I have been here many years and I am still too lazy to learn the language. I make many excuses for that, including that there are so many variations and moving around the country one language is not spoken whilst another is. Also, the national language of Tagalog is spoken in many places but with many local variations.
Having said that it is just an excuse and to live here and work here would be even more fun if we spoke or at least grasped the language. When building a home it would be very nice to communicate with the workers and those involved.
Just where and when did the Philippines national language develop from? Even if it is a national concept there are just so many local and tribal languages too, that make the Philippines a very difficult place to communicate for us- the poor foreigners.
250,000 years ago, people from the Malayan Archipelago began trickling into what is now known as the Philippine Islands. Coming during the Ice Age, they are believed to have crossed on a land bridge that no longer exists. These people were followed 15,000 years ago by a Mongoloid people from Southeast Asia who also crossed on the land bridge. These groups possibly formed the basis for most of the approximately 100 different languages spoken today in the Philippines, although there is no archaeological evidence of these people. Spanning from 7000 BC to 2000 BC larger groups of people began migrating from China and Vietnam. The largest migration took place in the Third Century BC, when people from the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian Archipelago began pouring onto this group of beautiful, tropical islands. These immigrants, speakers from the Austronesian Language Family, surely cemented the basis for the various Philippine languages, of which Tagalog is extremely important (Encarta).
The Sanskrit Impact
One of the first non-Austronesian languages to have a major impact on the Tagalog language was Sanskrit. Two routes by which Sanskrit could have impacted Tagalog, as well as the other languages spoken in the Philippines, are through direct trade, and through indirect culture movements traveling from India through the Malaysian Peninsula and on into the Philippines.
Beginning in the Fifth Century AD, trade in Southeast Asia erupted, and the interaction between the countries in this region of the world was boosted immensely. Traders sailed all over the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea to barter their goods. As a side-effect of this interaction, the languages interacted as well. One of these languages was Sanskrit, a language of India. As the traders mingled, words were borrowed and loaned throughout the region.
The second way in which Sanskrit impacted Tagalog was through culture movements which slowly worked their way down through the Archipelago and into the island groups. The spread of Hindu was a major culture movement. With it, Hindu brought many new customs into these countries. New words had to be borrowed and created to allow for the new customs and traditions (Francisco, 1-5).
The next group of people to have a major affect on the Tagalog language was the Spanish. Beginning in the second half of the 16th Century, catholic friars from Spain began pouring into the Philippines. The Augustinians were the first to come, arriving in 1565. They established the first permanent European residence in the Philippines. They were followed by the Franciscans in 1577, the Jesuits in 1583, and the Dominicans in 1595 (Wolf). With them, the catholic friars brought the Spanish language. All of the friars learned to speak Tagalog, but a great number of Spanish words naturally drifted into the Tagalog language including mainly religious, governmental, social, legal, and abstract terms (Aspillera, viii). One example can be seen in the Tagalog greeting, kumusta ka, which bears great resemblance to the Spanish cómo está.
When the Catholics settled in the islands, they began translating Christian works into Tagalog. The first book printed in the Philippines, the Doctrina Christiana, was written in the Spanish language and the Tagalog language, using the traditional Tagalog characters as well as the Roman alphabet (Wolf). Because of the Spanish impact, not only the language changed, but the writing system as well. After the Spaniards came, the Tagalog language was written using the Roman alphabet as opposed to the traditional Tagalog alphabet.
The English Impact
The Spanish remained in control in the Philippines until December 10, 1898 when the islands were ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. This prominently introduced English into Tagalog (English mariners, including Sir Francis Drake, had come to the Philippines late in the 16th Century, but were unable to overthrow the Spanish). The US continued to control the Philippines until, in 1946, the Republic of the Philippines was established (Encarta). Even though this ended US rule in the Philippines, interactions continued to take place, and English words continue to trickle into the Tagalog lexicon.
In just the few centuries from when the trade in Southeast Asia began flourishing, and Sanskrit started to seep into the Tagalog lexicon until today, the language has undergone innumerable changes. The Sanskrit influence expanded the vocabulary immensely. The Spanish impact also added to the vocabulary and, in addition, changed the orthography. The English effect can additionally be seen in the lexicon. Indeed, all school children in the Philippines today learn to speak English, and the majority of middle-aged people speak some English as well. Very educated people may even speak English with each other at times because it is a more prestigious language (Interview). Tagalog has not yet reached its final destination, it is still changing daily, but as we look back on its roots, we can observe the patterns of change, and then look toward the future, to its final destination.
Learn some common words.
- Thank you: Salamat po
- My name is: Ang pangalan ko ay (name)
- Any: kahit alín – (“Alín” is used as “of these”; Kahit alín is “any of these”, but (Alin-can also be used as another word for “What or Which”-as in (Alin? What? or Which?), kahit saan-(Saan-Where/ Kahit Saan- is any where), kahit ano-(Ano-thing/ kahit ano is anything) (Any-Kahit)
- Good Morning: Magandáng umaga
- Good Afternoon: Magandáng hapon
- Good evening: Magandáng gabí
- Bye: Paalam
- Thank you very much: Maraming salamat [pô]
- Welcome: Waláng anumán (literally, “Nothing at all”)
- 1: isá
- 2: dalawá
- 3: tatló
- 4: apat
- 5: limá
- 6: anim
- 7: pitó
- 8: waló
- 9: siyám
- 10: sampû