A guide to the Maltese Language/Gwida tal-lingwa Maltija

Discrimination and ignorance in the European environment /Diskriminazzjoni u nuqqas ta’ gharfien fl-ambjent Ewropew 


Had you ever heard of this language? As a relatively rare and unknown language globally, it is strong and stable. With a staggering 97% of the country’s population speaking the language, they speak it as their mother tongue, in most cases they have a solid grasp and master the language to the full extent. Older generations especially, might have a better grasp on Maltese than any other language. In addition to this it is also the language of the youth in Malta and in most cases is widely used in everyday life. As well as being the functional language in Malta the Maltese diaspora have transported it outside of the country of origin and it is spoken as a functional domestic language, wherever around the world.  


Aside from Maltese retaining its vivacity and being fervent in its country of origin. It is the national and official language of Malta. However, English is also an official language. This does anything but hinder the strength and evolution of Maltese, instead it enriches the nation’s knowledge and has proved effective in producing a bilingual nation. From birth even before children start going to school English is embroiled into their spoken tongue as well as being the language that they hear. This kind of experience is derived from television shows, books, animations, music and all such things, that come from an English-language origin. 

Relevance in relation to other languages  

As a speaker of Maltese, throughout my studies I have often found that I could notice patterns and correlations to various other languages. Be it a single word, or an entire infrastructure of verbs. Such languages have included: Italian, English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Croatian. Maltese really represents a language that is rich in history and humble. With each encounter that it has had with other languages it has taken influence and tailored and evolved to fit and become part of the entire language.  

Discrimination and Ignorance  

The fact that I am writing an informative article about the language already indicates the public’s lack of knowledge towards it. This is often unavoidable and not without understanding. Many of my friends only know about the existence of the language because they know me and other Maltese students. This tends to happen as people seldom pay attention to more than the name of the country on a European map, let alone the location, or any other facts pertaining to it.  If it doesn’t affect them, they have no interest in regarding it. Despite the criticism, the positive outlook that I try to adopt, share and learn from, myself, is that it is so essential and enriching to learn about at least the languages and cultures of surrounding countries. One can have a more open and full vision of the rest of the world if they are already open to what is not so far from them. 

Furthermore, the point of discrimination may be less prevalent for the natives living in Malta however as a Maltese person outside of my national “safe-zone” it can be challenging to feel strong or self-represent with confidence. Sometimes people make assumptions that because we are smaller (as a country, population nationality etc.) that we cannot achieve as much or be equal to people of another origin. Another topic which is raised is the confusion that we are an extension or a mixture of some other country. It is not rare that people say “Maltese what is that? Basically Italian/English no?”  

Finally, I hope it has been concise and enjoyable to learn the most you could have about our unique language, just like yours!  

The vital statistics of this language: / Is-statistiċivitali ta’ din il-lingwa 

  • Originates from and is spoken by the people of Malta, an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the south of Italy/Sicily. A member of the EU since 2004 / Il-lingwa tiġi minn u hija mitkellma mill-poplu Malti, gżira fil-bahar Mediterran, in-nofsinhar mill-Italja  
  • A European language / -Lingwa Ewropea  
  • Uses the Latin alphabet, in its standard form, with an addition of a few letters (30) / -Tuża l-alfabet Latina, bi ftit ittri miżjudin  
  • Semitic, but it is not Arabic nor a dialect of Arabic / Semitika, imma mhijiex l-Arbi u lanqas hija djalett tal-Arbi  
  • The historical source of modern Maltese vocabulary is 52% Italian/Sicilan, 32% Siculo-Arabic, and 6% English, with some of the remainder being French. / Is-sors storiku tal-Malti modern huwa 52% Taljan/Sqalli, 32% Arbi-Sikulo, and 6% Ingliż, u l-kumplament huwa Franċiż.  
  • 520,000 people across the world speak Maltese, 371,900 of those are the Maltese people in Malta who speak Maltese / 520,000 nies madwar id-dinja jitkellmu bil-Malti, 371,900 minnhom huma Maltin li jgħixu Malta  
  • Maltese became an official language of Malta in 1934, replacing Italian and joining English / Il-Malti sar il-lingwa uffiċjali ta’ Malta fl-1934  

Now here are a few phrases you could impress with:  

  • Merħba, kif inti (pronounced: merhba keef intee) Hello how are you  
  • Il ġurnata vera sabiha, trid imorru mixja (pronounced: il jurnata vera sabeeha trid imorru mishya) It’s a beautiful day, would you like to go for a walk  
  • Il-ġurnata t-tajba (pronounced: il jurnata it tayba) Have a nice day  

Alessia G. / S7ENa / EEB1 Uccle 

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