A Concise Grammar of the Malagasy Language/Roots

ROOTS.

In any language the study of the roots of the words is important, but this is more especially the case with the Malagasy language, because the derivatives, though regular, are very varied. These roots are chiefly verbs (active and passive), nouns, and adjectives; but some of the pronouns, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections may also be considered as roots, as they have not yet been traced to simpler forms.

The two classes of Malagasy roots are as follows:—

Primary roots; consisting of one, two, or three syllables; with the accent on the first syllable. The few apparent exceptions to this rule about accentuation (as lalàna, from the French la loi; mizàna, from the Arabic mizân, &c.) are explainable by a foreign derivation, or by assuming that the syllable preceding that which is accented was originally a monosyllabic primary root: ex. lalaò (i.e. lao reduplicated, 'play, playthings').

Secondary roots; formed from primary roots by the addition of a class of special monosyllabic prefixes, which differ from all the prefixes and aflixes used in the formation of other words. These secondary roots are treated exactly like the primary roots in making verbs, &c. from them; and their accent is always on the second syllable.

Of these prefixes, kan-, san-, and tan- are treated like the active prefix man-; q.v. Besides these, we find an infixed syllable om inserted into a root of either kind immediately after the first consonant, apparently only the transposed form of a prefix mo (=ma); thus, tàny, tomàny.

Table of the chief varieties of these Prefixes.

prefix. primary root. secondary root.
A. An .. .. zàra .. .. anjàra.
B. Bo .. .. sèsika .. .. bosèsika.
D. Da .. .. bòboka .. .. dabòboka.
Do .. .. nèndrina .. .. donèndrina.
F. Fa .. .. rìtsoka .. .. farìtsoka.
Fo .. .. rèhitra .. .. forèhitra.
G. Go .. .. ròbaka .. .. goròbaka.
K. Ka .. .. ràzana .. .. karàzana.
Kan .. .. tòvo .. .. kantòvo.
Ki .. .. fàfa .. .. kifàfa.
Ko .. .. fèhy .. .. kofèhy.
L. Lah .. .. àsa .. .. lahàsa.
M. Mo .. .. kòko .. .. mokòko.
N. Ngo .. .. ròdana .. .. ngoròdana.
P. Po .. .. ròtsaka .. .. poròtsaka.
R. Re .. .. hètra .. .. rehètra (?).
Ro .. .. àhana .. .. roàhana.
S. Sa .. .. fìdy .. .. safìdy.
San .. .. làva .. .. sandàva (-ny).
T. Ta .. .. fòtsy .. .. tafòtsi (-ny).
Tan .. .. làpa .. .. tandàpa.
Ton .. .. hìlana .. .. tongìlana.
Tsi .. .. laìnga .. .. tsilaìnga.
Tsin .. .. gàla .. .. tsingàla.
V. Va .. .. hìhy .. .. vahìhy.
Z. Za .. .. tòvo .. .. zatòvo.

Reduplication of a root, whether primary or secondary, expresses the repetition, or the diminution, or the increased force, of the idea which the root in its single form expresses: hence, many roots may appear in a fourfold form. It is only the primary root which is thus doubled, for the prefixes and aflixes remain unaltered.

Some roots occur only in the reduplicate form; as, làolào (or lalào), 'play;' sàlasàla, 'doubtful.' With regard to roots which end in syllables other than -ka, -na, -tra, no contraction occurs, but the root is simply reduplicated, with sometimes an n inserted, especially when the root begins with a vowel.

Ex. Fòtsy, white; fòtsyfòtsy, whitish.
Tòro, crushed; tòrotòro, crushed into pieces.
Ampy, sufficient; manàmpinámpy, to keep on adding. With insertion of n.
Mandà, to deny; mandàndà, to deny repeatedly.
Zòky, elder; zòkinjòky, still older.

Dissyllabic roots ending in -ka, -na, or -tra, may be either simply repeated or contracted; thus, in mitànatàna, 'to be open' (as the mouth), the root is repeated, while in mitàntàna, 'to hold,' the root is contracted.

Trisyllabie roots ending in -ka, -na, or -tra, accented on the antepenult, are contracted according to the rules for forming euphonic changes.

N.B.—As trisyllabic roots seem all to end in -ka, -na, or -tra, it is probable that these terminations are only affixes to primary roots of one or two syllables, as the following facts seem to show:—

(1) They are sometimes disused, especially in dialects other than the Hova; as, irày and iraìka, and ìsa and ìsaka, for 'one.'

(2) They are interchangeable in certain words; as, pòtsika and pòtsitra.

(3) Dissyllabic roots, used in a sense allied to that of the longer forms, are not rare. Thus, dissyllabic root rìa; trisyllabic words, marìa, rìaka, rìana; tetrasyllabic words, tsorìaka, korìana.

Rule.—In reduplicating a word, remember (1) that the prefix is never altered; (2) that the primary root alone is reduplicated; and (2) that when the accent advances one syllable, owing to the addition of an affix, the first part of the word (i.e. prefix and primary root) is never altered, all changes occurring in the last part of the word. Thus:—

Primary root
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
dìo, fòtotra.
Ditto, with prefix
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
madìo, afòtotra.
Do., with prefix reduplicated,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
madìodìo, afòtopòtotra.
Do., with prefix reduplicated, with accent shifted
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
madìodìovy, afòtopotòrana.

Contracted adjectives and some verbs with active prefixes keep the m or n of the present or past tenses, when reduplicated, either instead of, or in addition to, the first letter of the root. Thus:—

Màrina, adj. root àrina, becomes màrimàrina.
Manao, verb ... tao, ... manàonào.

Or an n is inserted, especially when the root to be reduplicated begins with a vowel.

Thus:—Manèso, root èso, becomes manèsonèso.

Derivatives in Malagasy, which are very numerous, are formed regularly from any kind of root (single, reduplicated, primary, or secondary) by appending to the root (1) a prefix, or (2) an affix, or (3) both prefix and affix. Thus:—

root
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
zàra.
root with prefix
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
mizàra.
root with affix
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
zaràina.
root with both
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ìzaràna.

Sometimes it is difficult to find out the root, owing (1), to the loss of its first consonant; or (2), to a change in its vowel; or (3), to a change in the consonant of its final syllable.

Brief Rules for Accentuation.

I. Roots, both primary and secondary, seem always to have the accent on the first syllable of the primary root, whether the root be two-syllabic or three-syllabic.

N.B.—A secondary root may be regarded as a primary root plus a monosyllabic prefix, which does not alter the place of the accent.

Reduplicated roots.—As only the primary root (and not a prefix) is reduplicated, the above rule still holds good in these cases, whether there be, or be not, any contraction of the reduplicated word.

N.B.—Only tri-syllabic roots ending in -ka, -na, or -tra, are contracted when reduplicated, although they may sometimes be reduplicated without contraction. No change of letters in the reduplicated word alters the place of the accent.

II. Derivatives.—No prefix alters the place of an accent; but affixes always cause the accent to advance one syllable nearer to the end of the word (generally bringing the accent on to the antepenult).

N.B.—A few roots (chiefly monosyllabic) do not allow the accent to shift at all; and in a few cases the accent (apparently contrary to the above rule) goes off the root on to the first syllable of the affix (as in the word ànka-toàvina, from root to).

But even in these cases the accent still rests on the antepenult, in accordance with the apparently invariable rule for all pure Malagasy words, that the accent must never be further from the end of a word than the antepenult.