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Maltese: The only Semitic language in Europe

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10 facts about the Maltese language

01

Maltese is significantly similar to the Phoenician language, which was once spoken in the ancient Mediterranean region.

02

The Maltese language is usually written in the Latin alphabet, like the English language.

03

The Maltese language has borrowed multiple words from Sicilian, Italian and English.

04

Maltese has a bit of French influence which is evident in words such as qasim (chemise shirt) and ingravatta (cravat tie).

05

Approximately half a million people speak the Maltese language around the world.

06

After Malta joined the European Union, Maltese became an official language of the European Union.

07

Maltese is a co-official language of Malta, along with English.

08

The Maltese language is not only known as “Maltese,” but it is also called the Malti language.

09

Maltese is part of an Afro-Asiatic language family containing multiple other languages.

10

In Maltese, the article il- becomes l- before or after a vowel in, for example, il-missier (the father) and l-omm (the mother).

Maltese

Origin of the language

Maltese originated in the Emirate of Sicily. 

Maltese

History of the language

It is thought that Maltese originated in 750 B.C.

Maltese

Learning the language

It takes about 50 hours to learn Maltese as an English speaker.

Maltese language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Maltese:

Happy: kuntenti
Hello: Bongu
Thank you: Grazzi
Care: kura
Flower: fjura
Pretty: pjuttost
Girl: tifla
Father: missier
Mother: omm
Boy: tifel

Quotes

Poetry should only aim to reach the heart of the heart of man, and even if it arrives at just once, then poetry would have reached its climax.

Rużar Briffa

Poet and dermatologist

And they bypass the poet’s silent burial place without ever looking.

Dun Karm Psaila

Poet

It’s a visual world, and people respond to visuals.

Joe Sacco

Cartoonist and journalist

Fun facts about the Maltese language

Contains Arabic influence

Arabic has had a great impact on the Maltese language in terms of food, music, and culture.

Increased number of letters

The Maltese language has 30 letters which are more than the 26 alphabet letters of English language.

Six popular dialects

The Maltese language has 6 popular dialects: Gozo, Port, Maltese, East Maltese, Zurrieq and West Maltese.

Oldest known document

The oldest known document in Maltese is Il Cantilena, a poem from the 15th century.

Official language of Malta

Maltese is the national and, with English, the co-official language of Malta. Until 1934, Italian had long been the official language.

Unique letters

Maltese has 6 unique letters, and each is pronounced differently. These are Ċ, Ġ, GĦ, Ħ, IE, and Ż.

Second oldest document

The second oldest Maltese document is a poem written in the 17th century, titled Mejju gie bil-Ward u Zahar which is generally known as “May is Here.”

Presence of two patterns

Some aspects of Maltese grammar exhibit two patterns: a Semitic and a Romance pattern in the language.

Ancestor of Maltese language

Siculo-Arabic is known as the ancestor of the Maltese or Malti language and has contributed to the vocabulary.

Primarily a spoken language

For many years, the Maltese language was a language spoken but unwritten; during this time, no grammatical rules were followed.

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