Maltese language

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Native toMalta
Native speakers
(400,000 cited 1975)
Latin (Maltese alphabet)
Maltese Braille
Official status
Official language in
 European Union
Regulated byNational Council for the Maltese Language
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Language codes
ISO 639-1mt
ISO 639-2mlt
ISO 639-3mlt

Maltese is the language of Malta, and a language of the European Union. Maltese sounds very similar to the type of Punic, an ancient Mediterranean and middle-eastern spread language. It is written in the Latin alphabet like English. The language has borrowed many words from Arabic, Sicilian, Italian, and English.

History[change | change source]

Many people from Sicily settled in Malta after the Muslims conquered it in 870 AD. They spoke a Sicilian-Arabic language. In later centuries their language changed into Maltese. The oldest known document in Maltese is "Il Cantilena," a poem from the 15th century written by Pietro Caxaro.[1] For centuries, Maltese was mainly a spoken language.

Maltese became an official language of Malta in 1934, alongside English.[2] Before that year, the only official language of Malta was Italian. Italian, however, is still used a lot in the media.

Number of Speakers[change | change source]

Today, there are around 393,000 people who speak Maltese. Most of them live in Malta.[3]

Today[change | change source]

Italian and English words are being taken in by the language more and more. This sometimes causes words to form that are not found in Maltese, Italian, or English, but instead are a mix of the three. At schools, English is taught as a second language. Maltese is usually used in the standardized jobs and when people talk to each other. Most of the television, radio, and literature in Malta is also in Maltese.

References[change | change source]

  1. L-Akkademja tal-Malti. "The Maltese Language Academy".
  2. MED Magazine
  3. Maltese at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)