Today I received some new translations for the Maltese phrases page, and what struck me when adding the phrases was the mixed nature of Maltese vocabulary – about half the words come from Italian and Sicilian, a quarter from English and the rest from Arabic.
The Italian/Sicilian borrowings I spotted include:
- Bonġornu = Good morning (Buonjorno)
- Bonswa = Good evening/night (Buena sera) – sounds more like the French bonsoir.
- Ċaw = Goodbye (Ciao)
- Awguri = Good luck (Auguri – best wishes in Italian)
- Skużi = Excuse me (Mi scusi)
- Grazzi = Thank you (Grazie)
Borrowings from English include:
- Heppi berdej = Happy Birthday
Sometimes it’s difficult to spot such words at first due to the different spelling conventions of Maltese, but once you get used to them, they become more obvious. So if you know Italian or another Romance language it is possible to make some sense of Maltese.
Do any of you speak Maltese or have you studied it?