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Żejtun dialect

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Żejtun dialect
Żejtuni dialect
RegionŻejtun and surrounding area
Native speakers
About 12,000 (2020)[1]
Maltese alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Żejtun in Malta

One of the dialects of the Maltese language is the Żejtun dialect (Standard Maltese: Djalett taż-Żejtun or Żejtuni; Żejtun Maltese: Żejtewni). This dialect is used by many of the inhabitants of Żejtun and in other settlements around this city such as Marsaxlokk, and spoken by about 12,000 people.[1]

The following three words are examples; there are many more that make it into the list of vocabulary found in this dialect.

  • For 'kite' the Standard Maltese word is tajra, but in this dialect it is found as manuċċa.
  • For 'foggy weather' the Standard Maltese word is ċpar, but in this dialect it is found as ċlambu.
  • For 'slingshot' the Standard Maltese word is żbandola, but in this dialect it is found as steringa.

All the vocal letters in this dialect possess a liquid versatility which allows the position, emphasis and tone of the vowels to change without any distinct rule; in some words the consonant letters are found to change as well. Such variations in the dialect are innate to native speakers.[citation needed]

The vowel A

The vowel a in the Żejtun dialect changes into /u/ or /e/. For example:

English Maltese Żejtun dialect
newspaper gazzetta gezzette
meat laħam leħem
fat xaħam xeħem
coal faħam feħem
water ilma ilme
burner spiritiera spiritiere
home dar dur

This change happens to roughly all of the words that end in the vowel a, but when the syllable structure does not allow the vowel a to change into e, such as in the Maltese equivalent of potato, i.e. patata, a different vowel has to be used to elongate the syllable. Here, the word does not become petete but changes into û, becoming patûta.

The vowel E

The vowel e changes into the vowels /a/ or also /i/. For example:

English Maltese Żejtun dialect
wild selvaġġ salvaġġ
seriousness serjetà sirjitu
seminary seminarju siminurju
when meta mite

The vowel O

The vowel o in this dialect changes into u, however it demands an element of phonetical emphasis to differentiate this changed u from the previous one. In philology such emphasis requires an accent, hence it is notated as ù. Example:

English Maltese Żejtun dialect
school skola skùla
wheel rota rùta
pan borma bùrma
sack xkora xkùra
corner rokna rùkna
roll romblu rùmblu

This change occurs in many other words that have o as their first vowel.

The vowel U

When the last vowel of the word is u, it changes into the diphthong /ow/. Sometimes the u is changed into ew. Example:

English Maltese Żejtun dialect
ship vapur vapowr
Mr. sinjur sinjowr
stick bastun bastown
vase vażun vażown
money flus flews
fish ħut ħewt
shop ħanut ħenewt


  1. ^ a b Pascale, Natalie (2020). Maltese Dialects: the Effects of Globalization and Changing Attitudes on Malta's Linguistic Diversity. Malta: omertaa. p. 14.
  2. ^ Martine Vanhove, « De quelques traits prehilaliens en maltais », in: Peuplement et arabisation au Maghreb cccidental : dialectologie et histoire, Casa Velazquez - Universidad de Zaragoza (1998), pp.97-108
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Żejtun dialect
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