Students who study abroad at the American University of Malta have the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to complete their undergraduate or graduate degree in a unique and beautiful island in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Though AUM is an American-style university composed of a multicultural student body, and English is an official language in Malta, learning a bit of Maltese can be exciting. The Maltese language is an interesting mixture of Arabic, Italian, and English, and it’s the only Semitic language written in Latin letters. A lot of the pronunciations have Arabic origins making them difficult for other language speakers to master. However, the local people will always appreciate you making the effort to speak in their mother tongue.
Prepare to start saying:
Bonġu, kif int?
This phrase means “good morning, how are you?” and will a great way to start a conversation. Just remember to only use the “Bonġu” part if it is actually morning.
You will hear this word as soon as you run into any Maltese person speaking. It will also be the word you hear most often during your time in Malta. This word has a range of meanings: “Of course!”, “Okay!”, “Alright!”, “Certainly!”, “So”, “Then” or even the filler “Umm”. It is commonly squeezed into the beginning or end of every sentence for effect. But all vary slightly in intonation.
Like “Mela” the phrase “Uwejja” can have multiple meanings and is widely use around the island. For example, this word can mean “Come on,” “Hurry up” or even “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Although it is pronounced just like the Italian “Ciao,” the word for goodbye is “Ċaw”. You will quickly find yourself saying this when leaving a place of hanging up the phone with someone.
Iva / Le
This is “Yes” and “No” and you will definitely hear Maltese people use it without even noticing.
Of course, with such a high level of English in Malta, no one is expecting you to be fluent before you arrive. If, however, you can drop a couple of Maltese words into a conversation with a local, then you will notice that it brings a cheerful smile and look of surprise to their face. By doing so, you’re showing the locals that you respect that they have their own distinct language and culture. Going the extra mile like this makes all the difference to the local people.