Malagasy (Fiteny Malagasy)
Malagasy is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language
spoken by about 17 million in Madagascar, where it is the national and official language,
Comoros, Réunion and Mayotte. It is related to the Malayo-Polynesian languages of
Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and more closely to the South-east Barito group
of languages spoken in Borneo, particularly to Maanyan.
Malagasy contains words borrowed from Bantu languages, and Arabic, and also
from French, the former colonial language which still enjoys official status,
and English, thanks mainly to the 18th century pirates who made the island their
From the 15th century to 1823, Malagasy was written with the Arabic Ajami script or
Sorabe. Since then, it has been written with the Latin alphabet.
Malagasy alphabet and pronunciation
- a and o are often silent in
unstressed syllables, and a is also reduced to
[ə]. For example, Malagasy = [malgaʃ], hence
the French version of Malagasy is written Malgache.
- y = [i] at the ends of words
- The word stress falls on the last but one syllable, except in words
ending in -ka, -na or -tra, when the syllable before the last but one
Sample text in Malagasy
Teraka afaka sy mitovy zo sy fahamendrehana ny olombelona rehetra. Samy
manan-tsaina sy fieritreretana ka tokony hifampitondra ampirahalahiana.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Malagasy Language
Cours de Malgache (Online Malagasy lessons – in French)
Online Malagasy dictionaries
Dictionnaire Encyclopédique de Madagascar