Maltese language

Maltese (Malti) is a Semitic language spoken by approximately 420,000 people on the Mediterranean island of Malta, Gozo ( Għawdex) and Comino (Kemmuna). The Maltese language evolved from Sicilian Arabic, a form of Arabic that was spoken in Sicily and Malta between the 9th and 14th centuries. Siculo-Arabic, or Sicilian Arabic, became extinct in Sicily around 1300, but continued to be spoken in Malta and evolved into Maltese.

The first reference to the fact that a different language was spoken in Malta is from 1364. It was the first time that there was a reference of a Maltese language, in the testament of a man named Pawlu Pilgrim.

There is also a theory that Maltese evolved from Carthaginian or Punic, the language of Carthage, which was a form of Phoenician. This theory was endorsed by Giacomo Bosio in his book Dell'Istoria della Sacra Religione et Illustrissima Militia di San Giovanni Gierosolimitano (The History of the Sacred Religion and the Illustrious Militia of Saint John of Jerusalem), written between 1594 and 1602.

Since Carthaginian and Arabic are Semitic languages that share the same origin, it is difficult to know whether the Maltese vocabulary comes from Carthaginian or Arabic.

The first known literary text in Maltese, II Cantilena, appeared during the 15th century. The first Maltese dictionary was published in 1649.

In addition to the Arabs, who began to take control of Malta in 870 AD, Malta was occupied by the Normans in 1090, and between 1530 and 1798 by the Knights Hospitaller of St John, who spoke French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latin and German. In 1800, Malta became a British colony and the British tried to replace Italian with English as the local language. For this reason, half the vocabulary of Maltese comes from Sicilian and Italian, and one fifth from English. Maltese also contains quite a lot of words from the the Norman and French languages.

After Malta became independent in 1964, both English and Maltese were given official status and Maltese became Malta's national language. Today, Maltese is used in most areas of public life, including the Parliament, the church, the press and other media, and also in everyday life. English is usually the language used in the education system, especially at the university level.

Translation agency for Spanish-English-Maltese

Now that you know a little more about the Maltese language, you might be interested to know that we offer professional translation services from both English to Maltese and from Maltese into English. We specialise in translation from and into Spanish.

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