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Malagasy (; ) is an
Austronesian Austronesian may refer to: *The Austronesian languages *The historical Austronesian peoples who carried Austronesian languages on their migrations {{disambiguation ...
language and the national language of
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
. Malagasy is the westernmost
Malayo-Polynesian language The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), ...
, brought to Madagascar by the settlement of Austronesian peoples from the
Sunda islands The Sunda Islands are a group of islands in the Malay Archipelago. They consist of the Greater Sunda Islands The Greater Sunda Islands are four tropical islands situated within Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the ...

Sunda islands
around the 5th century AD. The Malagasy language is one of the
Barito languages The Barito languages are around twenty Dayak languages, Dayak (Austronesian languages, Austronesian) languages of Borneo, Southern Philippines, plus Malagasy language, Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. They are named after the Barito R ...
and is most closely related to the
Ma'anyan language Ma'anyan or Ma'anjan or Maanyak Dayak is an Austronesian language belonging to the East Barito languages. It is spoken by about 150,000 Ma'anyan people (subgroup of Dayak people) living in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is clo ...
, still spoken on
Borneo Borneo (; id, Kalimantan) is the third-List of islands by area, largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java Is ...

Borneo
to this day. Malagasy also includes numerous Malay and Javanese loanwords, from the time of the early Austronesian settlement and trading between Madagascar and the Sunda Islands. After c. 1000 AD, Malagasy incorporated numerous
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
and
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
loanwords, brought over by new settlers and traders. Malagasy is spoken by around 25 million people in Madagascar and the
Comoros The Comoros,; ar, جزر القمر, ' officially the Union of the Comoros,Comorian languages, Comorian: ''Udzima wa Komori,'' french: Union des Comores, ar, الاتحاد القمري ' is an island country in the Indian Ocean, at the nor ...
. Most people in Madagascar speak it as a first language, as do some people of
Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also

*Madagascar (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language and nationality disambi ...
descent elsewhere. Malagasy is divided between two main dialect groups; Eastern and Western. The central plateau of the island, where the capital
Antananarivo Antananarivo (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in ...

Antananarivo
and the old heartland of the
Merina Kingdom The Merina Kingdom or Kingdom of Madagascar, officially the Kingdom of Imerina (–1897), was a Pre-colonial African kingdoms, pre-colonial state off the coast of Southeast Africa that, by the 19th century, dominated most of what is now Madagasc ...

Merina Kingdom
is located, speaks the Merina dialect. The Merina dialect is the basis of Standard Malagasy, which is used by the government and media in Madagascar. Standard Malagasy is one of two official languages of Madagascar alongside French, in the 2010 constitution of the Fourth Republic of Madagascar. Malagasy is written in the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
introduced by Western missionaries in the early 19th century. Previously, the
Sorabe Sorabe or Sora-be () is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can ...
script was used, a local development of the .


Classification

The Malagasy language is the westernmost member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the
Austronesian language family The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family, widely spoken throughout Maritime Southeast Asia, Madagascar, the islands of the Pacific Ocean and Taiwan (by Taiwanese aborigines). There are also a number of speakers in Asia, continent ...
, a grouping that includes languages from
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
, and the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
. In fact, Malagasy's distinctiveness from nearby African languages had already been noted by early scholars, such as the Dutch scholar
Adriaan Reland Adriaan Reland 1676 - 1718 Adriaan Reland (also known as ''Adriaen Reeland/Reelant'', ''Hadrianus Relandus'') (17 July 1676, De Rijp, North Holland North Holland ( nl, Noord-Holland ) is a Provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlan ...

Adriaan Reland
in 1708. Among all Austronesian languages, Dahl (1951) demonstrated that Malagasy and Ma'anyan – an
East Barito language The East Barito languages are a group of a dozen Dayak languages, Dayak (Austronesian languages, Austronesian) languages of Borneo, and most famously Malagasy language, Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. They are named after the Barito ...
spoken in
Central Kalimantan Central Kalimantan ( id, Kalimantan Tengah), is a provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia. It is one of five provinces in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo. Its provincial capital is Palangka Raya and in 2010 its population was over 2 ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
on the island of
Borneo Borneo (; id, Kalimantan) is the third-List of islands by area, largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java Is ...

