Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Crash Course in Malgasy


Today I had a crash course in Malgasy from Tata. I'm not sure how it started, except that all of a sudden 'we' (I) were all learning words like 'maturi,' which means 'sleeping' (naturi is slept and haturi is will sleep), 'ariva' (night), ranu (water), rer-ka (tired), zau (I, me), anau (you, singular), izi (he, she, it), isika (us, we), anareo (you, plural), izireo (they), muramura (slowly), lua (head), shurk (shoulders), tunj (knees), tunjra (feet), rasatunjra (toes!), tan-na (hand), fa (because), rasatan-na (fingers), vulu (hair), mash (eyes), ulna (nose), vava (mouth), nifi (teeth), mipechaka (sitting, also nipechaka, hipechaka), malama (slippery), malaklak (quickly), mafana (hot), keli (small, little), be (big, large, very), teri (narrow), shi (and), shufna (ears), vita (finished), lal-na (why), lalana (law), avia (left), avana (right), umal (yesterday), rapis (tomorrow), tsingy (tiptoe), madeha (going, also nadeha, hadeha), eka (yes), a'a (like uh-uh, but more fluid— it means no).

(Sorry for the enormous list of 43 words… I need to write them down somewhere to make sure I don't forget them).

There was also 'cold,' 'today,' 'black,' 'white,' and 'dark,' and a few lemur species, but I think that 43 words is quite enough to remember… from memory. I learned all these a few hours ago— at least 7 for most of them, more like 10-12 for all of them. And while I did practice almost the entire time we were walking, I didn't have time to write anything down, so most of the spellings are probably wrong— I just have them written down this way to remind myself of the pronunciations— lal-na, for instance, has a '-' to show that that syllable is very understated.

Malgasy is a very easy language compared to… most other languages. There are only three tenses— present, past, and future, and they're always conjugated the same way— with a m, n, or h (mi, ni, or hi if it's before a consonant, like in pechaka). To say 'I'm tired,' you'd say, rer-kau. (The -au comes from zau, which means 'I'). To ask if someone is tired, you'd say rer-kanau? (-Anau being from 'you').

You try! 'I'm hot,' 'They will sit.'

I tried this too… 'Rer-kanau fa malama be.'

Simple, yes? I'm definitely going to use this somewhere in a book I write— possibly with a few changes because I don't know everything exactly yet. Still, I'm finding out that learning languages you can't ever use outside of a specific country is a fascinating endeavor (Indonesian or Malaysian, for example! And definitely Malgasy!), and that it's much funner learning random words than it is trying to converse in… French, for example. Though I did get practice in that too— we spoke in 4 languages today— English, French, Malgasy, and Romanian. (I even sang the 'head, shoulders, knees, and toes!' song in all four languages, which was… hilarious, as I forgot the words for 'shoulders' in Romanian)

Today, was, epic. The Tsingy were great too!

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