Tagalog 101

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The word Tagalog was derived from tagá-ílog, from tagá- meaning "native of" and ílog meaning "river", thus, it means "river dweller." Since there are no surviving written samples of Tagalog before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Some say the all the written texts were burned by the spanish priest saying it is demonic. Very little is known about the history of the language. However there is speculation among linguists that the ancestors of the Tagalogs originated, along with their Central Philippine cousins, from northeastern Mindanao or eastern Visayas.

The first known book to be written in Tagalog is the Doctrina Cristiana (Christian Doctrine) of 1593. It was written in Spanish and two versions of Tagalog; one written in Baybayin and the other in the Latin alphabet.

Throughout the 333 years of Spanish occupation, there have been grammars and dictionaries written by Spanish clergymen such as Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Pedro de San Buenaventura (Pila, Laguna, 1613), Vocabulario de la lengua tagala (1835) and Arte de la lengua tagala y manual tagalog para la adminstración de los Santos Sacramentos (1850).

Poet Francisco "Balagtas" Baltazar (1788-1862) is regarded as the foremost Tagalog writer. His most famous work is the early 19th-century Florante at Laura.

Outside the Philippines, the Tagalog language is usually limited to communication within ethnic Filipino groups. Light blue boxes indicate significant Filipino communities where Tagalog is spoken.

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