- Maltese (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 continues to be the only standardized Semitic language written exclusively in the Latin script.
→ 5.1 Consonants
→ 5.2 Vowels
→ 5.3 Stress
→ 5.4 Historical phonology
→ 6.1 Alphabet
→ 6.2 Written Maltese
→ 6.3 Sample
→ 7.1 Romance
→ 7.2 Siculo-Arabic
→ 7.3 English
→ 8.1 Adjectives and adverbs
→ 8.2 Nouns
→ 8.3 Article
→ 8.4 Verbs
For the full text, see Wikipedia: Maltese language.
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