Borneo
– were particularly closely related. The language also has apparent influence from early
Old Malay Malay language, Malay was first used in the first millennia known as Old Malay, a part of the Austronesian languages, Austronesian language family. Over a period of two Millennium, millennia, Malay has undergone various stages of development that ...
. Furthermore, there appears to be a
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
influence or substratum in Malagasy
phonotactics Phonotactics (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
(Dahl 1988). Later, Adelaar (1995) suggested that the vocabulary of Malagasy also contains many words that are of
South Sulawesi South Sulawesi ( id, Sulawesi Selatan) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first ...
origin. Further evidence for this suggestion was presented by Blench (2018).


Etymology

Malagasy is the
demonym A demonym (; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
of
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
, from which it is taken to refer to the people of Madagascar in addition to their language.


History

Madagascar was first settled by
Austronesian peoples The Austronesian peoples, also sometimes referred to as the Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eas ...
from
Maritime Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north co ...
from the
Sunda Islands The Sunda Islands are a group of islands in the Malay Archipelago. They consist of the Greater Sunda Islands The Greater Sunda Islands are four tropical islands situated within Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the ...

Sunda Islands
(
Malay archipelago The Malay Archipelago ( ceb, Kapupud-ang Malay, ms, Kepulauan Melayu, tgl, Kapuluang Malay, jv, Nusantara) is the archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection o ...

Malay archipelago
). As for their route, one possibility is that the Indonesian Austronesian came directly across the Indian Ocean from Java to Madagascar. It is likely that they went through the
Maldives Maldives (, ; dv, ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ, translit=Dhivehi Raajje IPA: ), officially the Republic of Maldives, is an archipelagic country in the Indian subcontinent of Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and ...

Maldives
, where evidence of old Indonesian boat design and fishing technology persists until the present. The migrations continued along the first millennium, as confirmed by linguistic researchers who showed the close relationship between the Malagasy language and Old Malay and Old Javanese languages of this period. The Malagasy language originates from the Southeast
Barito languages The Barito languages are around twenty Dayak languages, Dayak (Austronesian languages, Austronesian) languages of Borneo, Southern Philippines, plus Malagasy language, Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. They are named after the Barito R ...
, and the
Ma'anyan language Ma'anyan or Ma'anjan or Maanyak Dayak is an Austronesian language belonging to the East Barito languages. It is spoken by about 150,000 Ma'anyan people (subgroup of Dayak people) living in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is clo ...
is its closest relative, with numerous Malay and Javanese loanwords.Otto Chr. Dahl, ''Malgache et Maanjan: une comparaison linguistique'', Egede-Instituttet Avhandlinger, no. 3 (Oslo: Egede-Instituttet, 1951), p. 13. It is known that Ma'anyan people were brought as labourers and slaves by
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
and Javanese people in their trading fleets, which reached Madagascar by ca. 50–500 AD. Later, c. 1000, the original Austronesian settlers mixed with
Bantus Bantu peoples are the speakers of Bantu languages, comprising several hundred Indigenous peoples of Africa, indigenous List of ethnic groups of Africa, ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa, spread over a vast area from Central Africa across the Afr ...
and
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
, amongst others. There is evidence that the predecessors of the Malagasy dialects first arrived in the southern stretch of the east coast of Madagascar. Malagasy has a tradition of oratory arts and poetic histories and legends. The most well-known is the national epic, ''
IboniaThe Ibonia is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhum ...
'', about a Malagasy folk hero of the same name.


Geographic distribution

Malagasy is the principal language spoken on the island of Madagascar. It is also spoken by Malagasy communities on neighboring Indian Ocean islands such as
Réunion Réunion (french: La Réunion, ; previously ''Île Bourbon''; rcf, label= Reunionese Creole, La Rénion) is an island in the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or t ...

