Filipino Tagalog Speech Sounds: Determining Difference from Disorder

Here’s a sneak peek of one of the things we are working on:: The second edition of Difference or Disorder:  Understanding Speech and Language Development in Students from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds.  One of the new chapters is Filipino Tagalog Speech Sounds and Language Structures.

Filipino Facts

Filipino and Tagalog Speech and Language Development - map of the Philippines

  • Number of speakers: More than 90 million speakers worldwide
  • Writing system: Latin (Filipino alphabet)
  • Language Family: Austronesian
  • Official language in: the Philippines

Are Filipino and Tagalog the same language?

Filipino has been the national language of the Phillipines since 1937 (Malabonga & Marinova-Todd, 2007)  and it is the standard register of the Tagalog language. What exactly does that mean? One author described Filipino as “Tagalog-Plus.” Filipino is Tagalog with the addition of contributions from many other languages. Most people do not strictly differentiate between the terms Filipino and Tagalog.

Let’s take a look at the Filipino / Tagalog speech sounds as compared to English.

filipino tagalog speech sounds

filipino tagalog speech sounds

Filipino Tagalog Phonology and Phonotactics

Patterns of Native Language Influence: Example:
There are no initial word consonant clusters (except in borrowed words) so initial consonant clusters are sometimes reduced. plank-lank



Stress is phonemic and occurs on one of the last two syllables of the word BUTterfly – butterFLY
Replacement of /v/ with /b/ vase – base
Replacement of voiced and voiceless “th” with /d/ or /t/ that – dat


math – mat

If you want to spend some of your CEU time honing your skills with English Language Learners, take a look at our Difference or Disorder Essentials Pack that includes a copy of Difference or Disorder? and our two top courses.

More Languages!

Thanks to the great feedback we have gotten from those using the Difference or Disorder book, we’ve set out to make a second filipino tagalog speech sounds edition that will include Filipino/Tagalog, Cambodian, Urdu/Hindi, Ibo, Amharic, Portuguese, Turkish, Hmong, Albanian, Thai, Kinyarwanda (ever heard of that one?), and Romanian.  If there are other languages you would like to see, please let us know.  For those not familiar with our current book, we’ve already compared and contrasted English with Spanish, Vietnamese (see post about it), Hebrew, Korean, German, Czech, Japanese, Farsi, Mandarin, French, Russian, Arabic, and the African-American English dialect.

Case Studies:  Difference or Disorder?

We are also assembling a series of case studies to accompany the book that will provide great training opportunities for experienced SLPs, as well as graduate students and those who are newer to the field.  We have many university professors lined up to try these out in their classes.  Here’s a look at a portion of the chapter on Filipino/Tagalog.

If you are looking for speech therapy in Austin, Texas for a child who speaks Filipino / Tagalog, contact our Austin speech therapy clinic.

Written by: Ellen Kester

13 Comments on “Filipino Tagalog Speech Sounds: Determining Difference from Disorder”

  1. May 17, 2019 at 3:45 pm #

    Replacement of /f/ with /p/
    Replacement of /δ/ with /d/

    • May 24, 2019 at 1:23 pm #

      These first substitution pattern you mention would not be expected because /f/ does exist in Tagalog. The second pattern would make sense in Tagalog-influenced English because there is no interdental voiced fricative (voiced th)

      • March 14, 2022 at 9:08 am #

        I’m confused…. the venn diagram shows /f/ only on the English side, how does it exist in Tagalog?

      • March 17, 2022 at 2:25 pm #

        /f/ does not exist in Tagalog so it only shows up on the English side of the Venn diagram.

    • June 24, 2019 at 11:31 pm #

      I agree with the comment above, my parents are filipino and substitute /f/ for /p/ and vice versa, /b/ and /v/ are also substituted interchangeably. This just coming from someone who grew up in a family of english second language speakers, as well as surrounded by them my whole life! 🙂

  2. January 26, 2021 at 1:49 pm #

    Could you share any information regarding Amharic language development? I see you mentioned it as “coming soon” in the second edition! We can’t wait to purchase that text for all district SLPs as soon as it’s published! Thanks in advance for any blog posts or information regarding Amharic.

    • January 26, 2021 at 3:13 pm #

      Hi Sarah, I shared some information with you via email.
      Best, Ellen

  3. September 15, 2021 at 10:46 am #

    /sh/ for /tr/
    /sh/ for /ch/
    /sh/ for /dg/

    • September 21, 2021 at 8:52 pm #

      Based on the Venn diagram, we would not expect /sh/ for /ch/ or /sh/ for /dj/ as influence patterns. There are no initial consonant clusters so /sh/ for /tr/ might not be problematic if it occurred in word initial position.

  4. December 22, 2021 at 9:24 am #

    Is there any information about the language development for Tagalog? We have a student in evaluation right now with a student who speaks Tagalog and English. Thanks so much!

    • December 29, 2021 at 2:22 pm #

      We haven’t digested the information out there for Tagalog and language use but there is a pretty robust Wikipedia page on it. Tagalog Language

  5. September 6, 2022 at 3:30 pm #

    How would a person who speaks tagalog pronounce the english /r/?

    • September 6, 2022 at 9:34 pm #

      If they haven’t mastered the English r, they might produce a flap r or slightly trilled r.

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