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Title: Some linguistic comments on religious terms in Maltese
Authors: Trimble, L.P.
Keywords: Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- Arabic
Linguistics -- Religious aspects
Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- Italian
Issue Date: 1973
Publisher: University of Malta
Citation: Trimble, L.P. (1973). Some linguistic comments on religious terms in Maltese. Journal of Maltese Studies, 9, 59-67.
Abstract: The Arabs of North Africa conquered the islands of Malta and Gozo in 870 they found a community that had been continuously Christian since the coming of St. Paul in 60 A.D. When they were driven out two hundred years later by the Siculo-Norman invasion, the Arabs left only a single significant contribution to Maltese social structure - their language.They reduced, but they did not eliminate, Christianity. With the coming of the Normans from Sicily, the reverse of the pattern that developed under Arab domination took place: the language remained basically Semitic but the social structure altered rapidly. The Roman Catholic Church became the dominant form of religion, and it has so remained to the present. Ecclesiastical and secular authority was vested in speakers of Sicilian and Italian, thus creating a Romance superstructure on the Semitic linguistic base. The effects of these and other less influential linguistic and cultural waves that have swept over Malta and Gozo can be seen from an examination of some of the linguistic elements in the religious language of the people. This paper attempts to show some of these elements by presenting a brief linguistic analysis of the three most commonly recited Catholic prayers: ll-Missierna or the Pater Noster, ll-Kredu or the Apostles' Creed and ls-Sliema or the Hail Mary. The paper also discusses some representational religious phrases and some common words used with their religious meanings. Of particular note are the shifting from the construct state to periphrasis in noun-noun possessive relationships; the free mixing of Romance and Semitic words in the same phrase; the development of lexically and morphologically Semitic but syntactically and conceptually Romance calques from Italian; and the increasing existence of doublets - one Semitic and the other Romance.
Appears in Collections:JMS, Volume 9
JMS, Volume 9

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