Is Tagalog a 'dialect' or a 'language'?

Seems like even the "experts" can't agree on exactly what a "dialect" is and how different this is from a "language". Some say Tagalog is a "dialect", and some say it is a "language". The challenge to "linguistics expert" community, as such, is to provide some consistent guidance around what exactly differentiates a "language" and a "dialect"?

I'm tempted take advantage of this chaos among the "experts" and crown myself a de facto expert on the subject. But maybe I might serve the "debate" a bit well by deferring to that other Oracle of internet truth. Here is what the venerable Wikipedia (my boldface for emphasis) has to say...
There is no universally accepted criterion for distinguishing a language from a dialect. A framework that may aid in analyzing the issues is provided by the linguistics concepts of Ausbausprache, Abstandsprache and Dachsprache. A number of rough measures exist, sometimes leading to contradictory results. Some linguists[3] do not differentiate between languages and dialects, i.e. languages are dialects and vice versa. The distinction is therefore subjective and depends on the user's frame of reference. Note also that the terms are not by themselves mutually exclusive; there is by itself nothing contradictory in the statement that "the language of the Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German". However, the term dialect always implies a relation between languages: if language X is called a dialect, this implies that the speaker considers X a dialect of some other language Y, which then usually is some standard language.

Language varieties are often called dialects rather than languages:

- because they have no standard or codified form,
- because the speakers of the given language do not have a state of their own,
- because they are rarely or never used in writing (outside reported speech)
- or because they lack prestige with respect to some other, often standardised, variety.

But just going by the latter four-point criteria, it seems Tagalog fails in three out of the four success factors for it to be considered a bona fide "language". Indeed, the last one begs an interesting question:

Do we see Tagalog as a prestigious form of communication?


  1. Nah, rather it is passe cause celebree that is being elevated by its proponents. Tagalog is not comprehensive. It is a dialect spoken by a large number of people but not the entire majority in Pilipinas.

  2. I visited the blog and only one anonymous comment, whilst we end up giving FAcebook more content with 200+ posts.

  3. Post from Carl Tomacruz :

    The Constitution makes it very clear. Article XIV refers to the regional tongues as languages, not dialects.


    Section 6. The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.

    Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.

    Section 7. For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.

    The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.

    Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

    Section 8. This Constitution shall be promulgated in Filipino and English and shall be translated into major regional languages, Arabic, and Spanish.

    Section 9. The Congress shall establish a national language commission composed of representatives of various regions and disciplines which shall undertake, coordinate, and promote researches for the development, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other languages.

    2 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people

  4. Yves-Leopold Germain
    First of all, dialects are mutually intelligible. Caviteño-Tagalog and Bulaceño-Tagalog as far as I know, are mutually intellligible. Hiligaynon in Iloilo and it's diverging variant in Negros are also mutually intelligible, they would be dialects. The statement itself that "Tagalog is a dialect" should be expounded by, "a dialect of what?". Hence, we can NEVER say that Cebuano, Waray, Hiigaynon and Ilocano are dialects of Tagalog, it never is, never was, to assume such would be cultural arrogance at it's very best.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Odin Matanguihan
    Now what might offend people is the implication that the language is unimportant in that it implies few people speak it. MegaManila has 35M people, that's more people than half the countries in the world has. So that also means, despite failing the criteria of having a state of its own, it already has more speakers than the population of most nation-states.

    Another problem could be that there are people who, unable to break from the regionalistic mold, intentionally use the term dialect to remind people that they are equals despite tagalog having more native speakers. The other person on the other hand couldn't accept the attached implication that tagalog is insignificant. Now the inability of both parties to go beyond such sentiments can be paralyzing indeed.

    On second thought, it can also be an intentional attempt at filibustering. If the altercation is started by a party that's on the losing end of the debate, they may either just be delaying the conclusion of an already lost fight, or buying time in the hope that a miracle comes up. In such a case, the party with the upper hand should find a way to move forward, ignore snide remarks if need be.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Pepe Alas
    It's Bulaqueño, not Bulaceño. I hope you don't mind, sir. =)
    3 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Yves-Leopold Germain ‎

    Pepe Alas Ah, yes spelling or lack accent marks if you will.
    3 hours ago · Like

    Yves-Leopold Germain
    Another fallacy to be debunked is the insitence of those who cling onto Dep-Ed or 'DECS' during the time's, insitence that 'Filipino' is different from 'Tagalog', that is another myth. 'Filipino' in reality is nothing more than 'Tagalog-as-spoken-in-the-NCR', those who insist that a 'Filipino' language exists, are either deluded, or truly embrace a deeply embedded 'Dep-Ed brand nationalism' as taught since childhood.

  5. @Hellraker: So which of the points (if any) in the above represents YOUR opinion?

  6. This is the perfect site for anybody who wants to find out about this topic.

  7. Well for me bilang isang taga visayas, I consider all native tongue in each region or each specific place as dialects, accepting Filipino as national Language by which it is intelligible for all the regions of the whole country.
    It just happened that the country's capital is speaking tagalog by which any person working in the capital region no matter where they came from any point of the country adapted the tagalog dialect of which they brought back to their native region or birthplace.. kaya ang Tagalog tongue na adapt ng specific local tongue = the birth of our national language = Filipino (a.k.a. Tagalog) mother language.
    This is only my opinion,is this acceptable?


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