Basic Maltese

There are 29 letters in the Maltese alphabet. In some instances, the pronunciation of these letters is very different to English, with some letters even having different pronunciations depending on how they are written, or where in a word they are found. Some simple examples are as follows: 

LETTER       PRONUNCIATION          EXAMPLES

A                    like ‘u’ in ‘shut’                           arpa (harp)

                       like ‘a’ in ‘far’                              sala (lounge)

B                                                                         blata (rock)

Ċ                     like ch in ‘church’                      ċoff (bow)

D                                                                         dudu (worm)

E                     like e in ‘shed’                            dell (shadow)

                       like ai in  ‘hair’                            gelu (gel)

F                                                                         flus (money)

Ġ                    like j in ‘join’                               ġobon (cheese)

G                    like g in ‘great’                           gondola (gondola)

Għ                 mostly silent (*)                         għar (cave)                                        

H                   silent in the middle                    fehem (understood)

                      like h in hen at the end              fih (which)

Ħ                   like h in ‘house’ at beginning    ħuta (fish)

I                    like I in  ‘fit’                                 id (hand)

                      like ee in ‘jeep’                            iva (yes)

J                    like y in  ‘yes’                              jot (yacht)

K                   like k in ‘kit’                                 karma (room)

L                   like l in ‘life’                                  landa (tin)

M                                                                        mara (woman)

N                                                                        nanna (grandmother)

O                  like o in got                                  omm (mother)

                     like aw in law                               sod (sound)

P                                                                         patata (potato)

Q                   glottal plosive sound                  qalb (heart)

                      produced by the closure of

                      the vocal chords followed

                      by their sudden separation

R                   trilled like in Afrikaans                ramel (sand)

S                    like s in ‘sea’                                  sufan (sofa)

T                    like t in French ‘tante’                 tifla (girl)

U                    like u in ‘full’                                 pulptu (pulpit)

                       like oo in ‘fool’                               vapur (ship)

V                                                                            vit (tap)

W                   like w in ‘war’                                widna (ear)

X                    like sh in ‘sheep’                            xadina (monkey)

Z                    unvoiced, like ts in ‘hats’              zalzett (sausage)

Ż                    voiced, like z in ‘fuzz’                     żunżan (bee)

 (*) ‘GH’ is regarded as a single letter in Maltese. When it precedes or follows any one of the vowels ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘o’ it prolongs the sound of the vowel.

When ‘GH’ is followed by ‘i’ it makes the sound ‘ye’ like ‘bye’.

When ‘GH’ is followed by ‘u’ it makes the sound ‘ou’ like ‘soul’.

When ‘GH’ is the last letter in a word, it is pronounced like ‘h’ in ‘hair’.

 SOME COMMON WORDS AND PHRASES

                English                                                  Maltese                               Phonetic

                Yes                                                        Iva                                        iva

                No                                                          Le                                         le

                Please                                                    Jekk joghgbok                   yek yojbok

                Thank you                                            Grazzi                                 gratsi

                Thank you very much                        Grazzi hafna                      gratsi hafna

                You’re welcome                                   M’hemmx mn’hiex          memsh mnish

                Good morning                                      Bongu                                bonju

                Good evening                                       Bonswa                              bonswa

                Good night                                            Il-lejl it-tajjeb                   illeyl itayeb

                Good-bye                                             Sahha                                  sahha

                So long                                                  Caw                                     chaw

                Pleased to meet you                           Ghandi pjacir                     andi pyachir

                How are you?                                      Kif inti?                               kiyf inti?

                Very well, thanks.                               Tajjeb(m),tajba(f)             tayeb/tayba

                And you?                                              hafna. U inti?                     hafna u inti?

                I beg your pardon?                             Skuzi?                                 Skuzi?

                Excuse me                                            Skuzi!                                  skuzi

                Sorry!                                                    Skuzani!                             skuzani

                Where is…?                                          Fejn hu…?                           feyn uw

                Where are…?                                       Fejn huma…?                     feyn uma

                How much/many…?                           Kemm…?                            kem

                Do you speak English?                        Titkellem bl-Ingliz?          Titkellem bl inglis?

                I understand.                                       Nifhem.                               nifem

                I don’t understand.                             Ma nifhimx.                        ma nifimsh

                Do you understand?                           Qed tifhem?                        ‘ed tifem

                Can you show me?                              Tista’ turini?                       tista turiyni

                Can you help me?                                Tista’ tghinni?                    tista teyni

                I’d like…                                                Nixtieq…                             nishti’

                I’m lost.                                                 Intlift.                                  intlift

NUMBERS

                0                              xejn                         sheyn

                1                              wiehed                    wihed

                2                              tnejn                       tneyn

                3                              tlieta                       tlita

                4                              erbgha                    erba

                5                              hamsa                     hamsa                                                                  

                6                              sitta                         sitta

                7                              sebgha                     seba

                8                              tmienja                    tminya

                9                              disgha                      disa

                10                            ghaxra                     ashra

SEASONS

                spring                    ir-rebbiegha                       ir rebbiya

                summer                is-sajf                                   is sayf

                autumn                 il-harifa                                il harifa

                winter                   ix-xitwa                                ish shitwa

MONTHS

                January                jannar                                   yannar

                February              frar                                       frar

                March                   marzu                                   martsu

                April                      april                                      april

                May                       mejju                                    meyu

                June                      ġunju                                     junyu

                July                        lulju                                      lulyu

                August                  awissu                                   awissu

                September           settembru                            settembru

                October                 ottubru                                ottubru

                November            novembru                           novembru

                December             dicembru                            dichembru

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