Réunion
,
Mayotte Mayotte (french: Mayotte, ; Shimaore language, Shimaore: ''Maore'', ; mg, Maiôty) is an overseas department and region, overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France officially named the Department of Mayotte (Frenc ...

Mayotte
and
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=Mauritian Creole Mauritian Creole or Morisien or formerly Morisyen ( mfe, kreol morisien, links=no ) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: ...

Mauritius
. Expatriate Malagasy communities speaking the language also exist in Europe and North America, including, to a lesser extent, in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
and
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
.


Legal status

The Merina dialect of Malagasy is considered the national language of Madagascar. It is one of two official languages alongside French in the 2010 constitution put in place the Fourth Republic. Previously, under the 2007 constitution, Malagasy was one of three official languages alongside French and English. Malagasy is the language of instruction in all public schools through grade five for all subjects, and remains the language of instruction through high school for the subjects of history and Malagasy language.


Dialects

There are two principal dialects of Malagasy; Eastern (including
Merina The Merina people (also known as the Imerina, Antimerina or Hova) are the largest ethnic group in Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: Répub ...
) and Western (including
Sakalava The Sakalava are an ethnic group of Madagascar. They are found on the western and northwest region of the island, in a band along the coast. The Sakalava are one of the smaller ethnic groups, constituting about 6.2 percent of the total population ...
), with the
isogloss An isogloss, also called a heterogloss (see Etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicate ...
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. ''
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as Ethnoloɠue) is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living language A language is a structured system of communicat ...
'' encodes 12 variants of Malagasy as distinct languages. They have about a 70% similarity in lexicon with the Merina dialect.


Eastern Malagasy

The Eastern dialects are: * Northern Betsimisaraka Malagasy (1,270,000 speakers) – spoken by the Betsimisaraka on the northeastern coast of the island * Southern Betsimisaraka Malagasy (2,000,000 speakers) – spoken by the Betsimisaraka in the North of the region Vatovavy Fito Vinany. * Plateau Malagasy (10,893,000 speakers) – spoken in the centre of the island and includes southeastern dialects like Antemoro and Antefasy. * Tanosy Malagasy (639,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Antanosy people The Antanosy is a ethnic groups of Madagascar, Malagasy ethnic group who primarily live in the Anosy region of southeastern Madagascar, though there are also Antanosy living near Bezaha, where some of the Antanosy moved after the Merina people con ...
in the south of the island * Tesaka Malagasy (1,130,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Antaisaka people The Antesaka, also known as Tesaka, or Tesaki, are an ethnic groups of Madagascar, ethnic group of Madagascar traditionally concentrated south of Farafangana along the south-eastern coast. They have since spread more widely throughout the island. T ...
in the southeast of the island.


Western Malagasy

The Western dialects are: * Antankarana Malagasy (156,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Antankarana The Antankarana (or ''Antakarana'') are an ethnic groups of Madagascar, ethnic group of Madagascar inhabiting the northern tip of Madagascar, around Antsiranana. Their name means "the people of the ''tsingy''," the limestone rock formations that di ...
in the northern tip of the island * Bara Malagasy (724,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Bara people The Bara people are a Malagasy ethnic group living in the southern part of the central plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth scienc ...
in the south of the island * Masikoro Malagasy (550,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Masikoro The Masikoro are a group of farmers and herders who inhabit areas surrounding the Mikea Forest, a patch of mixed spiny forest and dry deciduous forest along the coast of southwestern Madagascar in Toliara Province. Along with Vezo people, Vezo an ...
in the southwest of the island * Sakalava Malagasy (1,210,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Sakalava people The Sakalava are an ethnic group of Madagascar. They are found on the western and northwest region of the island, in a band along the coast. The Sakalava are one of the smaller ethnic groups, constituting about 6.2 percent of the total population ...
on the western coast of the island * Tandroy-Mahafaly Malagasy (1,300,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Antandroy The Tandroy are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group of Madagascar inhabiting the arid southern part of the island called Androy. Tracing their origins back to the East Africa mainland. In the 17th century however, the Tandroy emerged as a confed ...
and the Mahafaly people on the southern tip of the island * Tsimihety Malagasy (1,615,000 speakers) – spoken by the
Tsimihety people The Tsimihety are a ethnic groups of Madagascar, Malagasy ethnic group who are found in the north-central region of Madagascar. Additionally, Bushi (41,700 speakers) is spoken on the
French overseas territory Overseas France (french: France d'outre-mer, ''l'Outre-mer'', or colloquially ''les DOM-TOM'') consists of all the French-administered territories outside Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmass ...
of
Mayotte Mayotte (french: Mayotte, ; Shimaore language, Shimaore: ''Maore'', ; mg, Maiôty) is an overseas department and region, overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France officially named the Department of Mayotte (Frenc ...

