Maltese language

Spoken in

  • Afro-Asiatic languages Semitic languages Maltese




Maltese (proper name: Malti ) is the language of Malta. It was formed originally from an Arabic dialect ( Maghreb ) and is one of the Semitic languages. The Maltese is on the one hand, the only indigenous Semitic language in Europe, and on the other hand also the only Semitic language world that uses Latin characters.


Maltese originated from the Maghrebi Arabic and has evolved into an independent language with special features in syntax and phonology that make it stand out from the Arabic. Nevertheless, the basic structure of the Maltese, in particular the form of education, Semitic. The vocabulary has been influenced from the early modern period from the Italian (especially the Sicilian ), but also by English. There are also Aramaic and Phoenician -Punic and other vorarabische roots. Examples are the names of the two main islands "Malta" and " Gozo ".

After the conquest and repopulation of Malta by the Arabs from 870 developed in Malta from the Arabic original local vernacular. Was it initially to an Arabic dialect, then the Maltese replaced by the Christianization of the population and its connection to the Catholic- European cultural area gradually from the sphere of influence of the Arab high-level language. This was followed by European languages. With the takeover of power by the Catholic Order of Saint John in 1530 Italian became dominant. 1814 Malta was a British colony and therefore English is the official language. Italian also kept next to important functions, such as a court language, and remained the language of the local upper class. Nonetheless, Maltese is generally the native language and everyday language of the Maltese population. 1924 binding spelling rules have been adopted. 1934 Maltese official language alongside English, the language of instruction (next to the Maltese ) plays today, especially in the higher education and higher education an important role, as in long-distance trade and technical careers. The Italian language lost its status as the official language of Malta in 1934, but is still dominated by many Maltese.

Since 1 May 2004 Maltese is one of the official languages ​​in the EU. Many of the approximately 1.5 million people maltesischstämmigen outside Malta Maltese of their ancestral home also serves as a remote identification symbol.

Alphabet and Pronunciation

As the only Semitic language Maltese is written in the Latin alphabet, but has the special characters C / C, w / w, h / H and Ż / ż and the digraph gh / gh, which is also treated as a separate letter. In Lehnworten the letters à, è, ì, ò ù and are used in final position. The letters c and y are missing.

The debate is observed ( IPA phonetic transcription ): ċ: [ tʃ ] as ch in German e: [ ɛ ], as a in apples ġ: [ dʒ ], as dsch in jungle GH: originally referred to a pharyngeal consonants ( from Arab ع غ and emerged. ); Today, it is silent on most speakers and only manifests itself in a lengthening of the preceding vowel or following h: mute ħ: [ ħ ], very clearly spoken h, no equivalent in German ( as Arab ح. ) o: [ ɔ ] as o in place q: [ ʔ ], very clear voice paragraph (such as ver'eisen instead of travel ) r: [r ], rolled r, for some speakers also retroflex and the English r related parties s: [s ], always voiceless, as in grass v: [v ], as Engl. v, such as vanilla w: [w ] as Engl. w, for example in water x: [ ʃ ], as beautiful in beautiful z: [ ts ], as z in tongue ż [ z], as voiced s in Rose

Aw: [ aʊ ] as au in house ew: [ ɛʊ ], such as a separately spoken briefly eu or ä -u, no equivalent in German (roughly equivalent to a short e as in "bright", to which a short u as in " Kiss" follows, not a diphthong ) ie: [ iɛ, i ː ], to speak separately as i -a; sometimes just a long i, with a slight inclination to the e


Examples of words of Arabic origin:

  • Belt ( " City, Town " ) < بلد balad
  • Hobz ( "bread" ) < خبز ḫubz
  • Id ( "hand" ) < يد yad
  • Kelma ( " vocabulary, word" ) < كلمة kalima
  • Kbir ( " great") < كبير Kabīr
  • Marid ( "sick" ) < مريض Marid
  • Marsa ( " port " ) marsan < مرسى ( "Anchorage " )
  • Qamar ( "moon " ) < قمر qamar
  • Ragel ( " man " ) < رجل raǧul
  • Saba ' ( "fingers" ) < إصبع ʾ ʿ ISBA
  • Sema ( "heaven" ) < سماء sama ʾ '
  • Tajjeb ( "good") < طيب Tayyib
  • Tifla ( "girls" ) < طفلة ṭifla ( " little girl " )
  • Tqil ( " hard " ) < ثقيل ṯaqīl
  • Wieħed ( "one" ) < واحد Wahid
  • Xahar ( "Month" ) < شهر Sahr

Examples of words of Italian origin:

  • Avukat (Lawyer) < avvocato, Sizil. abbucatu
  • Frotta ( "fruit" ) < frutto
  • Gravi ( "important, significant" ) < grave, Sizil. gravi
  • Griz ( "gray" ) < grigio
  • Krizi ( "crisis" ) < crisi
  • Lvant ( " East" ) < levante
  • Natura ( "nature" ) < natura
  • Parti ( " share, portion") < parte, Sizil. parti
  • Skola ( "school" ) < scuola, Sizil. scola

See also:

  • L- Innu Malti - Maltese Anthem


The most striking feature of the Maltese in contrast to the Indo-European languages ​​is the principle of Trilitteru and Kwadrilitteru, which states that words from the same semantic field identical word roots (radicals ), which each consist of three or four consonants. The difference between the words of a word field is done by the questions between the root consonants vowels as well as morphemes, which are the root preceded or followed ( prefixes and suffixes ). This principle is typical of the Semitic language family. For example, from the root k -t -b ( basic meaning: write ) derived words: ktibt " I wrote ," kiteb " he wrote ," kitbet " she wrote ," miktub "written" ( past participle ), kittieb " writer " kitba "document", ktieb " book", kotba "books" ktejjeb " booklet".

This particular principle of word formation and inflection is also applied to the numerous Roman and English loanwords. See, for example nitkellem / titkellem / jitkellem / titkellem (I speak / are you talking about he / she speaks / she speaks ) from the Semitic root k- l -m ( basic meaning: to talk, word) with the borrowed from English to book: I reserve / reservierst you / he reserved / she is called reserved nibbukkja / tibbukkja / jibbukkja / tibbukkja. The recognizable in the two series of words prefixes ni / ti / ji / ti are the morphemes consistently occurring in the Semitic languages ​​, the verb in Imperfektstamm (not completed = action, present / future) of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd person ( I / you / he / she ) assign. In all Semitic languages ​​are loanwords, especially verbs, treated according to this principle.