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Friday, 21st February 2020

Malagasy, the mother language

By Lima Andrimanomesoa

A mother language is the language we're taught from birth and for me, that language is Malagasy, although some people like myself would just say “Gasy” instead. For this occasion, as today is International Mother Languages Day, I would love to tell you a few things and funny facts about Malagasy. It’s a peculiar language that you will find pretty interesting throughout the reading of this blog. But first things first, my name is Lima and I’m from Tôlagnaro, a beautiful small town down south Madagascar.

Now then, in Madagascar you will find 18 different tribes and each one of them has its own dialect. In my case, I speak “Antanôsy”. And Malagasy is all of these 18 dialects, if not more, together. That fact makes it difficult for “Vazaha” to learn to speak it fluently. Even for us, it’s pretty hard to smoothly communicate with someone who speaks another dialect. Myself I am the living proof of that as I had some troubles to communicate very well with the locals and people from other regions when I was in Antananarivo, the capital, for a 2 week trip back in the beginning of 2017. In case you are wondering, by “Vazaha” we mean anyone who is just not “Gasy”.

Andrianiko ny teniko, ny an’ny hafa koa feheziko

Malagasy saying

Another funny fact I want to tell you as well is that when Malagasy is spoken, the verb comes first in the sentence and often the subject is put at the end. This is not usual for someone who is used to speaking languages such as English, French etc. and they might find that weird. Also, a thing that some “Vazaha” I work with love about Malagasy is that it only has 3 tenses, which makes their learning of Malagasy easier they say.

But that’s enough with Malagasy; I guess we all value and love our own Mother Language but it’s always better to speak at least one foreign language as that can turn out to be fun, adventurous and might even help you out moving forward in your career. This saying from a well-known writer in Madagascar illustrates that, “Andrianiko ny teniko, ny an’ny hafa koa feheziko” which means “I value my Mother Language, and I master the others“. You’ll also discover new cultures and plenty of other things with languages in your bag.