Mayotte
, which is part of the Comoro island chain situated northwest of Madagascar.


Region specific variations

The two main dialects of Malagasy are easily distinguished by several phonological features. Sakalava lost final nasal consonants, whereas Merina added a voiceless : * *tañan 'hand' → Sakalava ''**tan̈a'', Merina ''tanana'' Final *t became in the one but in the other: * *kulit 'skin' → Sakalava ''**holitse'', Merina ''hoditra'' Sakalava retains ancestral *li and *ti, whereas in Merina these become (as in ''huditra'' 'skin' above) and : * *putiq 'white' → Sakalava ''**foty'', Merina ''fotsy'' However, these last changes started in Borneo before the Malagasy arrived in Madagascar.


Writing system

The language has a written literature going back presumably to the 15th century. When the French established Fort-Dauphin in the 17th century, they found an Arabico-Malagasy script in use, known as
Sorabe Sorabe or Sora-be () is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that ca ...
("large writings"). This Arabic
Ajami script The term Ajami ( ar, عجمي, ) or Ajamiyya ( ar, عجمية, ), which comes from the Arabic root for ''foreign'' or ''stranger'', refers to an Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَ ...
was mainly used for astrological and magical texts. The oldest known manuscript in that script is a short Malagasy-Dutch vocabulary from the early 17th century, which was first published in 1908 by Gabriel Ferrand though the script must have been introduced into the southeast area of Madagascar in the 15th century. The first bilingual renderings of religious texts are those by
Étienne de Flacourt Étienne de Flacourt (1607–1660) was a French governor of Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously k ...
, who also published the first dictionary of the language.
Radama I Radama I "the Great" (1793–1828) was the first Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also *Madagascar (disambigua ...

Radama I
, the first literate representative of the Merina monarchy, though extensively versed in the Arabico-Malagasy tradition, opted in 1823 for a Latin system derived by David Jones and invited the Protestant
London Missionary Society The London Missionary Society was an interdenominational evangelical missionary society formed in England in 1795 at the instigation of Welsh Congregationalist minister Edward Williams. It was largely Reformed tradition, Reformed in outlook, with C ...
to establish schools and churches. The first book to be printed in Malagasy using
Latin characters Latin script, also known as Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (Writing system#General properties, script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the ...

Latin characters
was the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
, which was translated into Malagasy in 1835 by British Protestant
missionaries A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or provide services, such as education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), ...

missionaries
working in the highlands area of Madagascar. The current Malagasy 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.'' The
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
maps rather straightforwardly to the phonemic inventory. The letters ''i'' and ''y'' both represent the sound (''y'' is used word-finally, and ''i'' elsewhere), while ''o'' is pronounced . The affricates and are written ''tr'' and ''dr'', respectively, while and are written ''ts'' and ''j''. The letter ''h'' is often silent. All other letters have essentially their IPA values. The letters ''c, q, u, w'' and ''x'' are all not used in native Malagasy words. ''Mp'' and occasionally ''nt'' may begin a word, but they are pronounced . ''@'' is used informally as a short form for ''amin'ny'', which is a preposition followed by the definite form, meaning for instance ''with the''.


