2 Aug 2011

Malta: Charming, Mediterranean and .. Arabian

From the sky it just looks all blue. Beautifully blue. The sea is almost the only thing you see. Then you suddenly see lots of containers.. It must be the port. Seconds later you see the houses, all very low rise, white and beige, and very much Mediterranean style.

I am in Malta. Upon arrival I was excited about using my rusty Italian.. But the immigration officer would only answer in English! A family around me was speaking what I first thought was Hebrew. Wrong! It is Maltese !

"Aamel tahti", I thought I heard the driver say. I laughed. He said : "do you understand?" I replied : "well you should run to the bathroom, shouldn't you?" He looked embarrassed!  

The phrase he said meant : "pee myself" in colloquial Arabic, my dialect of Arabic.

"Kif inti" in Maltese is : how are you?
"Ghandi flous"  is : I have money
ghandek, ghandhom, ghandna = you have, they have, we have

I expected any Arab influence here to be from the Maghreb (North African Arab countries). But it sounded like a mix between different Arabic dialects from both Maghreb and Mashreq. 

Actually, Maltese language is a mix of Italian, Arabic and English.

Bonjour Bonsoir Ciao Grazie : are also Maltese words

Walking around Mdina, the old city, it feels like Casablanca. Or is it Rabat? Or may be an Italian city? "Mdina" in Arabic means : city. The alleyways are absolutely fabulous. Malta has it's own "zangas"! 

I am told Malta has just 400 thousand inhabitants but receives up to 1.5 million tourists. No wonder .. This place is really charming and definitely worth a visit. 

A sign reads Triq Mesquita. "Triq" is Arabic for Road. "Mesquita" is Spanish for mosque and originally taken from Arabic - although in today's Spanish it is "mezquita". But in Maltese a mosque is moschea, like in Italian. What a beautiful cultural mix!

People here look so Mediterranean. They could be Portuguese or Greek.. Some of the men also look a bit Arabic. And everyone is just as loud as an Arab. 

Not only could I live here .. I could quit my job and study this fascinating cocktail of cultural influences. I could write about it or about anything else, such as the beautiful sunset ! 

The sun was setting.. A very young couple was walking hand in hand in an alleyway. He looked at her lovingly. Was he saying to her: "inhobbok", which is Maltese for "I love you"? Despite clear Latin influence in Malta, when it comes to love, it is Arabic that dominates the language! 

It suddenly struck me that I was out of 2 revolutions (Egypt and Libya) and into another type of passion, the passion for just life in a peaceful and inspiringly beautiful place -- at least for a day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even if Malta's language has semitic roots,MALTA IS NOT ARABIC!