Also known as Filipino, Tagalog remains a popular language in the Philippines. More than 24 million people speak it as a first language, while over 65 million have adopted it as a second language.

Named after the Tagalog tribe, Tagalog comes from the words tagá-ílog, meaning “native of the river.” Scholars trace its beginnings to at least the 1500s, although much evidence was destroyed when the Spanish came to the Philippines. The earliest known surviving Tagalog text is 1593's Doctrina Christina (Christian Doctrine). After Europeans arrived, Tagalog changed as speakers adopted Spanish words and grammatical rules. Although it originally used the Baybayin alphabet, the language can also be written in the Latin alphabet. However, as a syllabic language, every Tagalog consonant possesses an inherent vowel sound. Additionally, while a standard form of Tagalog exists, a number of regional dialects are spoken by native inhabitants of the islands.

About the Author:

A graduate of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, Andrew Calman, MD, is an ophthalmologist and owner of Premier Eyecare of San Francisco. A speaker of nine languages, Dr. Calman possesses conversational skills in Tagalog.

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