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The Maltese language

The Maltese language

Maltese language
After Malta become independent in 1964 both English and Maltese were given official status and Maltese became the national language of Malta. Today Maltese is used in most sectors of public life, including parliament, the church, the press and other media, and in general conversation. English is generally the preferred medium of instruction in schools, especially at the higher levels of the educational system.

The Maltese Alphabet

A a B b Ċ ċ D d E e F f Ġ ġ G g Għ għ H h
Ħ ħ I i Ie ie J j K k L l M m N n O o P p
Q q R r S s T t U u V v W w X x Ż ż Z z

Pronunciation

Vowel Pronunciation Example
A short, like 'u' in 'shut'
long, like 'a' in 'far'
raba
sala
fourth
chamber, hall
E short, as e in 'shed' long, as ai in 'hair' dell
gelu
shade
icing
I short, as i in 'fit' long, as ee in 'jeep' fitt
ilu
pushy, tedious, tiresome; ago
O short, like o in got long, like aw in law bott
sod
taunt
stiff, sturdy
U short, like u in 'full' long, like oo in 'fool’ pulptu hut Pulpit Fish

Consonants Pronunciation Example
B like Eng. b blu  
C like ch in 'church' coff bow, tie
D like Eng. d demm blood
F like Eng. f frott fruit
G like j in 'join' gbejna
Ġ like g in 'great' gardell
H silent within a word; pronounced like h in hen when at the end of a word fehem fih understand, realize
H like h in 'house’ hamsa five
J like y in 'yes' jannar January
K like k in 'kit' kelma word
L like l in 'life' landa tin
M as in Eng. m mans domestic
N as in Eng. n nisel origin
GH mostly silent (*) boghod remote
P as in Eng. p patata potato
Q glottal plosive sound produced by the closure of the vocal chords followed by their sudden separation dqiq flour
R trilled like Scottish marsus tight (-clothes)
S like s in 'sea' sinjur gentlemen, sir
T like t in French 'tante tfajla
V as in Eng. iva yes
W like w in 'war' werwer to terrify
X like sh in 'sheep' xadina
Z voiced, like z in 'fuzz' zunzan
Z unvoiced, like ts in 'hats' pinzell paintbrush

Notes:

  • għ is silent but pharygealizes and lengthens vowels
  • h has a similar function to għ
  • għ and h at the end of a word are both pronounced as ħ
  • għ = ħħ
  • Final consonants are devoiced: b=[p], d=[t], ġ=[t∫], g=[k], v=[f], ż=[s]
  • i before għ, h, ħ or q = [i:]
  • m followed by a consonant at the beginning of a word is pronounced im, e.g. mnejn = [imnejn]