One of the greatest things about Malta is that the majority of people are bilingual, and that is something to be proud of. But, have you ever realised that when Maltese people get together the English sort of… fizzles out?
Everyone who lives in Malta but doesn’t speak Maltese knows that this is exactly how every conversation pans out:
1. Your accent instantly gives away that you’re gonna cause problems
I’d like to apologise for my presence here, and for forcing you to translate literally every joke you make.
2. The group start out polite, and help out by speaking in English
This has started out great, thank God!
3. Eventually they’ll give up, and you panic as you notice the English is fading away
Are they aware this is happening? Should I say something?
4. Cue the sudden switch to a hilarious Maltese bit… mid-anecdote
It starts in English but then out of nowhere it changes to Maltese. Everyone else is still engaged but you have been left behind.
5. You start worry that everyone is arguing
Should I intervene? What’s happened? I thought everyone here was friends?
6. Suddenly everyone bursts into laughter… so you laugh too
You laugh anyway, but your response time is three seconds delayed. The shock of realising that this is just how people speak to each other has caught you off guard. But it’s too late – you’ve drawn attention to yourself now.
7. You bow your head and hope that no one questions your joy
But you still realise at least one person in the group has picked up on just how fake that laugh was.
8. All hope is lost – you’re asked why you’re laughing
You can try to justify it by claiming you could work out what was going on, but that probably won’t work.
9. You attempt to distract them by asking what the story was about
They’ll never know your real motive is to move the conversation away from you and your ridiculousness and get back into the group.
10. You completely kill any humour left in the story by forcing the teller to translate it
This tactic always puzzles them, and you’ll see a look of disappointment cloud their eyes as they explain that “it’s much funnier in Maltese”
11. You start to get paranoid that they are talking about you
Was that my name I just heard? Cause it sounded like my name you know.
12. You sacrifice your pride to be re-included in the group: ‘Teach me some words in Maltese’
AKA “let’s all laugh at how shit I am at pronouncing things.”
That’s fine – if the only way back in is to become the dancing monkey, then so be it.
Bonus: You spend the whole time wishing you spoke Maltese
Speaking Maltese just seems like an amazing time. The swear words are funnier, and stories are (apparently) better. You tell yourself that later you’ll try take some lessons, but you also realise it’s probably easier to work on your fake laugh and interested nod.