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  • the national language of Malta.

  • derived from and most closely related to Arabic - in particular, the North African dialect - but in the course of its history it has adopted many loans and even phonetic and phonological features from (Southern) Italian (particularly Sicilian) and English.

  • Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet.

  • Maltese became an official language of Malta in 1936, alongside English. Before that year, the official language of Malta was Italian.

  • Although influenced by Romance, Maltese grammar is still strongly semitic. Adjectives follow nouns, there are no separately formed native adverbs, and word order is fairly flexible. As in Arabic and Hebrew, both nouns and adjectives (those of Semitic origin) take the definite article (e.g. L-Art l-Imqaddsa, lit. "The Land the Holy = The Holy Land"; cf. Arabic Al-Ardh al-Muqaddasa). This rule does not apply to nouns and adjectives of Romance origin.

  • Nouns are pluralized and also have a dual marker (unique among modern European languages, with the exception of Slovene and Sorbian). Verbs still show a triliteral Semitic pattern, in which a verb is conjuaged with prefixes, suffixes, and infixes (e.g. ktibna, Arabic katabna, Hebrew katavnu "we wrote"). There are two tenses: present and perfect.

  • What is unique about the Maltese verb system is that it incorporates Romance verbs and adds Arabic suffixes and prefixes to them (e.g. iddeċidejna "we decided" < (i)ddeċieda 'Romance verb' + -ejna 'Arabic 1st person plural perfect marker'). Arabic and Hebrew only rarely do this.

  • Maltese grammar generally shows two patterns: a Semitic pattern and a Romance pattern. It is like two grammars in one.

  • Maltese vocabulary is a hybrid of Arabic Semitic roots and Sicilian Italian (rather than Tuscan Italian) words. In this respect it is similar to English (Germanic-Romance mix) and Persian (Arabic/Indo-Iranian mix).
  • It is estimated that 50% of the vocabulary is Semitic, the rest being Romance.

  • English loan words are commonplace, including strajk strike, daljali dial, along with union (as in trade union), leave and bonus, which are not transliterated.

Online Dictionaries
Online Newspapers
Online TV & Radio Stations
Other resources
  • The Evolution of the Maltese Language - A brief historical sketch by Joseph Felice Pace.
  • Maltese Spell Checker for Linux - Free (LGPL) spell checker for the Maltese language. The site includes a downloadable version for Linux (aspell/ispell), as well as a web-based version for Windows or other operating systems, and a Maltese+English hybrid for bilingual documents.
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