The Maltese language is one of the most unique languages out there. It is a blend of three other languages: Arab, English and Italian and it might be a bit overwhelming especially when you first moved here! Click here for a list of Maltese phrases you need to know before coming to Malta!
“Your language is so weird!”
“It sounds like gibberish”
I get this a lot from my foreign friends living here in Malta and to some extent, they are right. The Maltese language is very unique. To someone who has never heard a local speak, it sounds a lot like Arab. But then, they’ll hear English and Italian words thrown into the mix and they’re like .. wow, hold up what kind of witchcraft is this??
So in today’s post, as part of my series of posts in my Malta Guides From A Local, I am going to share with you a list of words and phrases that will make your life so much easier in Malta. Locals use these all the time and they are very easy! You’ll feel like a proper Maltese in no time.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the list of Maltese phrases you need to know before coming to Malta!
Somethings to know about Maltese:
You will see a lot ‘għ’. This letter forms part of the Maltese alphabet and it’s there to confuse students. It has no sound so when you see a word with this letter, don’t get overwhelmed! Treat it as though it’s not there.
Like I mentioned above, the Maltese language is very unique. There’s no language similar or like it and only a few people in the world know how to speak it compared to other universal languages like English or French or Italian.
One thing I always keep in mind when studying or learning languages is to avoid translating from your native language or even English! I know this might be a struggle, especially if you don’t the language yet, but it has helped me a lot.
If you’re in Malta, Life Long Learning offers classes in Maltese. Applications are closed at the moment but applications open up throughout the year. I took a number of classes from them and found them helpful. Check them out if you’re serious about learning Maltese!
There are also a number of awesome books that are targeted towards people who want to learn the language. Check out Malta’s main book shops such as Agenda or Merlin
Mela is the most versatile and commonly used language amongst locals (and foreigners too!). It is actually one of the first words that foreigners pick up because we say it all the time. It doesn’t have a meaning as such but we just throw it in sentences when we want to say ‘So’ and ‘Yes, of course’. Mela is also used as a filler and comes in handy in awkward situations. I find it very useful when someone asks me a question and I couldn’t think of an answer on the spot so I just say mela until my brain desperately tries to think of an answer.
A must know phrase/word before coming to Malta!
2. U ajma:
Another word we use a lot. U ajma can be used when you want to say ‘come on’ when you’re annoyed with them.
U ajma kemm tagħmel għaġeb! Come on, you’re making a lot of fuss!
That’s the best way I could describe this word!
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Welcome. This is used when you greet somebody. You’ll also see it in signs when you drive into a village or town. Although we don’t use it as often because we tend to use the English version more, it still is a good word to know!
The Ħ in Merħba is pronounced as the H in Hi.
Another Maltese classic.
Orrajt is the Maltese version of ‘All right?’ ‘All good?’ It’s a very easy one to remember but I get a lot of comments when I say in my Maltese accent from my foreign friends! They seem to find it very amusing.
Illalu is used when you you want to say oh my! or when you get bad news and you want to say you’re surprised or when you want to say ‘oh gosh’ ‘oh jeez’. We say this a lot so it’s worth remembering!
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Bis-serjeta? means are you serious? Just like ilallu, we use it when someone tells us something and we can’t belive we’re hearing it.
7. Mhux Hekk:
Mhux hekk is also another commonly used phrase. We use it in so many different situations that pinpointing a meaning is hard but it can be roughly translated to ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ or ‘say it isn’t so’ or ‘isn’t it?’. It’s one of those words that we drop without any meaning.
Marelli is another word for oh my god. Just like ilallu, we use it to express surprise. It’s a good word to have in your vocab!
The famous ta. Just like mela, it has no real meaning but it’s something we use a lot. We just throw it in a sentence to say ‘so’ or even ‘yes’ sometimes. Also, you can use it to say ‘of’.
Uxx is used when someone says something in line with what you agree with and you answer with UXX??!! It’s derived from the above mentioned word ‘Mhux Hekk’ and I make use of this world a lot!
Yes, this word means bomb. Like an actual bomb but in everyday language, it has another meaning. We use bomba to say ‘awesome’. For example we receive good news and we reply with
‘Bomba! Aħbar tajba din’ ‘Awesome! That’s such good news!’
Or we just use it by itself and just say bomba!
Ajma has a twofold meaning. Firstly, when someone hurts themselves or is in pain, they say ajma. But, it can also be used to say you’re annoyed with something that someone said.
‘Ajma kemm hi bla sens 🙄 ‘ ‘Ugh, that’s so annoying/that doesn’t make sense’
Whenever I use the word ajma (when I’m not in pain of course) I always think of that eye roll emoji without fail because that emoji literally expresses what ajma means
Aw is our informal hello. When my mom calls me, I answer her
‘Aw ma!’ ‘Hello mom!’
Or a friend sends me a message, I answer with aw as hello. It is mostly used in informal setting. I would never say hi to my boss and use the word aw for example! We use this word a lot and it’s a very common phrase to know before coming to Malta.
Iva is yes! Very easy to learn. It’s pronounced as ijva. A must know before coming to Malta.
And it’s counterpart, no, is le. Again, very easy to remember and keep in mind. This word is pronounced differently than the article le in French. In French, the e is a bit muted. In Maltese, you pronounce the e.
Very similar to the Italian word ‘Grazie’, grazzi means thank you.
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17. Bonġu (bon-ġu):
Bonġu means goodmorning. It is very similar to Bonjour in French and Buongiorno in Italian! We use Bonġu in person, telephone calls, emails and so on. It’s a very handy word to have in your Maltese language repertoire. The Ġ is pronounced the same as J in Bonjour!
Bonġu is one of the most used words in our language. It’s a must know!
18. Kif inti?
How are you? It’s a very easy word to learn and pretty much the only way we ask how a person is. There’s another phrase kif tinsab? but that’s not commonly used as much as kif inti?
19. Jien orrajt, Jien ok, Jien tajjeb grazzi (M), Jien tajba grazzi (F):
To answer kif inti, you can say jien orrajt/ok which translates to I’m good/ok. Jien is the first person pronoun to say I. Jien tajjeb grazzi/jien tajba grazzi are good too. Note that tajjeb is male and tajba is female.
20. U inti kif inti?
And how are you? U is and. Inti kif inti is how are you? You can also ditch the inti (you) and just say kif inti?
21. Il-Ġurnata it-tajba:
Good day or have a good day. We usually use this when we’re ending a conversation and we’re going our separate ways.
Just like ‘ciao’ in Italian, ċaw means goodbye. It’s pronounced also the same! Another word we use is Bonswa but not as often as ċaw.
23. Jekk Jogħġbok:
The rough translation is if you please. This word is used when someone asks you for example ‘do you want some sugar in your coffee’ and you reply with please and jekk jogħbok.
24. Tista Tgħini?
Can you help me? This is a great one to keep in mind if you’re ever in need of any assistance!
What’s your name? The way to use it is Inti x’jismek?
26. Jien Jisimini ..
And to answer that question, you reply with my name is .. jien jisimini .. and add your name!
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From the looks of it, the Maltese language may seem hard but don’t let it overwhelm you. With time and patience, you will get the hang of it! Even if you know just a few words, you’ll be fine in Malta. There are a ton of other websites giving their two cents on helpful Maltese phrases! Check them out below:
- Air Malta – Speak Like A Local
- Pristine Works – 11 Maltese Words & Phrases You Need To Know
- Linguanat – Maltese Phrases & Common Sentences
And that brings an end to today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it and bookmark it for later in case you need to speak some Maltese! While you’re still here, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and pin this blog post to your Pinterest boards ♡
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