Although there are several languages spoken in Malta, the official languages are English and Maltese. Italian, which is also commonly spoken in Malta, was also an official language until 1934. The two official languages are spoken throughout the country with the dialects and accents varying in different parts of the country. The Maltese language is a Semitic language which is often written in Latin characters. Over the years, foreign words, especially English and Italian, have become part of the language.
The numerous countries who governed Malta in the past contributed to the diversity of languages spoken in the country. According to the 2012 poll by the Eurobarometer, 98% of the population of Malta speaks Maltese while 88% can speak and understand English. Italian is spoken by over 66% of the population and more than 17% can speak or understand French. In addition to French and Italian languages, other foreign languages spoken in Malta include Arabic, German, Russian, and Spanish. Maltese sign language is also an integral part of languages used in the country.
The English language spoken in Malta is similar to the English spoken in the United Kingdom. The British took possession of Malta before independence, influencing the use of English in government businesses. Although Standard English is the official language, there are varieties of English spoken in the country, mainly influenced by the Italian language. The Italian language has not only influenced the English vocabulary phonology with English heavily accented. There are colloquial words or phrases that are used by Maltese when talking in English such as “Ejja” which means “come on.” Some of the phrases that can be used to refer to a friend include “kink, maaaan, champ, and king.”
Although the majority of the Maltese population speaks Maltese, English, and Italian languages, there are several other minority languages spoken in the country. Most of the minority languages spoken in the country are mainly foreign languages such as Arabic, German, Spanish, and Russian. Most of these languages are studied in schools at various levels, especially in secondary schools. Native languages are rarely spoken Malta except for the Maltese language which is an official language. Sign language is also spoken by a portion of the population that is speech challenged with sign language classes to promote its use throughout the country.
This page was last modified on November 22nd, 2017