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San Francisco to Require Tagalog Translations For City Services

| April 3, 2014
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By Bay City News

San Francisco has certified Tagalog as a third additional language, besides English, that must be used in communicating essential city services, city officials announced today.

San Francisco City Hall (jivedanson/Flickr)

San Francisco City Hall (jivedanson/Flickr)

Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, joins Chinese and Spanish as languages for which city departments communicating with the public must provide translations.

Mayor Ed Lee’s office said that the city’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs determined that 10,000 San Franciscans who have limited English proficiency speak Tagalog, the threshold that requires translation under the city’s Language Access Ordinance.

Forty-five percent of San Franciscans don’t speak English at home and may speak any one of 112 different languages spoken in the Bay Area, according to the mayor’s office.

The Language Access Ordinance was originally passed in 2001 and is one of the most comprehensive local language laws in the country, according to the mayor’s office.

While some city departments already provide information in Tagalog to meet state and federal standards, according to the mayor’s office, making it a certified language will require more rigorous study for how to best provide multilingual services to the Tagalog-speaking community.

The new requirements for Tagalog communication will be phased in over 18 months, beginning on July 1.

“Filipino residents feel that being able to communicate in their native tongue opens up the whole world to them and their families,” Filipino Community Center organizational director Terrence Valen said. “It is a long-overdue recognition of the near century-long presence and continuing concentration of Filipinos in San Francisco.”

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