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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Intercomprehension and mutual intelligibility among Southern Malagasy languages
Author:Bouwer, LeoniISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:official languages
Malagasy language
Abstract:It is traditionally believed that one language is spoken by all the people of Madagascar. This belief implies that the standardized form of the Merina variety of Malagasy, also referred to as Official Malagasy, is an adequate medium of communication for all of Madagascar in educational, health, cultural, domestic, economic, political and religious domains. It further implies that no learning is required for Southern Malagasy speakers, including Bara speakers, to understand communications in Official Malagasy and that all Malagasy people naturally and effortlessly understand Official Malagasy. This article discusses empirical research that challenges this belief by exploring the problem of comprehension and intelligibility in the context of southern Madagascar, with special emphasis on the Bara. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were implemented for the investigation. The study argues that significant linguistic diversity exists in southern Madagascar and that Southern Malagasy speakers are not adequately served by the official language due to language variation, ethnolinguistic vitality, insufficient intelligibility, poor proficiency in Official Malagasy, and language attitudes. If all regions of Madagascar are to have equal opportunity for educational and economic development, regional speech forms need to be taken into consideration at the local level. Bibliogr., note, sum. [Journal abstract]