Did you know that Maltese, the official language of Malta, is the only Semitic language that belongs to the Romance language family? While most Romance languages, such as Spanish, French, and Italian, evolved from Latin, Maltese developed from a mix of Arabic and Sicilian dialects. This unique linguistic blend makes Maltese a fascinating and distinct language within the Romance family.

Maltese has a rich history and a unique linguistic background. It traces its roots back to the arrival of the Arab population in Malta during the 9th century. Over the centuries, the language absorbed influences from different cultures, including Sicilian, Italian, English, and French. Today, Maltese is spoken by the majority of the Maltese population and holds the status of an official language. It is a living testament to the cultural and historical diversity of the Maltese islands. This linguistic fusion not only makes Maltese an intriguing language but also highlights the resilience and adaptability of the Maltese people throughout their history.

is maltese a romance language?

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Is Maltese a Romance Language?

Welcome to our discussion on whether Maltese is a Romance language. Maltese is the national language of Malta and it holds a unique position as the only Semitic language that is written in the Latin script. But is it considered a Romance language? Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

The Origins of Maltese

Maltese has a fascinating linguistic history that traces back to the Phoenicians who inhabited the region around 750 BC. As a Semitic language, it shares roots with Arabic, and significant Arabic and Italian influences can be seen in Maltese vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

The Arabic Influence

Due to its proximity to North Africa and the Arab world, the influence of Arabic on the Maltese language is extensive. Over the centuries, Arabic words and phrases have become an integral part of the Maltese vocabulary. Words like “wisq” (a lot), “xahar” (month), and “ajruplan” (airplane) are clear examples of this linguistic connection.

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In addition, Maltese adopts the Arabic structure of plurals, with the addition of a “j” sound at the beginning of the word. For example, “kelb” (dog) becomes “klieb,” and “ktieb” (book) becomes “ktiebiet.” These linguistic features highlight the influence of Arabic on the Maltese language.

The Romance Influence

While Maltese is primarily a Semitic language, it also has significant Romance language influences, particularly from Italian. This influence stems from the period of Malta’s history when it was under the control of various European powers, including the Normans, Sicilians, and the Knights of St. John.

Vocabulary borrowed from Italian includes words like “gvern” (government), “kamra” (room), and “kelb tal-baskott” (labrador dog). The Italian influence is also evident in the Maltese grammatical structure, with similarities in verb conjugation and sentence formation.

The Maltese language’s unique combination of Semitic and Romance language influences contributes to its distinct identity and sets it apart from other languages in the region.

Maltese vs. Other Romance Languages

When comparing Maltese to other Romance languages like Italian, French, or Spanish, it’s important to note the significant differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. While Maltese may have some loanwords from Italian, it is fundamentally a Semitic language with strong influences from Arabic.

Differences in Vocabulary

Unlike other Romance languages, Maltese has a distinct vocabulary that is rooted in Semitic origins. It uses Semitic-derived words for many common concepts, which can differ significantly from the corresponding words in Romance languages. For example, while Italian uses the word “casa” (house), Maltese uses “dar” instead.

Differences in Grammar

The grammatical structure of Maltese also differs from that of Romance languages. Maltese is a highly inflected language, with a complex system of verb conjugations and declensions. Romance languages, on the other hand, generally have simpler verb conjugation systems and less emphasis on declensions.

Differences in Pronunciation

The pronunciation of Maltese also sets it apart from Romance languages. With its Semitic roots, Maltese has unique sounds and phonetic patterns that are not found in Romance languages. The distinctive guttural “ħ” and the glottal stop “q” are examples of sounds that are specific to Maltese.

Benefits of Learning Maltese

While Maltese may not be a Romance language in the traditional sense, it offers learners a unique and interesting linguistic journey. Learning Maltese can provide several benefits:

  • Connecting with Maltese Culture: Language is an important aspect of any culture, and learning Maltese allows you to connect more deeply with the people and traditions of Malta.
  • Enhancing Communication: Knowing Maltese can help you communicate effectively with locals, especially in more casual settings where English may not be as widely spoken.
  • Gaining New Linguistic Skills: Learning a language like Maltese, with its diverse influences, can expand your linguistic repertoire and improve your overall language-learning abilities.
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Tips for Learning Maltese

Learning any language requires dedication and practice, and Maltese is no exception. Here are some tips to help you on your journey of learning Maltese:

  • Immerse Yourself in the Language: Surround yourself with Maltese language media, such as music, movies, and books, to expose yourself to the language on a regular basis.
  • Find a Language Partner: Seek out a language partner or join language exchange programs to practice your speaking skills with native Maltese speakers.
  • Take Language Classes: Consider taking formal language classes or hiring a tutor who specializes in teaching Maltese. This can provide structure and guidance throughout your learning journey.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistency is key when learning a language. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to practice your Maltese skills.


