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Texas ISD School Guide
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Language in the Philippines
By:Richard Romando

The Philippines is a multi-lingual country. Its rich history and highly segregated demography have allowed for the development of several dialects.

The national language of the Philippines is Filipino or Tagalog. The language was originally called "Pilipino" but was changed in 1989 to its current name by virtue of an act in Philippine Congress. It is the most popular of the almost 170 native languages spoken within the country. It is the language mostly spoken by the inhabitants of Luzon.

Three centuries ago, the official language of the country was Spanish. This was mainly due to the rule of Spanish colonizers. By the 1900's, during the American occupation, the national language became English. This was the language used in education and media. However, Spanish was still recognized as a language of the country and was even reaffirmed in the 1935 Philippine Constitution.

The same constitution paved the way for the development of the Philippines' own language. It was a Philippine president named Manuel Quezon, who led the initiative to select a national language for the country. In the year 1937, Tagalog was officially declared as the country's national language.

To further classify Philippine languages, academicians have subdivided these into three major groupings. The first one is the Northern Philippine languages that are spoken mainly in Northern Luzon. The next is the Meso Philippine language that includes languages spoken by people in Central Luzon. Languages under this grouping are among the most widespread. Meanwhile, those spoken in the southern region of the country belong to the Southern Philippine language grouping. Many of these languages show the influence of Sanskrit, Arabic and Indonesian words.

Today, the Philippine constitution recognizes two official languages: Filipino and English, with the former declared the national language. However, there are still other sub-languages that can be rightfully called dialects. These include Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan and Bikol. All these languages belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.

Richard Romando

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