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Friday, August 11, 2006

Translating English into Maltese

The first online automatic English to Maltese translator programmed by Ian Vella is located here. More on the Maltese language at Wikipedia:

..It is estimated that 60% of the vocabulary is Semitic, the rest being Romance. Zammit (2000) found that 40% of a sample of 1,820 Quranic Arabic roots were found in Maltese (a lower percentage than found in Moroccan (58%) and Syrian Arabic (72%)). Usually words expressing basic concepts and ideas are of Arabic origin, whereas more 'learned' words, having to do with new ideas, objects, government, law, education, art, literature, and general learning, are derived from Sicilian. (These learned Sicilian words are usually identical or very similar to their Standard Italian counterparts, with minor differences such as unstressed u and i instead of o and e.) Thus words like raġel man, mara woman, tifel child, dar house, xemx sun, sajf summer, are of Arabic origin, while words like skola school, gvern government, repubblika republic, re king, natura nature, pulizija police, ċentru center, teatru theater, differenza difference, are derived from Sicilian.

The perverse result of this highly uneven distribution of loanwords throughout the language is that a speaker of the loanword-source language (in this case Romance language speakers) can understand, for instance, the main page of the Maltese Wikipedia or know the subject of a newspaper article, but cannot understand even such basic things as The man is in the house. This situation resembles that of a monolingual English speaker, who will often be able to guess the content of something in French if it's formal, academic writing but not understand much simpler sentences...
English - Maltese translator

Blogger wwwitchie said...

Now this is a very interesting project. I believe I know of someone else working on a similar project... Incidentally does Ian Vella have an email address? I've already found a word missing from the dictionary :-) If you know him, maybe you could suggest that he open an email address for word suggestions. 

Saturday, August 12, 2006 5:58:00 PM
Blogger Robert Micallef said...

thanks for the note, Sharon. I will ask Ian if I can post his address on the blog..and will forward your suggestion


Saturday, August 12, 2006 9:37:00 PM
Anonymous Silly English Bloke! said...

mmmm ... quite good, I am desperate to learn Maltese and have, by sheer coincidence, just spent more than £30 (UK) on software to help me. As I am bringing my business plan to Malta I thought learning some of the language in my rare spare-time would help me, be interesting and above all polite for Maltese as well.

So I was enthusiastic to find your story here --- sadly the first few words I added in were not found. Still good luck to him anyway (and very informative blog BTW which I've now bookmarked).

Ciao - gratzi hofna! 

Sunday, August 13, 2006 7:36:00 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the diacrtical marks? I do appreciate Ian's efforts but have to comment that his project leaves MUCH to be desired. Many words missing, no synonyms and other shortcomings. Hope Ian will be working on his project more thoroughly. 

Sunday, August 13, 2006 10:03:00 PM
Blogger Robert Micallef said...

Ian has emailed me to say that a contact form will be available on his site. Do send in your comments or suggestions 

Monday, August 14, 2006 12:37:00 PM
Blogger Kenneth said...

It looks very very shabby IMHO, and you could download all the words from the page's source and save them in a local text file on your PC anyway, saving you the hassle of visiting the site and connecting to the internet.

There's nothing quite like Joseph Aquilina's Maltese-English and English-Maltese dictionary volumes.

Now if anyone can make them available online (copyright issues sorted out and everything), then that's another thing. 

Monday, August 14, 2006 1:20:00 PM

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