Tagalog is the largest of the Philippine languages and, as Filipino, the national language of the Philippines. It is a member of the Austronesian languages and is a relative to other languages such as Malay and Indonesian, to which it shares similarities to, like stops and sentence structure.
The language is natively spoken by 22 million Filipinos throughout the Philippines and as a second language by more than 65 million Filipinos nationwide. It is the sixth-largest language in the United States and is the language of the large Filipino diaspora, totaling some 11 million Filipinos.
Tagalog also has a vocabulary enriched by its pre-colonial and colonial history. Spanish is the single largest contributor to the Filipino vocabulary and as such Filipino seems to the foreign ear to sound somewhat like Spanish. Other contributors include Arabic, Sanskrit, Min Nan Chinese, Malay, Nahuatl, Tamil, Persian and other Philippine languages such as Kapampangan and Ilocano.
As Filipino, the Philippines' national language, Tagalog is the language of the media, public and some private education, conversation, the clergy and even in adminstration. It is a co-official language along with English and is the lingua franca of the Philippines. As such, Filipino is one of the many symbols of nationhood that binds the Philippine nation together.
Tagalog was once written using Baybayin, more commonly known as Alibata, a script based on the Kavi script of Java. The script enjoyed a high literacy rate until the Spanish arrival, which led to its extinction. Today, Tagalog is written in the Latin alphabet, but with two different letter sets: the older Abakada (with 20 letters) and the newer Alpabetong Filipino (Filipino alphabet, with 28 letters).