History of the Maltese Language
In the initial stage, verbs with- out roots not necessarily identifiable to speakers as loans from Italo-Romance are analysed as falling into the weak-final conjugation class because they have a stem-final vowel. But since all verbs without roots at this pre-English stage have a stem-final vowel, it is possible to view the lack of a root, not the presence of a stem-final vowel, as the reason that loan verbs obligatorily fall into the weak- final conjugation class; and it seems that speakers indeed made this reanalysis.
In a parallel development, initial consonant gemination also came to be seen an obligatory feature of the class of verbs lacking a root. In contrast, some Type B verbs allow for the formation of passive participle using Romance suffixes Mifsud — and this is the sole option for Type C and even Type D verbs: for Type C verbs, the choice of the actual suffix depends on the original form of the verb and, in some cases, the path of borrowing see below. For Type D verbs borrowed from English, the suffix -at is the only productive way to form a passive participle e.
And finally, there are two distinct classes of Type B and C verbs which can each derive two passive participles. In the first class, one participle is derived from the weak regular form root and the other derived from the strong one, e. In the second class, one participle is derived using the Sicilian suffix -ut, the other using the Standard Italian suffix -it, e. The reason for these doublets is largely sociolinguistic: the variability of the first class echoes a similar situation in Italian dialects Mifsud , that of the second class reflects a situation whereby the loaned verb effectively has two sources: both spoken Sicilian and Standard Italian, whether in speech or in writing.
Similarly to the initial gemination and weak-final inflection of Type D verbs, this glide insertion must be the result of analogical extension from numerous glide-final borrowed Romance verbs, e. See Mifsud — for a detailed discussion. In Arabic, adjectives with the exception of comparatives, superlatives and a number of specific cases follow their heads. One could argue that it is in the former function that they were borrowed into Maltese and thus should be considered quantifiers or determiners rather than adjectives, especially in light of the fact that they are for the most part in complementary distribution with the definite article, as de- terminers and quantifiers are.
The same is invariably true of Maltese ordinal numerals, as ewwel in 4. Ritt-Benmimoun for Tunisian Arabic. In contrast, Maltese never allows its ordinal numerals to follow their heads, and the definite article is obligatory. All these arguments, including the comparison with related Arabic varieties, suggest that the pre-nominal position of some adjectives and ordinal numerals in Maltese is due to transfer under RL-agentivity from Italian. Manfredi this volume.
Konrad Mizzi. The Maltese development must therefore be another calque, since the basic possessive verb of Sicilian, aviri, also doubles as a deontic modal, as in 9. It is perhaps best exemplified by Spanish, where objects denoting humans and equivalent entities are marked by the particle a, originally a directional preposition. It is a phenomenon attested cross-linguistically see Khan for Semitic languages , including in varieties of Arabic like Levantine and Iraqi Arabic Coghill and references therein and in Andalusian Arabic A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Andalusi Arabic Inanimate objects do not take lil A striking feature of the Arabic varieties that exhibit DOM is that they were all in prolonged contact with other languages: Aramaic for Levantine and Iraqi Arabic and, by extension, for Cypriot Maronite Arabic, cf.
It is clear that this is a contact-induced change. Maltese Clitic Doubling Proper occurs with both direct 13 and indirect objects The phenomenon is also attested in Semitic languages Khan , in- cluding Arabic, where it was studied in detail by Souag Types 3 and 4, while not without parallel in other varieties Arabic,10 feature much more prominently in Maltese.
This is especially true of type 3 copular clauses, which involve the use of a personal pronoun as the copula It is therefore even more significant that in Maltese, they have become the dominant form of copular construction in the present time-frame: in MUDTv1, for example, copular clauses are of type 1; are type 3. The conclusion to be drawn here is the same as for DOM and Clitic Doubling Proper above: the fact that these copular constructions are in wide use only in varieties of Arabic which have been heav- ily influenced by other languages is no coincidence.