Diacritics

Diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s are not obligatory in standard Malagasy, except in the case where its absence leads to an ambiguity: ''tanàna'' ("city") must have the diacritic to discriminate itself from ''tanana'' ("hand"). They may however be used in the following ways: *◌̀ (
grave accent The grave accent ( ` ) ( or ) is a diacritical A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter (alphabet), letter or to a basic glyph. The term derives from th ...

grave accent
) shows the stressed syllable in a word. It is frequently used for disambiguation. For instance in ''tanàna'' (town) and ''tanana'' (hand), where the word that is an exception to the usual pronunciation rules (''tanàna'') gets an accent. Using the accent on the word that follows the pronunciation rules (''tànana'') is less common, mainly in dictionaries. (This is very similar to the usage of the grave accent in
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
.) *◌́ (
acute accent The acute accent, , is a diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembl ...

acute accent
) may be used in **very old dictionaries, along with grave accent **dialects such as Bara **French (''Tuléar'') and French-spelled (''Antsirabé'') names. Malagasy versions are ''Toliara'' or ''Toliary'' and ''Antsirabe''. *◌̂ (
circumflex The circumflex is a diacritic in the Latin script, Latin and Greek alphabet, Greek scripts that is used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and Transcription (linguistics), transcription schemes. It received its E ...
) is used as follows: **''ô'' shows that the letter is pronounced and not , in Malagasified foreign words (''hôpitaly'') and dialects (''Tôlan̈aro''). In standard Malagasy, ''ao'' or ''oa'' (as in ''mivoaka'') is used instead. **sometimes the single-letter words ''a'' and ''e'' are written ''â'' and ''ê'' but it does not change the pronunciation *◌̈ ( diaeresis) is used with ''n̈'' in dialects for a velar nasal . Examples are place names such as ''Tôlan̈aro'', ''Antsiran̈ana'', ''Iharan̈a'', ''Anantson̈o''. This can be seen in maps from FTM, the national institute of geodesy and cartography. *◌̃ (
tilde The tilde (
in the American Heritage dictionary
), or , is a

tilde
) is used in ''ñ'' sometimes, perhaps when the writer cannot produce an ''n̈'' (although ''ng'' is also used in such cases). In Ellis' Bara dialect dictionary, it is used for
velar nasal The voiced velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans ...

velar nasal
as well as
palatal nasal The voiced palatal nasal is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the fro ...

palatal nasal
.


Phonology


Vowels

After a stressed syllable, as at the end of most words and in the final two syllables of some, are reduced to . ( is spelled in such cases, though in monosyllabic words like ''ny'' and ''vy'', is pronounced as a full .) Final , and sometimes final syllables, are devoiced . and are never reduced or devoiced. The large number of reduced vowels, and their effect on neighbouring consonants, give Malagasy a phonological quality not unlike that of
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
. is marginal in Merina dialect, found in interjections and loan words, though it is also found in place names from other dialectical areas. are diphthongs in careful speech, or in more casual speech. , whichever way it is pronounced, affects following as does.


Consonants

The alveolars are slightly palatalized. vary between and , and are especially likely to be the latter when followed by unstressed : Thus French ''malgache'' 'Malagasy'. The velars are palatalized after (e.g. ''alika'' 'dog'). is frequently elided in casual speech. The reported postalveolar
trilled affricate Trilled affricates, also known as post-trilled consonants, are consonants which begin as a stop consonant, stop and have a trill consonant, trill release. These consonants are reported to exist in some Northern Paman languages in Australia, as well ...
s are sometimes simple stops, , but they often have a rhotic release, . It is not clear if they are actually trilled, or are simply non-
sibilant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. Th ...
affricates . However, in another Austronesian language with a claimed trilled affricate, Fijian, trilling occurs but is rare, and the primary distinguishing feature is that it is postalveolar. The Malagasy sounds are frequently transcribed , and that is the convention used in this article. In reduplication, compounding, possessive and verbal constructions, as well as after nasals, fricatives and liquids, 'spirants' become stops, as follows:


