Maltese is the happy child of a marriage between Arabic and Italian. What makes me intrigued to learn about a language is when two or more cultures decide to marry and give birth to a new language. Just like Cypriot MaroniteArabic.
Geographically, Malta is a European island off the coast of Libya, Tunisia and Italy. Being in this unique location, it is no wonder that it was influenced by its neighbors’ cultures.
What comes to your mind when you think of Semitic languages? A distinct alphabet, writing from right to left and probably the Middle East? Well, Maltese is a Semitic language that decided not to go by a lot of these rules.
Malta is the only EU country that has a Semitic official language. What makes Maltese a unique language is that it is the only Semitic language written in Latin script and therefore from left to right, even though a lot of the words come from North African Arabic. Visitmalta.com states, “The influence of the Arabs who made the Islands home from the 9th to 13th centuries is clear in the Maltese language whose roots are closely akin to Arabic. Place names and numbers are the most obvious examples of Arabic influence on the language.” And being less than 200km away from Sicily, it was influenced by its language too. In fact Maltese belongs to the Siculo-Arabic language family.
Check out this video that teaches Maltese numbers, they’re so similar to Arabic:
Video posted on YouTube by TheHuSkY1984