Languages and language varieties in Malta

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Maltese, the national language of Malta, is, without doubt, the dominant language of most Maltese in most domains of language use in Malta. It however shares official status with English, which is also in regular use. Most Maltese can, in fact, be said to be bilingual to differing degrees. This article begins by providing some background information and a brief outline of the geographical and historical origins of Maltese. This separate ‘entity’ – one which also has its own dialects – has developed by melding elements from different sources. The internal heterogeneity of Maltese can be seen to be a reflection of the complex external situation of language use on the Islands. Official bilingualism in fact gives rise to a rich linguistic context of use within which Maltese speakers, bilingual and/or bidialectal to different degrees, operate. The notion of a continuum of use is employed as a means of explaining the complex linguistic behaviour of bilingual Maltese speakers. The effects of regular use of English alongside Maltese on the English of speakers of Maltese are also discussed briefly

Author-supplied keywords

  • bidialectal
  • continuum
  • crosslinguistic influence
  • domain
  • status

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  • Alexandra Vella

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