Pilipino or Filipino? Philippine Languages Explained

Fascinating facts about our local languages, by the numbers

(SPOT.ph) The National Language Month  is typically associated with debating or orating with a laurel leaf on your head. Usually in Tagalog. You can call it Filipino but really, what’s the difference between Tagalog and Filipino? They sound the same.


As a cheat, the quickest way to know that you’re dealing with a different language and not just a dialect is if you can no longer understand what the other person is saying (like when someone starts talking math or Game of Thrones). Therefore, Filipino is sort of a dialect of Tagalog.


What about the other speech styles, often left out of the celebration, like Bicolano? Obviously, it’s different from Tagalog. It’s a language and it’s not just a language, it’s a macrolanguage with sub-languages like Rinconada Bicol and  Central Bicolano. The latter even has two  dialects under it (Legazpi and Naga).


So if Bicolano, Ilocano, Cebuano are all languages... how many languages does the Philippines have? And where does "Filipino" as a language figure in? Here’s a handy infographic to sort all the facts out:




Did you know?

  • Aside from Ratagnon, there are 24 other languages classified as Visayan Language (including Hiligaynon and Waray-Waray).
  • There are 4 classifications of Philippine languages
    • Borneo -Philippines
    • Northern Philippine
    • Central Philippine
    • Southern Philippine (South Mindanao)
  • There is 1 Philippine-type language spoken outside the Philippines, which is Yami (spoken in Orchid Island, Taiwan)
  • There is 1 creole language in the Philippines, which is Chavacano
    • Chavacano has 6 dialects, 1 of them is extinct (the variant that used to be spoken in Ermita)


Facts and numbers taken from SIL and Ethnologue. Infographic and art by Grace Ng.

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