president, Joseph Estrada. When the presiding justice Hilario Davide asked in which language would the witness Emma Lim prefer to testify, Lim promptly answered "Tagalog", to which Davide promptly did not agree. According to Davide, nobody could testify in Tagalog because it is not the official language of the Philippines and there is no available interpreter from Tagalog to Filipino. However, the then President of the Senate, Franklin Drilon, sided on the oneness of the two languages saying that an interpreter will no longer be needed because everybody would understand the testimony in Tagalog.


Further information: Tagalog grammar


Further information: Filipino orthography

Learning Resources

Many of the following books are published in the Philippines. Many are available on


<references />
  1. Paraluman Aspillera (1993 ). Pilipino: The National Language, a historical sketch. from Basic Tagalog for Foreigners and Non-Tagalogs, Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co., Inc., Tokyo. Retrieved on 2007 -03-24.<
  2. Andrew Gonzalez (1998). "The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 19 (5, 6). Retrieved on 2007-03-24.
  3. Resolusyon Blg. 92-1 (Filipino). Komisyon Wikang Filipino (13 May 1992). Retrieved on 2007-03-24.

External links

See also

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