Both French and Malagasy are official languages in Madagascar.
The colorful Malagasy language is said to be a blend of Indonesian, African dialects and Arabic. When British missionaries brought the Roman alphabet to Madagascar, they also codified the local language.
The Malagasy alphabet is missing the letters C, Q, U, W, and X. The letter A is always short (as in watch). The letter E sounds like a long A (as in pace). The letter I is pronounced like a long E (as in bean). The letter J sounds like dz. Finally, the letter O sounds like oo.
Hello – Manahoana
Good morning – Manahoana tup-ku
What’s your name? – Iza no anaranao?
What’s new? – Inona ny vaovao?
It’s hot! – Mafana be!
It’s cold! – Mangatsika be!
Thank you – Misaotra tup-ku
Goodbye – Veloma
Visit the National Museum of African Art's online exhibit to hear how the phrases above are pronounced.
Get the beat of Malagasy music >>