The Tagalog language has some very interesting characteristics that make it distinct from other languages, especially from the perspective of a translation agency or linguist.
Tagalog, also known as Filipino, is the primary language of the Philippines. When one wants to reach the widest possible audience, one should generally communicate and translate documents into Tagalog rather than the many regional languages.Â That is, Tagalog translation will reach the widest audience.
Tagalog’s status as the official language of the Philippines was not an organic development but an administrative decision undertaken in 1937 by representatives of the nation’s different regions who recognized that the nation would require a native language of wider communication as well as continue its traditional use of Spanish and English and found Tagalog to be the best candidate due to its already widespread use and comparatively extensive documentation hence the importance of Tagalog translation for a translation agency or business targeting the Philippine market.
Many terms that have entered the English lexicon years have found their way into the Tagalog language untouched or as simple transliterations of the English original.Â It remains a very common feature of this flexible language to adopt English words and phrases as rather than to coin new “Tagalog” equivalents.Â This flexibility is both a benefit and challenge for a translation agency offering services in Tagalog translation or a business’ in-house linguist.Â
“Taglish” and “Englog” are references given to the confused nature of the language in everyday use as speakers in the Philippines often freely blend English and Tagalog in conversation. Oftentimes, when English speakers view a text that has been translated into Tagalog, they often complain citing many words and phrases were left “un-translated,” not realizing that English loan words make up a sizeable part of the Tagalog lexicon.
One can also say the same for Spanish. Words such as theory, which in Spanish is teorÃa, is “teoriya” in Tagalog. The English word design, which in Spanish is diseno, is disenyo in Tagalog.
Many Filipinos today are naturally tri-lingual as they commonly speak a regional language, Tagalog, which is the official national language, as well as English. Spanish, despite its extensive influence on the Tagalog language, is no longer widely spoken.
Despite the widespread use of English and its status as an official language of the Philippines, English sophistication at the level one finds in English speaking nations such as Great Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, etc. is not common. In as much, the best means of communication remains Tagalog translation and, if one’s budget allows, high quality can generally be achieved from a professional translation agency versed in proper quality control and language management.
For best practices when communicating in the Philippines, one should use the following rules of thumb: Tagalog translation should be selected for all legal documents. For regional advertising, regional languages are often preferable to Tagalog. For advertising in the central Philippines and Metro Manila, Tagalog translation is the most appropriate.