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The Languages spoken in Malta

Malta, although a very small country, adopts two languages as its official languages, one is the native Maltese and the other one is English.

The Maltese language is considered as the national language and is also an official language of the European Union. It is spoken by an estimated 371,000 speakers around the world. Surprisingly, the Maltese language can be heard as well in Canada, the USA, Gibraltar, Italy and as far as Australia because of the significant population of Maltese expatriate living in those countries. The Maltese language is classified as a form of a Semitic language, the form of language spoken from most Arab nations, but borrows a lot of Sicilian, standard Italian and English words. In fact, 20% of its vocabulary is English words. What makes the present day Maltese language unique is that it is the only Semitic language written in Latin alphabet.

The evolution of the Maltese language can be attributed to the fact that Malta was under Arab rule but was later freed by the Normans, also known as the Siculo-Italians giving the prevailing Arabic language a mixture of Sicilian. Then when the Order of the Knights of Malta seized dominion on Malta, French and standard Italian were made official languages giving the native language more words incorporated into it. Then much later on, during the British rule, English was introduced into the mix.

Currently, 100% (but could be down to 98%) of the Maltese population can actually speak the Maltese language while English, the co-official language, has an 88% following. The Italian language is also becoming a popular third language where 66% of the people could actually speak it. Other languages of note are French, German and Spanish which are being taught at most Malta’s secondary schools.



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