Tuesday, May 15, 2012

As promised, Malagasy language guide!

May 15, 2012

I hope you enjoy, even if it is probably a little difficult to understand.  Also, for you future volunteers I hope this shows up in a google search.  Also piece of advice—Eurotalk makes software with 200 Malagasy words and phrases.  It isn’t great, but it will give you a jump.  You can buy it cheap on amazon.  Mazotoa sy bonne chance!

The vowels are all like Spanish and French ect. where the a is as in “tall,” e as is “hey,” i and y as in “holy” (holy wow this is hard coming up with English examples), and o as in “too.”  There is no “u,” so if you see it the word is borrowed from French, English, or Bantu (Swahili ect).  The accent falls on the capitalized letter.  I am very sorry if it doesn’t make sense as I have discovered I am lousy at this haha.

It is largely phonetic, but sometimes the syllables run together in everyday speech

They roll their “r’s,” same as Spanish

The subject falls at the end of a sentence (yeah, weird haha).

There is no “to be,” it is largely implied

There are no plurals or masculine/feminine (makes things easier haha)

Verbs are (generally) not conjugated like Spanish or French, so you must have the subject at the end.  They (almost) all start with m in the present, which changes to n in the past and h in the future.

If you have any questions or want a specific word, please let me know!

Useful Phrases

Manahoana (maana-OH-na)—hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening
Salama (sa-lA-ma)—hello, peace
Inona vaovao? (ee-noon voh-voh)—what’s new? A general greeting following manahoana
Tsy misy (tsee mEE-see)
                The response to the previous question.  Like in America, when you say “what’s up?”
                the answer is always “nothing.”
Iza no anaranao? (ee-zaa noo ah-nAH-ra-now)—what is your name?
…no anarako (noo ah-nAH-ra-koo)--…is my name
Veloma (ve-lOO-ma)—good-bye
Mandrapihoana (maan-drah-pee-O-na)—see you later
Azafady (aa-zaa-fAA-dee)—sorry/please.  Literally “let it not be a taboo (fady) to you”
Tsy maninona (tsee ma-neen)—the response, it’s not a fady
Mazotoa! (maaz-tOO-a)—enjoy! A very common phrase
Mandroso! (maan-drOO-soo)—come in!  Also very common, people like to invite you into their
                  homes, or to enjoy what they are enjoying
Eny (Eh-nee)—yes, although not used very much.  Usually a head nod or a shorter version of
        yeah that I have no idea how to write.
Tsia (tsEE-ah)—No, but my personal favorite is the much more common “aaan” which is really
        just an intonation, like “nuh uh.”  There’s really no way to type either of those
Ampy (AAm-pee)—Enough, plenty.  Useful if people keep trying to feed you haha
Misaotra (mee-sOH-tra)—Thank you
Tsy misy fisarorana (tsee mEE-see fee-sAOH-ra-na)—You’re welcome
(Tsy) Mety ((tsee) mEH-tee)—(not) ok.  You can pretty much add tsy to anything to negate it
Tsy azoko /mazava (tsee AHz-koo/ma-zAH-vah)—I don’t understand/not clear
Velona (vEY-loona)—bless you (when someone sneezes)
Aiza ny kabone? (AY-za nee kah-boo-nEH)—where is the latrine?
Amin’ny manaraka (AH-mee-nee ma-nAH-rah-ka)—next time.  Very useful phrase if you don’t want to buy something, if someone is begging, or inviting you somewhere you do not want to go


Be (bay)—big, a lot (uncountable)
Kely (kAy-lee)—little, small
Betsaka (bAIt-sa-ka)—a lot (countable), also when used with misaotra
Ratsy (rAH-tsee)—bad, particularly fun in a growling voice
Tsara (tsAH-rah)—good.  Very similar to my name, and this word is used A LOT.  So to avoid
           confusion during homestay, so I would know when they were talking to (or about) me, the
           emphasis got shifted to the second syllable in my name—sah-RAH
Faly (fAH-lee)—happy
Malahelo (ma-la-EH-loo)—sad
Voky (vOO-kee)—full
Noana (nOH-na)—hungry
Rereka (rAIR-ah-ka)—tired
Mangetaheta (ma-ng-eh-ta-EH-ta)—thirsty
Mahafinaritra (ma-fee-nAH-tra)—beautiful, used a lot to describe lots of different things
Lava (lA-va)—tall, Americans get this a lot, I am a giant in this country
Fohy (fOO-hee)—short
Mora (mOO-ra)—cheap, easy
Lafo (lA-foo)—expensive
Mafana (ma-fA-na)—hot, as in the weather
Mangatsika (ma-ng-aht-sEE-ka)—cold, which you will here a lot as they are always cold if it
                    isn’t boiling


Tsena (ts-EH-na)—market
Epicerie (eh-pIH-sih-ree)—store/shop.  French word.
Rano (rAH-noo)—water
Vary (vAH-ree)—rice, and a word you will hear a LOT
Sakafo (sah-kAH-foo)—food!
Ladosy (la-dOO-see)—shower
Kabone (ka-boo-nEH)—latrine (most people do not have bathrooms, but out houses)
Alika (ah-lEE-ka)—dog
Saka (sAH-ka)—cat
Omby (OOOOm-bee)—one of my favorite words, you don’t need that many o’s, but it is more
Akoho (a-kooh)—chicken, the h on the end is kind of just a ghost
Kisoa (kee-SOO-a)—pig
Gidro (gEE-droo)—LEMUR J
Biby (bEE-bee)—animal
Bibikely (bee-bee-kEH-lee)—insect/bug.  Literally “small animal”
Vola (vOO-la)—money
Trano (trAH-noo)—house


Mianatra (mee-AH-na-tra)—to study/learn.  Use this one a whole bunch haha
Marary (ma-rAH-ree)—to be sick…yeah this one too haha
Mipetraka (mee-pAY-tra-ka)—to sit/live
Mitsangatsangana (meet-sahn-ga-tsAHn-ga-na)—really fun to say and means to walk around or
                               stroll.  People like to state the obvious here so they tell me that I do this a lot.
Manana (mA-na-na)—to have.  Not pronounced in the same fashion as “banana,” so threw us
Misy (mEE-see)—to exist.  Sort of to be, you ask if there is something in the store or market
Mihinana (mee-hEE-na-na)—to eat
Misotro (mee-SOO-troo)—to drink
Mahay (ma-HI)—a great word, the English translation is not exact, something like to be
             knowledgeable, skilled, adept…
Mazoto (ma-zOO-too)—hardworking 

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