The Info List - Sorabe Alphabet

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Sorabe, or Sora-be, is an alphabet based on Arabic
formerly used to transcribe the Malagasy language
Malagasy language
(belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian language family) and the Antemoro
Malagasy dialect in particular dating from the 15th century.[1] Researchers are still hypothesizing about the origins of this transcription system. "Sorabe" means literally "large writings" from Arabic
"sura" (writing) and Malagasy "be" (large). This denomination might point to the existence of a previous writing system with smaller characters of Sanskrit
origin used in South East Asia
South East Asia
as it is evidenced in some Malagasy words. Traditionally, a large number of researchers have speculated about the fact that this writing system was introduced through commercial contacts of Malagasy with Arab Muslims.[2] However, more studies claim that this writing scheme might have been possibly introduced by Javanese Muslims.[3][4] There are striking similarities between "Sorabe" and "Pegon" writings (the Javanese version of Arabic
script). A couple hundred old manuscripts have survived to this day though the oldest may have been written no earlier than the 17th century.[2] Those "Sorabe" are bound in leather and the texts are named after the colour of the skin. Most of the texts contain magical formulas but there are also some historical texts concerning the origin of some of the tribes of the south east of Madagascar. These origins are traced to Mecca
or the Prophet Mohammed
even though the practice of Islam
is nowhere seen in the texts.[citation needed] Sorabe eventually spread across the island beginning in the 17th century and, at the end of the 18th century, the Merina
king Andrianampoinimerina
called for Antemoro
scribes to teach the children of his court to read and write. This is how the future king Radama I could read and write Sorabe from his childhood. Nowadays Malagasy is written using a Latin alphabet, introduced in 1823.


1 Alphabet 2 Bibliography 3 See also 4 References 5 External links


Literal transcription of sora-be with the current Malagasy alphabet writing

ـَ ب د ـِ ف غ ه ـِ ج ك ل م ن ـُ ڡ ر س ط و ‹ي› ou ‹ز› ع ‹ڊ› ou ‹رّ› ‹̣ط› ou ‹رّ› ت ڡّ طّ ـَيْ ـَوْ ـُوً ـُيْ ‹ـِيَا› na ‹ـِيْا› ـِوْ ـِيْ

a b d e f g, ng h i, y j k l m n o p r s t v z n̈ dr tr ts mp nt ai ao oa oi ia, ea io, eo i.e.


(in English) Adelaar K.A. & Himmelmann N. (2004), The Austronesian Language of Asia and Madagascar, Routledge [1] . (in French) Ferrand, Gabriel (1905). Les migrations musulmanes et juives à Madagascar. Paris: Revue de l'histoire des religions. MR Kasanga Fernand (1990), Fifindra-monina, Librairie FLM, Antananarivo. (in French) Simon P. (2006) La langue des ancêtres. Ny Fitenin-drazana. Une périodisation du malgache des origines au XVe siècle, L'Harmattan [2].

See also[edit]

Madagascar Malagasy


^ Kasanga Fernand (1990) ^ a b Ferrand, Gabriel (1905) ^ Adelaar K.A. & Himmelmann N. (2004) ^ Simon P. (2006)

External links[edit]

La Case, les Sorabe, l'Histoire Arabic
in Madagascar, Kees Versteegh, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 2001 East Barito: Who Were the Malayo-Polynesian
Migrants to Madagascar?

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