We’ve often spoken about some of the plight of English speakers in Malta, but when speaking Maltese there are some issues everyone always has.
1. Left and right
When an English-speaking person is giving directions, or trying to understand them, check their lips and you’ll see them muttering “Lemin is not left. Lemin is not left. Lemin is not left…” over and over.
2. Numbers over 20
They’re simple enough to start off with, but once you pass 21, the first and last numbers swap over and that’s when things get complicated. Erbgħa u ħamsin? 45? 54? 4050?!
If you thought numbers were hard, how does four of them in a row sound? 1565 in English is just grouping the first and last two. Fifteen. Sixty-five. In Maltese you’re looking at elf, ħames mija, ħamsa u sittin. So many stages to totally fuck up.
4. The gender of things
The tell-tale sign Maltese isn’t someone’s first language is when they power through a sentence not noticing they’ve mixed up the ġens of half the words. And it’s usually on the more ‘complicated’ ones… like xemx being female.
5. Anything remotely idiomatic in nature
“Taf x’jgħidu hux… il-ġarra ġejja u sejra, fl-aħħar tinkiser”
“Wait what, you broke mummy’s vase?”
6. The compass
Names like Punent and Tramuntana are fair game, but why isn’t there a joining-two-we-already-know-to-make-a-new-one system? Northeast? Nope it’s Grigal. Learn.
7. Noon, 12:30pm, 1:00pm and 1:30pm
If Maltese comes naturally to you then you’ll never know the nofs and siegħa complications the middle of the day brings. Nofsinhar, in-nofsiegħa, is-siegħa and is-siegħa u nofs. You can’t tell us that’s not overly complicated.