And I am so proud of myself!
Google translate is my working dictionary... and it is not the best one available.
So - it gives the translation "are, is, being, been" to both qed and qegħdin.
Now, I KNOW these words have nothing to do with 'to be' (ikun - Maltese verbs' base form is the 3.sg.m. perf.) So... what IS this verb, really?
q-d... q-għ-d... could be. Għ is silent, so in some forms they just skip it.
Maltese Verb Roots and Patterns Database gives this for q-għ-d
3. be applicable
1. put, place
Ok... Hmm... Maybe...
Then I found this
Maltese also has the category of progressive marked by the grammaticalised active participle qiegħed 'staying' (of qagħad 'to stand') - with the inflected forms qiegħda for feminine and qegħdin for plural beside the uninflected reduce qed.
Kulħadd kien qed jistenna s-sinjal
everybody be (perf) prog (3.sg-m) wait (def) signal
everybody was waiting for the signal.
Thomas Stolz, Cornelia Stroh, Aina Urdze
Total Redulication - The Areal Linguistics of a Potential Universal,
I logged in 12 hours of studies today. I am very pleased with myself. I really need to go through those verbs... As evidenced above :-D