If you’re visiting Malta and really want to immerse yourself in the culture, then picking up a few basic Maltese phrases is a great way to make connections with the locals and strike up meaningful conversations.
Maltese is a truly unique language, being the only spoken historical Arabic language to have been Latinised, with a healthy mix of English, Italian, and French influences thrown in for good measure. While it may not be the easiest language to master, we’ve compiled a list of essential and easy-to-remember Maltese phrases that are sure to enhance your experience on the island.
So, before you set off on your sun-soaked adventures, take a few minutes to brush up on these essential Maltese phrases that every traveller should know.
“Iva” and “Le”
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: ee-vah / leh
Let’s start with the basics. “Iva” and “le” simply mean “yes” and “no,” respectively. These two simple phrases can really come in handy in all sorts of situations, whether you’re deciding to take up an offer to try a traditional Maltese dish, or someone is asking if you’re having a good time exploring the island. So, make sure to have these two phrases ready to go in your Maltese arsenal.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: yeck yawj-bock
“Jekk jogħġbok” means “please.” This is a phrase that can come in useful when exploring the vibrant markets or seeking help from friendly locals. So, whether you’re ordering some food or asking for directions, remember to sprinkle some “jekk jogħġbok” into your conversations to make a positive impression on the people you meet.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: grat-see huff-na
And following on from the above, you can simply follow up any request or nice gesture with a “grazzi ħafna” or, in other words, “thank you very much.” This phrase can make someone’s day, especially after receiving assistance or interacting with locals in shops or restaurants.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: moosh prob-leh-ma
“Mhux problema” is a versatile phrase that means “no problem” and can come in handy in a variety of situations. For example, if a waiter apologises for a delay in your meal, you can respond with “mhux problema” to let them know that it’s not a big deal. Or, if someone accidentally bumps into you on the street and says sorry, you can reply with “mhux problema” to show that you’re not upset.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: tit-kel-lem blin-gleez
This useful phrase translates to “Do you speak English?” and can come in handy when exploring the more traditional villages and towns of Malta and Gozo. While many Maltese are fluent in English, showing an effort to speak their native language can go a long way in winning over the locals and experiencing the true Maltese culture.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: sh-yis mek
When you’re travelling around Malta, you’ll soon learn that many Maltese love to strike up conversations with foreigners to make them feel welcome on the island. So, if you want to connect with the locals and make some new friends during your travels, try using the phrase “X’jismek?” which means “What’s your name?”
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: yi-sim-nee
And of course, if you’re asking a local’s name, it’s only fitting that you provide yours in return. So, say it proudly using the Maltese phrase “Jisimni…” which means “My name is…”
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: bon-joo
Maltese people are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, and saying “hello” to strangers on the street is a common practice, especially in village centres. To join in on the friendly vibe, you can use the Maltese phrase “Bonġu,” which means “Good morning.” And of course “Bonġu” can be used to greet anyone in a shop, restaurant, or wherever else you’re visiting until noon.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: chow (like “wow”)
When it’s time to bid farewell, don’t forget to use the Maltese word for goodbye, “Ċaw.” You may already be familiar with the Italian “Ciao,” which has a similar meaning, but in Malta, “Ċaw” is used exclusively for saying goodbye.