Sunday, May 12, 2013

Maltese is a Semitic language.

I have been watching Maltese language teaching videos etc. on YouTube.

Most of the comments are arguments, in style "This is just shitty Arabic, Maltese in no f-ing language, it's Arabic dialect!" and "Maltese people are lying, claiming they have their own identity and language. They are ashamed of being Arabs, and want to be Europeans." and then we have the Maltese people trying to tell these idiots that they are wrong, and Maltese indeed is a language, not just some Arabic dialect, and Maltese people are their own people with their own culture.

Yeah... One hears the numbers and some greetings, like "good night!" ("Il-lejl it-tajjeb") and because one speaks Arabic and understand every word, one must be hearing Arabic.
Because you believe you are hearing Arabic, you also believe that the people whose language it is, must be Arabs, and they must also be Muslims. And if these people deny any of these claims, they are lying, deceiving themselves and everyone else...



1) According to genetic research, most Maltese people are of Sicilian (South Italian) or Phoenician (Canaanite, Lebanese) origin.

We do know, however, that the first inscriptions in Malta were in Punic and that they cover a long period, from the 6th to the 2nd century B.C. Bilingualism was already practiced in Malta when the Phoenicians settled here side by side with the last Bronze Age community which was later absorbed culturally and linguistically.

Apparently, it was Jean Quintin who in 1536 launched the myth that Maltese was a survivor of the ancient, lost, Punic language after observing Punic inscriptions in Malta... ...The connection with a great ancient civilization pleased the locals who could now claim both uniqueness and prestige... ...but in actual fact it was built on vague impressions for Punic script was not deciphered before 1758 and no serious comparative studies were ever made.
Languages in Malta and the Maltese Language
Education et Sociétés Plurilingues n°20-juin 2006
I do like the myth. Not because I see Arabic as somehow lesser language, but the idea of that Phoenician, Punic, would have been saved in some form, pleases me very much.

3) Malta lies between Italy (Sicilia) and Tunis, and has received influence from both directions, though more from Italy. (For a very long time all broadcasting on the island was Italian.)
The reason of this is not that the Maltese would rather be European than Arabs, but because they are Roman Catholic Christians, as the Italians are. Tunis is mainly Muslim.

4) The rulers of Malta - all influencing the language

~700 bce. Phoenicians
~400 bce. Carthagians (who spoke Punic, a variety of Phoenician)
218 bce. Romans
440 ce Vandals
533 Byzantines
870 Fatimids (from Tunis)
"The most mystifying linguistic aspect of the Maltese language is that there is no perceivable substratum (the old language’s influence on the newly acquired one) – neither Punic, nor Roman nor Greek... ...Al-Himyari... ...describes a violent attack in 870 which left the island in ruins and, after a period of relative neglect, a fresh settlement in 1048-9, composed of Muslims and their more numerous slaves... ...The period of neglect may have witnessed two small communities, the survivors and the conquerors’ garrison, speaking two different languages and perhaps intermingling over 150 years. In 1048-9 the sudden influx of a 5000-strong community of Arabic speakers must have absorbed the few former inhabitants whose language did not leave its mark on the new one."
Languages in Malta and the Maltese Language
Education et Sociétés Plurilingues n°20-juin 2006
1090 Sicilian Normans
1224 the Swabian Emperor Frederick II expelled the Muslims from Malta. Nevertheless, most chose to convert rather than leave their homes.
1479 Spanish
1530 Knights of Malta (Italian) (In the beginning of 16th century also some Ottoman (Turkish) influence)
1798 French
1800 British
1964 Maltese

What does all of this mean?

Malta is its own country, the Maltese people have their own, individual culture and nature and the Maltese language is an independent, own, separate language.

Also, Malta IS part of Europe. They don't need to "try to be" Europeans. They ARE Europeans and have been for a very, very long time.

