Malagasy: Drinking Problems

When writing a dialogue or narrative, it is often helpful to create something that is memorable because it is sensational or humorous. With this in mind, let’s look at a story about things going wrong from drinking alcohol. Madagascar has very, very cheap alcoholic drinks – including many rums and toaka gasy (Malagasy moonshine – sometimes called “the rum that resurrects the dead”, because it has such a strong kick), so many tourists have stories about over-imbibing.

For Part 1 of this lesson, let’s review some vocabulary in advance:

omaly yesterday
mandeha to go to
mangataka to ask for
labiera beer
divay wine
leo bored
ratsy bad
masiaka mean/spicy
mahery strong

Before we dive into this dialogue, imagine how these words might be used in a story about alcohol.

Part 1: Yesterday

Omaly, nandeha tany amin’ny Hotely du Louvre aho ary nangataka zava-pisotro vao vao amiko. Yesterday, I went to the Hotel du Louvre and asked for a new drink. hay vao – novel/new
vao vao amiko – entirely new to me
Tsy te hisotro labiera na divay satria leo, ka nanafatra zava-pisotro meksikanina antsoina hoe tequila. I did not want to drink beer or wine because I was bored, so I ordered a Mexican drink called tequila. labiera – beer
divay – wine
leo – bored
Tena ratsy sy masiaka ny tequila! Tequila is very mean! ratsy – bad
masiaka – spicy/mean
Tena mahery be koa izy. It is also very strong. mahery – strong
koa – also
izy – he/she/it

How much of the story were you able to follow? Remember, verbs that start with “n” are in past tense. Verbs that start with “h” are in future tense, which includes expressing many wants.

Part 2: Today

The story continues:

Androany, nifoha tamin’ny arabe aho. Today, I woke up in the street. mifoha – to wake up
androany – today (past tense)
Tsy nanana akanjo na vola na lakile aho. I did not have any clothes or money or keys. manana – to have
 – clothes
lakile – key(s)
Tsy hanadinoiko ny fisotroana tequila. I will not forget drinking tequila. manadino – to forget
misotro – to drink
Tsy leo intsony aho. I am not bored anymore. intsony – no more / anymore
Tsy te hisotro tequila intsony mihintsy aho. I do not want to drink tequila ever again.

Of course, there are consequences to drinking too much. Do you think this is the end of the story?

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which events described took place in the past?
  • What things are described using future tense?
  • What things are described in present tense?

Part 3: Later Today

Androany, niverina tany amin’ny bar izay nisotroako tequila aho. Today, I went back to the bar where I drank tequila. androany – today
miverina – to return
misotro – to drink
Nanantena aho fa nanadino ahy izy ireo.  I hoped they had forgotten me. manantena – to hope
Tsy nanandino ahy izy ireo. They had not forgotten me. manandino – to forget
Nilaza tamiko ilay mpandroso sakafo fa nihira sy nandihy ratsy aho. The waiter told me that I had sang and danced badly. mandroso – to present
mpandroso – person who presents
mpandroso sakafo – person who presents food
mihira – to sing
mandihy – to dance
ratsy – badly
Nilaza ny mpamily taxi fa mila mandoa vola roa alina ariary aho. A taxi driver said I needed to pay him 20,000 Ariary. mamily – to steer/guide/drive
mpamily – conductor/driver
mpamily taxi – taxi driver
alina – 10,000
roa alina
 – 20,000
Ary koa, nisy vehivavy mahafatifaty nanontany ahy ny antony tsy niantsoako azy. Also, a cute girl asked me why I had not called her. ary koa – and also
vehivavy – girl/woman
mahafatifaty – cute
Tsy hiverina itsony aho. I will not ever go back.

Remember, you can turn many verbs starting with ma- into a noun form by changing the prefix to mpa-. Thus, mamily changes from “to drive” (among other meanings) to mpamily (driver). To clarify what type of driver, add a noun at the end, e.g,

  • mpamily taxi (taxi driver)
  • mpamily taxi be (bus driver)
  • mpamily moto (motorcycle driver)
  • mpamily auto (car driver)
  • mpamily fiarakodia (car driver)


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.