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Greeting Norms

Although Tagalog is spoken in many countries, in the Philippines the typical greeting is “kumusta kayo” which is Tagalog for “how are you?” How you greet someone depends on the age of the person you are greeting and the familiarity you have with that person.

  • When greeting someone they do not know, men tend to give a light handshake with a smile. Women simply smile and wave.

  • When greeting a close friend or family member, men tend to give a handshake and a pat on the back. Women will greet each other with a hug and a kiss.

  • When greeting a person older than you that is within your generation, you must refer to that person as “kuya” if it is a man and “ate” if it is a woman.

A gesture that is a common greeting is the one called “mano”. It is done only with elders and is sign of respect towards them or a way of accepting a blessing from them. In this gesture, the person bows down and presses his/her forehead on the hand of the elderly person offering it.

Communication styles

In the case of Filipinos, they use indirect communication very often. They do this to avoid embarrassment or humiliation on either side because of something that was said. They are not direct and they do not speak harshly. They are very polite and hardly ever interrupt someone else. When they do share their opinion, they do so humbly to avoid seeming haughty.

Because they do not speak directly, what they say normally has an underlying meaning and it takes effort to understand clearly what they are really trying to communicate.

When speaking to those who are older or of high status, at the end of the sentence they say “po” in order to be respectful. In Tagalog, “thank you” is “salamat” but if you were speaking to someone older or of high status you would be expected to say “salamat po”.

Personal space and touching

When interacting with people they are familiar with, Filipinos tend to prefer standing at an arm's length from one another. Around strangers this distance is farther. However, in public areas like a market or subway, personal space is often limited and pushing is common.

Eye contact and gestures

While Filipinos often laugh in conversations, the meaning of laughter tends to depend on the situation. At times, laughing may indicate happiness or pleasure, while other times it may be used to relieve tension. In some circumstances, laughter is used as an attempt to cover embarrassment.

Putting one’s hands on their hips is a sign of anger. Filipinos may point to objects by puckering their lips and moving their mouths in the direction they are pointing to. If a Filipino wants someone’s attention, it is common for them to make a sound like ‘pssst’.

Tagalog Culture Reference Guide

Tagalog Population in the United States

Professional Tagalog Translation Services

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Volatia is a leading provider of Tagalog translation services. Whether you are in the United States or anywhere else in the World, Volatia is uniquely capable of bridging all of your Tagalog translations and interpretations. The secret sauce is our proprietary technology, coupled with our vast network of quality Tagalog translators and interpreters.

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Among the many reasons to choose Volatia for your professional translation services, below are a few to consider:

  1. We support more than 280 languages on demand. Simply download our mobile app or log in to our online portal to request or schedule your Tagalog translation service or connect to one of our Tagalog interpreters within seconds. Volatia can provide high-quality English to Tagalog document translation.

  2. We’re local. Volatia employs professional Tagalog translators and interpreters in all 50 U.S. States, with a major Tagalog interpreter contact center network in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Virginia.

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Although Pilipino is not considered a dialect but a language, it is in truth based on the language Tagalog. Tagalog is the base for Pilipino which is one of the two official languages of the Philippines.

It is spoken by over 25 million who speak Pilipino as a second language. Pilipino is considered the standardized version of Tagalog and even its grammar is based on Tagalog grammar.


This dialect is also known as “Mariveleño”. This dialect has its name because of the region where it is spoken which has the same name, Bataan.


This dialect also receives its name from the region where it comes from which is Manila. This dialect is also known as Standard Filipino and it is a basis for the language Filipino.

It is not unusual for English terms to be merged into this form of Tagalog. This has come to be known as Taglish which is the mixture of English and Tagalog.


Southern Tagalog dialects have a glottal stop after consonants and before vowels. For example, “gabi” which means “night” would be pronounced “gab-i”. In Morong Tagalog, the letter d in a word is commonly replaced with an r.

Another example, the word “dagat” would be pronounced “ragat”. The interjection “as does hani” identifies someone from Morong.


Batangan is also known as Batangas. In this dialect and in other Southern dialects the prefix –um- which is used in Standard Tagalog is replaced by the prefix na-. This is done to change the tense of the word.

However, because of the different prefixes, while a person speaking Batangan would be saying “He’s eating a chicken”, someone who speaks Manila Tagalog would understand “He was eaten by a chicken”.

“Ala eh” is an interjection that identifies someone who speaks Batangan. This dialect is also identified because of the strong accent and also because it is related to a more traditional and original form of Tagalog.

The pronunciation for many words is different than from Standard Tagalog as well. For example, “lola” which means “grandmothers” is pronounced “lula” in Batangan.


Although most Tagalog dialects are very similar and have mutual intelligibility, each dialect has its own set of words and accents that set it apart from the other dialects. Bulacan is not the exception. While something can have a certain name in Standard Tagalog, it can have a completely different name in Bulacan.

One example is the word “magnet”. “Magnet” in Standard Tagalog is “pang-akit” while in Bulacan it is “bato-balani”. This is only one of many examples of words that are different from one dialect to the other.

Other dialects that are also derived from Tagalog are Lubang, Marinduque, Tanay-Paete, and Tayabas.

Tagalog Dialects

Tagalog is one of the major languages spoken in the Philippines. It is the native tongue of the people in the Tagalog region in the northern island Luzon. 

Within the Philippines, Tagalog is spoken in Manila, most of central Luzon, and Palawan. Tagalog is also spoken by persons of Filipino descent in Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Countries Where Tagalog is the Official Language

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  • Luzon

  • Philippines

Tagalog is the fourth most spoken language in the United States, spoken by over a million speakers. 

California, the third largest US state, has 832,024 residents who speak Tagalog at home, followed by the state of Nevada with 74,337 residents and Washington state with 62,201.

Of course, each of the 50 states is home to many Tagalog but the ones listed stand out based on annual data from the American Community Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau

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Whether you need documents or files translated from English to Tagalog or Tagalog to English translation, our detail-oriented team will ensure that your Tagalog document translation is perfect without losing the original intent of the language.

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