The Language of the Week: Malagasy

I literally had no idea about Madagascar- except for the animation movie. 🙂

So last week, I’ve heard a lot in a conversation about Madagascar so I decided to search about the country and the languages spoken. Let’s see what I’ve found interesting about Malagasy!


Malagasy  is an Austronesian language and the national language of Madagascar.

According to Roger Blench (2010), the earliest form of language spoken on Madagascar could have had some non-Austronesian substrata. Malagasy shares much of its basic vocabulary with the Ma’anyan language, a language from the region of the Barito River in southern Borneo. This indicates that Madagascar was first settled by Austronesian people from Maritime Southeast Asia who had passed through Borneo.

There are two principal dialects of Malagasy, eastern, including Merina, and western, including Sakalava, with the isogloss running down the spine of the island, the south being western, and the central plateau and much of the north (apart from the very tip) being eastern.

Malagasy has been written using the Latin script since 1823, before which the Arabic Ajami script, or Sorabe (“large writings”) as it is known in Madagascar, was used for astrological and magical texts.

The alphabet consists of 21 letters: a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, v, y, z.

Diacritics are not obligatory in standard Malagasy.

Malagasy has a verb–object–subject word order:

Mamaky ny boky ny mpianatra
(reads book the student)
“The student is reading the book”

Malagasy has no grammatical gender, and nouns do not inflect for number.

Now let’s learn some words in Malagasy!

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 12.51.17

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lee Eisenberg on April 30, 2013 at 17:31

    I recall some Malagasy pages on Wikipedia, but of course I couldn’t read them. I’d like to know how to say movie quotes in Malagasy.


  2. Posted by Merina on May 5, 2013 at 20:03

    Hello! I’m malagasy.To say “movie” we say “sary mihetsika” /”sarimihetsika”.”Sary” means pictures and “mihetsika” means “moving”. To quote = mitanisa, a quote = fitanisana. So” movie quotes” is ” fitanisana sarimihetsika”


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