Standing at the heart of the Mediterranean for so many centuries, Malta has been influenced by a large number of nationalities and cultures that have all left an indelible mark on the island’s most primitive form of communication – language. Semantic by root and Latin by alphabet, Maltese enjoys a 30-letter alphabet and a vocabulary that predominantly recalls Arabic, Italian and the neighbouring Sicilian dialect.
First of all I should probably point out right away that Maltese people take talking very seriously – and for this reason, most of the time, they generally tend to be rather loud about it. Expect high tonalities, vivid hand gestures, and the occasional physical contact that could be easily misinterpreted if not expected. Ready to take on the Maltese linguistic challenge? Here are 5 phrases to help you charm the locals and get around like a pro.
Where are you from? – Min fejn int? [Min / feyn / int]
What’s your name? – X’jismek? [Shh-yismeck]
My name is… – Jien jisimni… [yien / yee-sim-ni…]
Thank you – Grazzi [grat-see]
Good morning – Bongu [Bon-giu]
And if you’ve just aced those and feel like you’d be up for some more, here are some more complex phrases and their relative pronunciations.
Malta is wonderful! – Malta hija sabiha hafna [Malta / ee-ya / sa-bee-ha / hhaf-fna]
I’ll be right back – Ha nerga nigi [Hha / ner-gia / nee-gee]
I don’t know – Ma nafx [Ma / nafsh]
I love you – Inħobbok [in-hhob-bock]
I’m staying at the Marina Hotel Corinthia Beach Resort – Qed noqod il Marina Hotel [ed / noh-odd / il / Corinthia Marina]
As you might have realised I have at times made use of a double H (hh) in the phonetic details. This particular letter is sounded rather strongly in Maltese and should be pronounced like the H in Harry or Hotel.
Apart from the phrases above, you’ll also hear Maltese people using the words ‘Mela’ and ‘ta’ very often. These words don’t hold any specific meaning to them whenever isolated, but are generally used to bridge sentences during colloquial conversation. Feel free to throw them around at the end of sentences to make your language instantly sound ‘more Maltese’!