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Io-yo-io or so-so

May 5, 2013

My favorite thing about traveling is the way that other languages can make me feel a place. The way the words vibrate against my tongue, the roof of my mouth, how they resonate within my body and the way the inflections and tones, paces and patterns of speech envelope me in the music of other humans cement the experience of being present in today no matter where or when today might be happening.

After a while, certain phrases jump out at me as being absolutely indispensable if I’m to speak like a local. Io-yo-io is my favorite utility phrase I’ve learned in Madagascar thus far. Roughly translated it means so-so, and can be applied to any situation, at any time, and is incredibly fun to say.


Couple it by waving your hand in a see-saw motion and you are about a third of the way to speaking Malagasy! (ok not really, but I sure would LOVE to think so!) One of my favorite things about this phrase is that it is impossible to misunderstand or misuse it. Example:

If someone asks me if I like rice (the national food of Madagascar) I’d reply “Io-yo-io” (which in this case would be more like “More or less” or “I like it, but definitely not as much as a Malagasy person” or “Yes, but it’s not my favorite” all of which would be correct, and succinctly communicated in 3 short syllables.

The beauty of language!

I’ll write another post soon, io-yo-io.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    May 13, 2013 23:29

    So maybe Old McDonald was orignally from Madagascar! E-i-e-i-o, and we got the thing all wrong! So great to hear fo your adventures – I love the rich detail you bring to your writings Kim,almost the next best thing to being there! Love you – Dad


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