Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/45222
Title: Before Maltese : languages in Malta from prehistory to the byzantine age
Other Titles: Malta in the Hybleans, the Hybleans in Malta: Malta negli Iblei, gli Iblei a Malta
Authors: Brincat, Joseph M. (Giuseppe)
Keywords: Language and culture -- Malta -- History
Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- Arabic
Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- Latin
Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- English
Maltese language -- Foreign elements -- Italian
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Officina di Studi Medievali
Citation: Brincat, J. (2008). Before Maltese: languages in Malta from prehistory to the byzantine age. In A. Bonanno, & P. Militello (Eds.), Malta in the Hybleans, the Hybleans in Malta: Malta negli Iblei, gli Iblei a Malta (pp. 233-244). Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali.
Abstract: Due to its position exactly at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta’s contacts have not been limited to its immediate neighbours, Sicily and North Africa. Throughout its history it has been at the mercy of the naval powers that sailed the Sicilian channel and the Maltese language has been shaped by its inhabitants’ contacts with the peoples who governed the islands or established colonies there. For thousands of years, when the inhabitants had to live off the islands’ resources, the population was small, around 5,000, and this factor may have allowed language substitution a number of times. This may surprise us today, but before the Romantic Age people had a very pragmatic view of language: like any other tool it was prized mostly for its efficiency. The population multiplied in the past one thousand years, thanks to waves of settlers from abroad who forged strong contacts with the locals and introduced bilingual interaction in various domains. For this reason a history of the Maltese language must be seen in the wider linguistic history of the Maltese islands and offers linguists in both the historical and typological fields an intriguing case study of a “minor” language that survived alongside a series of “major” languages like Arabic, Latin, Sicilian, Italian and English. These enjoyed a lot of prestige in Malta but their use was restricted to the literate minority.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/45222
ISBN: 888861575X
Appears in Collections:Malta in the Hybleans, the Hybleans in Malta: Malta negli Iblei, gli Iblei a Malta

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