Stress

Here, stressed syllables are indicated by grave diacritics (''à''), although these diacritics are normally not used. Words are generally accented on the penultimate syllable, unless the word ends in ''ka'', ''tra'' and often ''na'', in which case they are stressed on the antepenultimate syllable.
Secondary stress Secondary stress (or obsolete: secondary accent) is the weaker of two degrees of stress in the pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (f ...
es exist in even-numbered syllables from the last stressed syllable, when the word has more than four syllables (''fàmantàranàndro'' "watch, clock"). Both affixation and prefixation do not affect stress placement. In many dialects, unstressed vowels (except ) are devoiced, and in some cases almost completely
elided In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are r ...
; thus '''' is pronounced .


Grammar


Word order

Malagasy has a
verb–object–subject In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. ...
(VOS)
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
: Within phrases, Malagasy order is typical of head-initial languages: Malagasy has prepositions rather than postpositions (''ho an'ny zaza'' "for the child"). Determiners precede the noun, while quantifiers, modifying adjective phrases, and relative clauses follow the noun (''ny boky'' "the book(s)", ''ny boky mena'' "the red book(s)", ''ny boky rehetra'' "all the books", ''ny boky novakin'ny mpianatra'' "the book(s) read by the student(s)"). Somewhat unusually, demonstrative determiners are repeated both before and after the noun ''ity boky ity'' "this book" (lit. "this book this").


Verbs

Verbs have syntactically three productive "voice" forms according to the thematic role they play in the sentence: the basic "agent focus" forms of the majority of Malagasy verbs, the derived "patient focus" forms used in "passive" constructions, and the derived "goal focus" forms used in constructions with focus on instrumentality. Thus *(1) ''Manasa ny tanako amin'ny savony aho''. ("I am washing my hands with soap.") *(2) ''Sasako amin'ny savony ny tanako''. ("My hands are washed with soap by me.") *(3) ''Anasako ny tanako ny savony''. ("It is with soap that my hands are washed by me.") all mean "I wash my hands with soap" though focus is determined in each case by the sentence initial verb form and the sentence final (noun) argument: ''manasa'' "wash" and ''aho'' "I" in (1), ''sasako'' "wash" and ''ny tanako'' "my hands" in (2), ''anasako'' "wash" and ''ny savony'' "soap" in (3). There is no equivalent to the English preposition ''with'' in (3). Verbs inflect for past, present, and future tense, where tense is marked by prefixes (e.g. ''mividy'' "buy", ''nividy'' "bought", ''hividy'' "will buy").


Nouns and pronouns

Malagasy has no grammatical gender, and nouns do not inflect for number. However, pronouns and demonstratives have distinct singular and plural forms (cf. ''io boky io'' "that book", ''ireto boky ireto'' "these books"). There is a complex series of demonstrative pronouns, depending on the speaker's familiarity and closeness to the referent. The following set of pronouns are the pronouns found in Standard Malagasy. Note: the nominative first person singular pronoun is divided between a long and short form; the long form occurs before a verb (focalized or topicalized subjects) and the short form after a verb. The genitive first and second person pronouns are also divided between long and short forms; the long form occurs if the root ends with anything but a*or [tra]; if the stem ends with the long form also occurs but [na] is deleted; and if the stem ends with a*or [tra], the final vowel of the root is deleted and the short form occurs.


Deixis

Malagasy has a complex system of deixis (these, those, here, there, etc.), with seven degrees of distance as well as evidentiality across all seven. The evidential dimension is prototypically visible vs. non-visible referents; however, the non-visible forms may be used for visible referents which are only vaguely identified or have unclear boundaries, whereas the visible forms are used for non-visible referents when these are topical to the conversation. Notes: * Diacritics in deixis are not mandatory in Malagasy. * Deixis marked by a * are rarely used.


Vocabulary

Malagasy shares much of its basic vocabulary with the
Ma'anyan language Ma'anyan or Ma'anjan or Maanyak Dayak is an Austronesian language belonging to the East Barito languages. It is spoken by about 150,000 Ma'anyan people (subgroup of Dayak people) living in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is clo ...
, a language from the region of the Barito River in southern
Borneo Borneo (; id, Kalimantan) is the third-List of islands by area, largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java Is ...

