Language - Maltese language

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Maltese language

Maltese (Malti) is the national language of Malta and a co-official language of the country alongside English, while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic, the extinct variety of Arabic that developed in Sicily and was later introduced to Malta, between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century.

Maltese has evolved independently of Classical Arabic and its varieties into a standardized language over the past 800 years in a gradual process of Latinisation. Maltese is therefore considered an exceptional descendant of Arabic that has no diglossic relationship with Classical or Modern Standard Arabic, and is classified separately from the Arabic macrolanguage. Maltese is also unique among Semitic languages since its morphology has been deeply influenced by Romance languages, namely Italian and Sicilian.

The original Semitic base, Siculo-Arabic, comprises around one-third of the Maltese vocabulary, especially words that denote basic ideas and the function words, but about half of the vocabulary is derived from standard Italian and Sicilian; and English words make up between 6% and 20% of the vocabulary. A recent study shows that, in terms of basic everyday language, speakers of Maltese are able to understand less than a third of what is said to them in Tunisian Arabic, which is related to Siculo-Arabic, whereas speakers of Tunisian are able to understand about 40% of what is said to them in Maltese. This reported level of asymmetric intelligibility is considerably lower than the mutual intelligibility found between Arabic dialects.

Maltese has always been written in the Latin script, the earliest surviving example dating from the late Middle Ages. It remains the only standardized Semitic language written in the Latin script.

The origins of the Maltese language are attributed to the arrival, early in the eleventh century, of settlers from neighbouring Sicily, where Siculo-Arabic was spoken, following the Fatimid Caliphate's conquest of the island at the end of the ninth century. This claim has been corroborated by genetic studies, which show that contemporary Maltese people share common ancestry with Sicilians and Calabrians, with little genetic input from North Africa and the Levant.

The Norman conquest in 1090, followed by the expulsion of the Muslims (complete by 1249) permanently isolated the vernacular from its Arabic source, creating the conditions for its evolution into a distinct language. In contrast to Sicily (where Siculo-Arabic became extinct, replaced by Sicilian), the vernacular in Malta continued to develop alongside Italian, eventually replacing it as official language in 1934 (alongside English).

The first written reference to the Maltese language is in a will of 1436, where it is called lingua maltensi. The oldest known document in Maltese is Il-Kantilena (Xidew il-Qada) by Pietru Caxaro. It dates from the 15th century.

The earliest known Maltese dictionary was a sixteenth-century manuscript entitled "Maltese-Italiano"; it was included in the Biblioteca Maltese of Mifsud in 1764, but is now lost. A list of Maltese words was included in both the Thesaurus Polyglottus (1603) and Propugnaculum Europae (1606) of Hieronymus Megiser, who had visited Malta in 1588–89; Domenico Magri gave the etymologies of some Maltese words in his Hierolexicon, sive sacrum dictionarium (1677). An early manuscript dictionary, Dizionario Italiano e Maltese, was discovered in the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome in the 1980s, together with a grammar, the Regole per la Lingua Maltese, attributed to a French Knight named Thezan. The first systematic lexicon is that of Giovanni Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis, who also wrote the first systematic grammar of the language and proposed a standard orthography.

Country

Malta

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta (Repubblika ta' Malta), is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Italy, 284 km east of Tunisia, and 333 km north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2, Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km. 2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

Malta has been inhabited since approximately 5900 BC. Its location in the centre of the Mediterranean has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, with a succession of powers having contested and ruled the islands, including the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, Knights of St. John, French, and British. Most of these foreign influences have left some sort of mark on the country's ancient culture.

Language

Maltese language (English)  Lingua maltese (Italiano)  Maltees (Nederlands)  Maltais (Français)  Maltesische Sprache (Deutsch)  Língua maltesa (Português)  Мальтийский язык (Русский)  Idioma maltés (Español)  Język maltański (Polski)  马耳他语 (中文)  Maltesiska (Svenska)  Limba malteză (Română)  マルタ語 (日本語)  Мальтійська мова (Українська)  Малтийски език (Български)  몰타어 (한국어)  Maltan kieli (Suomi)  Bahasa Malta (Bahasa Indonesia)  Maltiečių kalba (Lietuvių)  Maltesisk (Dansk)  Maltština (Česky)  Maltaca (Türkçe)  Малтешки језик (Српски / Srpski)  Malta keel (Eesti)  Maltčina (Slovenčina)  Máltai nyelv (Magyar)  Malteški jezik (Hrvatski)  ภาษามอลตา (ไทย)  Malteščina (Slovenščina)  Maltiešu valoda (Latviešu)  Μαλτεζική γλώσσα (Ελληνικά)  Tiếng Malta (Tiếng Việt) 
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