Life in Malta

Learning languages

Learning a language has always attracted me but I believed it was secondary in my life plans. I have given priority to my specific studies and work career and never thought to move abroad. But life is incredibly changeable and it is better to grab new opportunities when they arise.

Looking back to my first days on the island of Malta years ago,I can remember how insecure I was in speaking another language for the first time in life. I must say that I studied English language and culture at school, nearly twenty years ago. What happened after that I rarely practised it until landing in Malta.

Having started a new job, all of a sudden I have realized to be able to speak English twelve hours a day.

During the first weeks I was mentally exhausted. I found out that changing language was very tiring because I was translating word for word from Italian. Slowly this kind of stress went down and I acquired more self-esteem.

Today I keep revising English, but after some time since landing on the island, I have come up with the idea to learn the other official language of this country. This is why I guess, Maltese clearly also derives from my native local language, Sicilian. I realized it just after listening to some people talking on television during a movie. The whole history, culture and folklore of the two islands are strongly connected. It would be obvious to notice when looking at a map, but when you are inside it, personal feelings and reactions are different. 

It has already been one year since I started learning the archipelago original language, that is a mixture of semitic languages coming mostly from North African Arabic, Italian and English. It is indeed quite complex for me to conjugate the verbs and some names as well, since there are quite as such irregularities, but I am confident I will be able to speak it. 

As in every language we want to learn, time is our friend. 

I attended an extensive course last year, about 90 lesson hours plus a short course where it was asked of me, as a writing exercise, to prepare some slides relating to my culture and origins. It is a bit complicated if you do not have a Maltese keyboard. 

In fact the Maltese alphabet is the only semitic language in Europe using the Latin alphabet, with some characteristics. They read ħ as for “hello”, while h is silent. Letter g is read as the word “great”, whereas ġ as the word “general”.

They also have two z, one with a dot on top and one without. Their ċ can be read as  “city”. Their particular letter is then pronounced “ain”. They consider it as a single consonant.

Comparing it with the English alphabet, I have encountered less difficulties in reading, apart from words containing the letter Q. Looking at its phonetic symbol: /ʔ/ it has a particular pronunciation.

I had to work on it, but now I am quite sure about pronouncing it quite well.