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International Annual for Lexicography / Revue Internationale de Lexicographie / Internationales Jahrbuch für Lexikographie

Ed. by Gouws, Rufus Hjalmar / Heid, Ulrich / Herbst, Thomas / Lobenstein-Reichmann, Anja / Schierholz, Stefan J. / Schweickard, Wolfgang

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Volume 33, Issue 2017


Maltese: blending Semitic, Romance and Germanic lexemes

Joseph M. Brincat
Published Online: 2018-08-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lex-2017-0011


Malta’s position at the centre of the Mediterranean attracted various conquerors and settlers, but in its present form Maltese has its origins in the Arabic dialect introduced by the Muslim conquest around the year 1000. Lexical Latinisation started early under Norman rule and kept increasing steadily up to the twentieth century thanks to contact with Chancery and spoken Sicilian up to the sixteenth century, and then with Italian which was introduced by the Knights of Malta. This article traces the historical developments and their influence on the Maltese language, providing statistics concerning the composition of the lexicon and the various methods by which it can be analysed. A look at the present situation explains how Maltese and English bilingualism in the schools and in society is affecting the spoken variety which is often marked by code-switching.

Keywords: Maltese, Italian, English, language contact, lexical stratigraphy

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About the article

Published Online: 2018-08-28

Citation Information: Lexicographica Lexi., Volume 33, Issue 2017, Pages 207–224, ISSN (Online) 1865-9403, ISSN (Print) 0175-6206, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lex-2017-0011.

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