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to quantify the influence of other languages on Maltese by providing a classification of lexemes by their origin. The earliest, Fenech — , compiled such statistics for journalistic Maltese, but also provided a comparison to literary and spoken Maltese albeit using a very small data sample. Figure 1 summarizes all these findings. The high ratio of words of Semitic origin in token-based analyses is thus due to the prevalence of function words which are overwhelmingly Arabic.
The type-based analyses then provide a somewhat accurate picture of the lexicon as whole, even though they are not without their problems. Chief among these is the issue of what exactly counts as type, especially with regard to productive derivational affixes, e. Function words A number of generalizations can be made here see Table 5 for a summary , though ultimately they all follow naturally from the fact that contact with English was more recent, and less intensive, than contact with Sicilian and Italian.
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Modern world 3. The domain of animals divides rather neatly as follows. Common animals especially land animals of the Mediterranean area are largely Arabic-derived e.
More exotic animals, if there is a corresponding Maltese item at all, derive from English e. A generalization that underlies this finding is that while English influ- ence is strongest in the spheres of commerce, consumerism and, especially in the 21st century, popular culture e.
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This influ- ence has waned considerably at the expense of English and American culture since the advent of broadcast pluralism in Malta, and especially with the rise of cable television and online video streaming. Berber is perhaps the most notorious example, where a number of loan words from Berber languages were identified by Colin and Aquilina 25— Nevertheless, the fact that there is a Berber lexical compo- nent in Maltese is well established and Souag has shown that it may be larger than previously thought e.
In addition to Berber, Maltese also contains a small number of words that can be reasonably traced back to Aramaic. These borrowings could on one hand strengthen the case for a Levantine sub- strate if not origin in Maltese, as Alexander Borg insists; on the other hand, some of them can also be found in other North African varieties Behnst- edt And finally, post-classical Greek with its ubiquitous presence all across the Mediterranean including the neighboring Sicily could not help but leave a trace on Maltese vocabulary, small though it is.
However, the meaning in which it appears in Maltese is unique to the Greek word, indicating that it was borrowed into Maltese from Greek. Further reading Krier is a short monograph on the influence of Italo-Romance on Maltese phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. Mifsud gives an in-depth description of Maltese loaned verbs. Sicilian Acknowledgments The research presented in this chapter was partly funded by a Leadership Fel- lows grant fron the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, whose support is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
Primary sources Maltese examples above are primarily cited from the general corpus of Maltese bulbulistan corpus malti v3 accessible at www. Each citation is accompanied by an abbreviation identifying the source BCv3 and MUDTv1, respectively , as well as the specific document where it can be found. Aquilina, Joseph.
Albert Borg - Google Scholar Citations
Maltese linguistic surveys. Malta: The University of Malta. Avram, Andrei A. Some phonological changes in Maltese reflected in ono- mastics. Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics The fate of the interdental fricatives in Maltese. Romano- Arabica Ballou, Maturin M. The story of Malta. Behnstedt, Peter. Berlinches, Carmen. Zaragoza: Prensas de la Univer- sidad de Zaragoza. Blau, Joshua. A grammar of Christian Arabic based mainly on South-Palestinian texts from the first millennium, fasc. Blouet, Brian.
London: Routledge. Borg, Alexander. Cypriot Arabic: A historical and comparative investiga- tion into the phonology and morphology of the arabic vernacular spoken by the Maronites of Kormakiti village in the Kyrenia district of North-West Cyprus. On some Levantine linguistic traits in Maltese. Israel Ori- ental Studies With an introductory essay.
Bovingdon, R. Statistical analysis of the source origin of Maltese. Wilson, D. Rayson eds. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Brincat, Joseph M. Malta Valetta: Said International. Maltese words. An etymological analysis of the Maltese lexicon. Geburtstag, — In Peter O. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Camilleri, Maris.
Related Maltese (Descriptive Grammars)
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