P.S. I have found some culprit to the idiocy displayed in YouTube.
Arab Heritage in Malta

The historical source of modern Maltese vocabulary is 52% Italian/Sicilian, 32% Siculo-Arabic, and 6% English, with some of the remainder being French. Today, most function words are Semitic. In this way, it is similar to English, which is a Germanic language that had large influence from French — although less so than Maltese. As a result of this, Romance language-speakers may easily be able to comprehend more complex ideas expressed in Maltese, such as "Ġeografikament, l-Ewropa hi parti tas-superkontinent ta' l-Ewrasja" (Geographically, Europe is part of the Supercontinent of Eurasia), while not understanding a single word of a simple sentence such as "Ir-raġel qiegħed fid-dar" (The man is in the house), which would be easily understood by any Arabic speaker.
Romance origin (Italian, Sicilian, French, Spanish) 40-55%
Arabic origin (Sicilo-Arabic, Semitic) 30-40%
English 5-20%


  1. You are mental. Maltese derives from Siculo-Arabic. English derives from a type of German but is German and English mutually intelligible? Maltese people do not understand Arabic does not matter what form of Arabic, it is all gobbledegook. Lots of guttural sounds like someone about to bring up phlegm.

    Good Night is Bonswa. Goodday is Bongu. Actually you are lying about understanding Semitic Maltese as the pronunciation would preclude any understanding. You are obviously relying on the written form and applying some Arabization to it. You saying it would not make it understandable to any Maltese person. Most Arabs use the word Beit for house not Dar which is archaic. Bejt in Maltese means roof or terrace.

    Eventually languages become unintelligible with their sister languages. Arabic is not understandable to Maltese people and Maltese as spoken by Maltese, not the written language, would not be understandable to Arabs. You should stop bullshitting.

    Genetically Maltese people are Southern Europeans, nothing like any Arabic peoples whether Lebanese, Yemanese, Tunisian, Egyptian, Saudi.

  2. Ponto, firstly, try to avoid psychological evaluations :-D You are not qualified to call anyone "mental".

    Secondly, you probably don't understand what I just said. Try to notice the quotation marks and not assign to me sentences in between them. Those are quotations.

    I have not said Maltese people understand Arabic, nor that Arabic speaking people understand Maltese. Try to re-read what I write.

    "Maltese people do not understand Arabic does not matter what form of Arabic, it is all gobbledegook. Lots of guttural sounds like someone about to bring up phlegm."
    That is your estimation. I'm not Maltese, and even if I was, I wouldn't be "Maltese people", so I cannot say what "Maltese people" understand and what they don't understand. I am pretty certain of that there is quite a lot of Arabic words that sound similar enough for Maltese to understand and vice versa. Doesn't mean they speak the same language, nor that they understand each other's languages.

    Nevertheless, your assessment of what Arabic sounds like is your opinion. Might sound like that in your ears, and if it does, I pity you.
    I also pity you for the need of bashing a language.

    "Actually you are lying about understanding Semitic Maltese as the pronunciation would preclude any understanding."
    Actually I am not, as I haven't even said anything like that. :-D

    Also, it's the pronunciation that is being understood. The quotations were comments from a video, and the people were commenting what they HEARD. Not some "arabization" of written form. Maltese as spoken by a Maltese person.

    "Eventually languages become unintelligible with their sister languages."
    Oh, do they :-D So it's not just THAT THEY ARE DIFFERENT LANGUAGES? Do you really believe ANYONE who studies languages thinks that one learns a whole family of languages by learning one language of the family? What IN MY BLOG gives you the impression that *I* think that?

    Dear "Ponto", would you kindly READ what *I* WROTE before you start reacting and screaming and calling me names. And it would REALLY help you with interaction on-line, if you learned to understand the common punctuation marks.

    I will be expecting you to apologize, but not very much, because I think you are just another reactive, opinionated idiot, a hit-and-runner, and I would be mighty surprised if you actually had the courage to admit you are wrong and out of line calling me "mental", "lying" and "bullshitting".

  3. Anonymous10/1/14 06:47

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. No response, "Ponto"?

    You just wander around the internet screaming at people and calling them names, but you have no spine nor balls to stand up for the consequences?

    You are not only wrong and stupid, you are a coward too. But I suppose that is required for a person to be able to do what you do.