Malagasy Vezo
Number of speakers 11 million (L1)
24 million (L2)
55 million (total including Madagascar)
Spoken in Flag of Bayau Bayau (official, Bayau variant)

Madagascar (official, Malagasy variant)

Writing system * Latin alphabet (officially)

Bayau Malagasy is the variant of the Malagasy language spoken in the Bayau archipelago. It is mainly spoken by the Malagasy community arrived in the year 1880s. It is now daily used by more than 11 million people in Bayau, where it has an official status. The differences with Malagasy are minimal and both version are intelligible.

The divergences are still higher in the scientific vocabulary: while Madagascar Malagasy uses French or English loanwords, Bayau Malagasy uses a Malagasized version of Perso-arabic words and use them as native ones.

Differences between Bayau and Madagascar Malagasy

There are slight differences between Bayau and Madagascar Malagasy. The absence of cultural exchange between the two regions during the colonization of Madagascar has definitely marked the differences between the two variants.

For example, ‘absolution’ can be translated ‘famelan-keloka’ in Madagascar Malagasy while it is translated as ‘velaheloka’ in Bayau. Below are other examples of vocabulary divergence:

English Bayau Malagasy Madagascar Malagasy
absolution velaheloka famelan-keloka
telephone antsolavitra telefaonina
wire tadivỳ tariby, hosy
train (n.) kitara lamasinina
airplane vorovỳ fiaramanidina
oxygen voan-kidy oksizenina
hydrogen voan-drano hidirozenina
computer mpikajy solosaina, ordinatera
canal tatatra lakan-drano
slave levo andevo

Despite of divergences in vocabulary, Madagascar and Bayau Malagasy can be understool by all Malagasy language speakers. A Madagascar Malagasy speaker can easily understand a Bayau speaker when speaking Bayau variant due to the exposure of Malagasy people to Bayau culture. Intercomprehension is less possible when talking on matters which needs many scientific vocabulary, mainly due to the low exposure of Bayau speakers to Madagascar Malagasy scientific vocabulary.

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