Tagalog Language: Interesting Facts & Resources

Today we feature the Tagalog language! We’ve gathered background information and interesting facts about the language. We also have information on our newest children’s books available in Tagalog.

Where is Tagalog spoken?

Coming from the Austronesian language, Tagalog is predominantly spoken in the Philippines. It is the first language of the ethnic Tagalog people and the second language of the majority of people who live in the Philippines. Globally, about 28.3 million people speak Tagalog.  Outside of the Philippines, there are large concentrations of Tagalog speakers in North America and the Middle East.

Tagalog in the United States

Approximately 1.8 million people speak Tagalog in the United States. According to census data taken in 2013, it is the third most common non-English language spoken at home in the United States, behind Spanish and Chinese. In San Francisco, a city in which 45% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, the government recognized Tagalog as a language that must be available for essential city services. 

Interesting Facts About Tagalog

The word Tagalog comes from the endonym, taga-ilog, which means “river-dweller.”

In an attempt to convert more indigenous Filipinos to Roman Catholicism, the Doctrina Christiana was written in Tagalog in 1593. This book is considered the first book published in Tagalog.

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1520s, Tagalog was written in an alphasyllabary script called Baybayin. 

The English word, “boondocks,” which refers to an out-of-the-way, unsophisticated area, comes from the Tagalog word for mountain, bundók.

In 2020, Nevada included instructions written in Tagalog for the presidential election ballots. 

Tagalog Books – Bilingual Children’s Books

If you interact with children who speak Tagalog, or are learning the language, you may want suggestions on some of the best bilingual children’s books. The Living in Harmony series is a useful resource to discuss universal themes of kindness and respect while learning about a new culture. Language Lizard also offers My Bilingual Talking Dictionary, a unique Tagalog-English bilingual picture dictionary that introduces over 650 widely used words. The book is arranged thematically and enhanced with brilliant illustrations, language scripts, transliterations, and a picture index.

Are you interested in learning about other languages as well?  Check out our series of posts on world languages, including Tigrinya, Hmong, Cherokee, Hindi, Dari and Pashto!

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