tagalog script

Learning Tagalog: Intro

I’ll be sharing small lessons I’m using to learn Tagalog, but here is a brief history I have found on the language

Tagalog is considered an Austronesian language. It is a quarter of the Philippines population’s first language, and a second language to the majority. Tagalog comes from the Southern Luzon regions and has been historically spoken in and around Manila.

“Tagalog” originally referred to “river dwellers,” coming from the words taga, meaning “from,” and ilog, meaning “river.”

Before the Spanish came, nearly all Tagalog speakers were able to read and write Tagalog in the baybayin script (a system of writing with influence from Sanskrit). In the late 16th century, the Spanish colonization changed this. With influence from baybayin and the Latin alphabet, Spanish friars Romanized the Tagalog writing system with the first book publication in the Philippines, Doctrina Cristiana (1593). Since then, the Latin alphabet became more prominent while baybayin steadily fell into obsolescence.

Today, about 40% of Tagalog terms are influenced or borrowed from Spanish due to well over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. English has made its way into the language as well, with more than one century of formal and informal American colonization.

stickchappy  asked:

What is babayin based off of? is it based off of arabic? Indonesian? or both? Also, what century did the pre colonial filipinos scripts systems flourished? was it somewhere in BC or AD?

If you want a detailed history of Baybayin and the other scripts in the Philippines I suggest reading Paul Marrow’s site on Baybayin here and for more information on the Tagalog script, here.

Baybayin is in no relation to Arabic, not even remotely. That is a misconception and one started by Paul Versoza, same one who coined the incorrect term Alibata. As a matter of fact, there is no native script or language in Southeast Asia that derives from Arabic. The language and script that Baybayin and many other Southeast Asian scripts are based off of however is Sanskrit. 

No one knows for sure when and where Baybayin actually started developing and from what script. There are some likely suggestions but the top contender is the Kawi script of Java because of the close resemblance and for the fact that the script was used around the Tagalog areas near the Pasig River based on its use on the Laguna Copperplate. 

The use of the script and the decline is a complicated one. When the early Spaniards arrived they noted that the people were literate. In almost every record documenting the culture and customs of the people they met and colonized they always mention how they can read and write. The Spaniards in a way to try and communicate and convert the people learned the script and even wrote with it to communicate and spread their religion. We have some signatures in Baybayin. We also have some accounts stating how prideful our ancestors were in regards to their script as they refused to use the Spanish virama mark.

The experts of the time were consulted, we read in the Tagalog orthography, about this new invention with the request that they adopt and use it in writing for the convenience of everybody. But after highly praising it and expressing their thanks, they decided that it cannot be introduced into their writing system because it was against the intrinsic nature and character given the Tagalog language by God and it would be equivalent to destroying in one stroke the whole syntax, prosody and orthography of their language.”

- Pedro Andres de Castro, 1776

Up to the 1700’s the script was still being used however it soon declined and people started using the roman script. Why? When they were so prideful of their script? According to Paul Marrow, who is one of the reputable scholars on Baybayin and other scrips from the Philippines, suggests, “The sad fact is that most forms of indigenous art in the Philippines were abandoned wherever the Spanish influence was strong and only exist today in the regions that were out of reach of the Spanish empire.” Another theory by Hector Santos, another notable Baybayin researcher, is that due to the demands of the Spaniards on taxes, people started to neglect their practices which in turn wasn’t passed down to their children. He said that the disappearance of the Tagalog script might have marked the point in history when the cultural will was finally broken.

As for the other scripts in the Philippines some are still in everyday use such as the Hanunó’o and Budhid scripts of the Mangyans in Mindoro and the Pala’wan and Tagbanwa scripts in Palawan. Sadly however due to Westernization starting to make its way to the areas where colonization never touched before and the younger generations not having any interest in their ethnic customs and practices in favor of mainstream and American influences, the scripts are slowly being out of use.