Borneo
. The Malagasy language also includes some borrowings from
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and Bantu languages (especially the Sabaki languages, Sabaki branch, from which most notably Swahili language, Swahili derives), and more recently from French and English. The following samples are of the Merina dialect or Standard Malagasy, which is spoken in the capital of Madagascar and in the central highlands or "plateau", home of the Merina people. It is generally understood throughout the island.


Lexicography

The first dictionary of the language is
Étienne de Flacourt Étienne de Flacourt (1607–1660) was a French governor of Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously k ...
's ''Dictionnaire de la langue de Madagascar'' published in 1658 though earlier glossaries written in Arabico-Malagasy script exist. A later ''Vocabulaire Anglais-Malagasy'' was published in 1729. An 892-page Malagasy–English dictionary was published by James Richardson of the
London Missionary Society The London Missionary Society was an interdenominational evangelical missionary society formed in England in 1795 at the instigation of Welsh Congregationalist minister Edward Williams. It was largely Reformed tradition, Reformed in outlook, with C ...
in 1885, available as a reprint; however, this dictionary includes archaic terminology and definitions. Whereas later works have been of lesser size, several have been updated to reflect the evolution and progress of the language, including a more modern, bilingual frequency dictionary based on a corpus of over 5 million Malagasy words.
Winterton, Matthew et al. (2011). Malagasy–English, English–Malagasy Dictionary / Diksionera Malagasy–Anglisy, Anglisy–Malagasy. Lulu Press.
*Winterton, M. et al.: Malagasy–English, English–Malagasy Dictionary / Diksionera Malagasy–Anglisy, Anglisy–Malagasy. Raleigh, North Carolina. USA: Lulu Press 2011, 548 p. *Richardson: A New Malagasy–English Dictionary. Farnborough, England: Gregg Press 1967, 892 p.  (Original edition, Antananarivo: The London Missionary Society, 1885). *Diksionera Malagasy–Englisy. Antananarivo: Trano Printy Loterana 1973, 103 p. *An Elementary English–Malagasy Dictionary. Antananarivo: Trano Printy Loterana 1969, 118 p. *English–Malagasy Phrase Book. Antananarivo: Editions Madprint 1973, 199 p. (Les Guides de Poche de Madagasikara.) *Paginton, K: English–Malagasy Vocabulary. Antananarivo: Trano Printy Loterana 1970, 192 p. *Bergenholtz, H. et al.: Rakibolana Malagasy–Alemana. Antananarivo: Leximal/Moers: aragon. 1991. *Bergenholtz, H. et al.: Rakibolana Alemana–Malagasy. Antananarivo: Tsipika/Moers: aragon. 1994. *Rakibolana Malagasy. Fianarantsoa: Régis RAJEMISOA – RAOLISON 1995, 1061 p.


See also

*Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo *Languages of Madagascar


References


Sources

*Biddulph, Joseph (1997). ''An Introduction to Malagasy''. Pontypridd, Cymru. . *Houlder, John Alden, ''Ohabolana, ou proverbes malgaches.'' Imprimerie Luthérienne, Tananarive 1960. * *Ricaut et al. (2009) "A new deep branch of eurasian mtDNA macrohaplogroup M reveals additional complexity regarding the settlement of Madagascar", ''BMC Genomics''.


External links


Malagasy-English, English–Malagasy bilingual frequency dictionaryLarge audio database of Malagasy words with recorded pronunciationSearchable Malagasy–French–English Dictionary/TranslatorMalagasy–English DictionaryMalagasy–French dictionaryMalagasy Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix

Malagasy Vocabulary List
(from the World Loanword Database)
La Bible Malgache en texte intégral
– the complete text of the 1865 Malagasy Bible
List of references on Malagasy language
(with links to online resources).
Paper on Malagasy clause structure
{{Authority control Malagasy language, Verb–object–subject languages Languages of Madagascar Languages of the Comoros