While Maltese exhibits some influences from Romance languages, it is primarily a Semitic language with its roots in Arabic. The unique blend of Semitic and Romance influences gives Maltese its distinct identity. Learning Maltese can be a rewarding experience that allows you to connect with Maltese culture and communicate effectively with locals. By immersing yourself in the language and practicing regularly, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of learning Maltese.

Key Takeaways: Is Maltese a Romance Language?

  • Maltese is a unique language that developed from a mixture of Arabic and other Romance languages.
  • It is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script.
  • While Maltese shares some similarities with Romance languages, it also has significant Arabic influence.
  • Maltese is the national language of Malta and is spoken by the majority of the population.
  • Learning Maltese can be a fun and rewarding experience for language enthusiasts!

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ section all about the Maltese language and its classification as a Romance language. Here, we will address common questions and provide insightful answers to help you better understand this fascinating language. Read on to discover more!

What is the origin of the Maltese language?

The Maltese language is a unique Afro-Asiatic language primarily derived from Arabic, with influences from Sicilian Italian, English, French, and Spanish due to the island’s history. It evolved from Arabic dialects spoken in Sicily and North Africa during Arab rule in the 9th century. Over time, it developed its own distinct character and vocabulary.

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Today, Maltese is the only Semitic language written in Latin script, making it even more intriguing and distinguishable from its linguistic roots.

Are the Romance languages related to Maltese?

Although Maltese shares some similarities with the Romance languages, it is not traditionally classified as one. The Romance languages, which include Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese, evolved from Latin, while Maltese has more immediate ties to Arabic.

However, due to the influence of Italian and other Romance languages during periods of foreign rule and occupation, Maltese does display certain lexical and morphological characteristics that show the overlap between these language families.

How similar is Maltese to Arabic?

Maltese has a significant influence from the Arabic language, with about 40-50% of its vocabulary being of Arabic origin. However, the grammar and sentence structure of Maltese have been heavily influenced by Sicilian Italian and English. This makes the language distinct and unique, with its own grammar rules and word order.

While Maltese speakers can often communicate with Arabic speakers to some extent, due to the shared Arabic vocabulary, there are still notable differences in pronunciation and grammar between the two languages.

Can a speaker of other Romance languages understand Maltese?

Although Maltese has been influenced by Romance languages, it is still a distinct language with its own grammar and vocabulary. While speakers of Italian, Spanish, French, or Portuguese might recognize some words or understand general concepts, fully understanding and communicating in Maltese would require dedicated study and practice.

However, for speakers of Romance languages, learning Maltese can be an exciting linguistic adventure, as they might find certain similarities and familiar roots that can aid in the learning process.

Is Maltese widely spoken and understood outside of Malta?

Due to the unique nature of Maltese as a language, it is primarily spoken and understood within the Maltese archipelago. While there might be individuals of Maltese descent living abroad who still speak the language, it is not as widely spoken or understood globally compared to major international languages like English, Spanish, or Mandarin.

Nonetheless, being proficient in Maltese can be a valuable asset when visiting or living in Malta, as it allows for deeper connections with the local culture and people.

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Maltese (IS IT ARABIC?!)

In this article, we discussed the importance of adhering to specific criteria when writing a succinct wrap-up. By using first-person point of view, we can effectively engage the reader, making the tone conversational and easy to understand. It is crucial to avoid jargon and use simple language suitable for a 13-year-old reader. Our aim was to provide clear and concise sentences, each presenting a single idea in no more than 15 words.

The objective of this wrap-up was to ensure the reader understands the key points of the article within just two paragraphs. By following these guidelines, we can create a professional tone that is relatable and informative, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of the discussed points.

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