an Austronesian language, commonly spoken in the Philippines, and is the
basis for the national language called Filipino.
There are an estimated 17 million native speakers of Tagalog and about 50
million others who speak it as a second language.
While most Filipinos are capable of speaking some form of Tagalog, the
native speakers are concentrated in southwestern regions of Luzon island,
especially in the areas around Manila. Some 17 million people in this area
speak Tagalog as their native tongue while many Filipinos in other parts of
the country understand the language and is usually their secondary language.
Tagalog has five vowel sounds, corresponding to the five vowels. The vowel a
is pronounced as in hat while u is pronounced as in moon.
Before the Spanish colonization, Tagalog had only 3 vowels, a, o/u, and e/i.
With the introduction of a romanized alphabet, however, the language
differentiated the o from the u sound and the e from the i sound. This can
explain why the adopted Spanish words such as ventana are written as bintana,
because essentially the Tagalog e and i are of the same vowel, varying only
in degree of vocal intensity.
Modern Tagalog is written using a modified Latin alphabet. Tagalog used to
have diacritics in written text to indicate pronunciation, but has gradually
been dropped in modern texts. The only diacritic remaining is the tilde (~),
which is used for the letter ñ.