Tagalog - A Unique Mix of Cultures

unique mix of cultures

You may be surprised to learn that a language you may have never heard of —Tagalog (tuh-gaa-lug) — has a unique mix of cultures and influences. Also, it is one of the top five languages spoken in the United States. Tagalog comes from ‘Taga-ilog’, or ‘from the river,’ which came from Sanskrit. It is the official language of the Philippines, with the other being English. 


Some find the traditional name hard to pronounce. So, it’s known simply as ‘Filipino’ by some. Tagalog’s home country is the Philippines. However, it also has Malay, Chinese, English, and Spanish influences. The heavy Spanish influence was a result of Spain’s occupation of the Philippines. If you’re familiar with Spanish, you can probably hear the similarities between the two languages. For example, the names for cheese in either tongue are basically the same. ‘Queso’ in Spanish is ‘keso’ in Tagalog since the Philippine alphabet doesn’t contain the letter ‘q.’

A funny fact about this language is that there is no gendered classification for 3rd person pronouns. It may be confusing if a Tagalog-speaker talks about someone using the wrong gender when they communicate in English. But it’s just something they’re not accustomed to. Speaking of English, it’s not uncommon for Tagalog-speakers to talk in ‘Taglish.' That's a blend of the two languages. If you’re fluent in English and hear some Filipinos talking as you pass by, you may be able to understand what they’re saying.

As you can tell, Tagalog has a complicated and rich history. With an interesting mix of cultural influences, Tagalog is a great choice as a language to read to your children. There are over 1.5 million speakers of the language in the US. So, there’s no shortage of people to practice with if you want to pick up a new language. Pick up a book in Tagalog so your kids can experience its unique multicultural influences!

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