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The language in Madagascar
Since Madagascar is home to so many different and sometimes widely dispersed tribes with different roots, cultures and social structures, most people will be surprised to learn that people are united by a common language. It is Malagasy, which is Madagascar’s first official language along with French. Malagasy is an Austronesian language whose closest linguistic relative is the island of Borneo. Thus, Malagasy can be classified as a very unusual language, as Borneo is about 7,000 kilometres from Madagascar. On the other hand, the language of Madagascar provides information on the colonization of the island. Settlers from Southeast Asia probably arrived on the island of Madagascar between the fifth and eighth centuries AD. Merina is mainly credited with the spread of the Malagasy language today. Malagasy is therefore a common cultural asset that unites all the tribes and ethnic groups of Madagascar. Nevertheless, no one should assume that the language sounds the same everywhere on the island. In fact, there are countless dialects that sometimes make communication difficult, even for people who understand Malagasy. The language is characterized by different loan words from the Arabic region, Bantu languages from the African continent as well as French and English loan words. Above all, the influence of the former French colonial power is now felt in many parts of Madagascar at the linguistic level. There are only 21 letters in the alphabet, no distinction between defined and undefined articles and no gender. Moreover, the plural in Malagasy is not coded, but always results from the context. Madagascar is an agglutinating language in which infinitely long word structures are created, since different grammatical categories can be added to a verb, for example. In this context, the fact that the written language is clearly different from the Malagasy spoken language is complicated, as especially unaccented vowels are often omitted. In addition to Malagasy and French, English in Madagascar is also becoming increasingly popular. In fact, in recent years, many efforts have been made to teach English to children in school. This should not only bring considerable success in the tourism sector, but also be useful in the general economic field. In fact, many indigenous tribes in particular do not even speak French, but only their Malagasy language. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult for tourists to find an interpreter or guide for national parks with whom they can communicate. For your trip to Madagascar, you should therefore rely on our full service. We work exclusively with local guides who speak at least English and can therefore offer you maximum comfort in terms of linguistic understanding. So if you are planning your honeymoon in Madagascar or if you just want to spend an exceptional holiday in Madagascar, don’t hesitate to contact us.