When you visit Madagascar and listen to people speak in Madagascar Language, you might be taken aback. That’s because their language sounds similar to Indonesian. Madagascar residents speak two languages in their daily lives. First is French which you will encounter there.
This is because Madagascar is a colonial country of France. But their main language and what is referred to as de Facto language is Malagasy. 90% of the population of Madagascar is Malagasy and they speak the same language in everyday life.
Broadly speaking, the Malagasy language can be divided into two, namely West and East. While the dialect that is considered as the national language of Madagascar is the Merina dialect that originates from the Eastern region of the island of Madagascar.
Madagascar Language is a Family to Astronesia Language
A professor who researches this language reveals that the Malagasy Language (population of Madagascar), is the only language in the Austronesian family in Africa. They borrowed a lot of words from Sanskrit (a modification of the old Malay and Javanese languages) that were used during the Srivijaya era.
The Malagasy language itself is a language that refers to a dozen Indonesian languages that have similarities with each other. this language is Malayo-Polynesian macrolanguage which is used by the people of Madagascar.
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According to Astrologue, there are exactly 12 Malagasy language variants spoken in Madagascar. The variant of Madagascar language that has the most speakers is the Malagasy Plateau, with more than 10 million breakers. This dialect is spoken by people who live in the middle of the island and includes the Southeast dialect.
The dialect spoken by the least inhabitants is the Bushi dialect. This dialect is used by people who live in the northwest of Madagascar. This language is not found on the main island of Madagascar.
History of Malagasy Language and Its Legal Status
It is said, the first 30 women who landed on the island came from Indonesia. They arrived in the 9th century AD or more than 1,000 years ago, and hereditary formed a Malagasy colony.
Lots of evidence states that Madagascar is a country that was once visited by the people of Astronesia (Malay). Linguistic researchers also state that there is a similarity between the Madagascar language and the ancient Javanese or Sanskrit languages that were used by the Srivijaya people.
The Barito language is the origin of the Malagasy language, with many loan words from Javanese and Malay. Barito language itself is a term for 20 Dayak dialects that we can now meet in Borneo (Kalimantan).
As for its legal status, in the 2010 constitution, the Malagasy language is designated as the National language of Madagascar. This language is used as a daily language and language of instruction in basic education for all subjects.
Furthermore, for higher education, Madagascar uses French as an introduction, but still uses Malagasy as a special introduction to the history and language of Malagasy.
Knowing that the history of the nation of Madagascar is closely related to Malay is not surprising if they have a similarity of the lexicon with Malay and Indonesian. The Madagascar language is proof that Malays have sailed to countries in Africa for a thousand years.