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Cottonera dialect

Cottonera dialect
RegionThree Cities and surrounding area
Native speakers
About 10,000[citation needed] (2014)
Maltese alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3

One of the dialects of the Maltese language is the Cottonera dialect, known to locals as Kottoneran.[2][3] Many inhabitants of the Three Cities speak the local dialect, and thus roughly amount to 10,000 speakers.

The most distinctive feature of this dialect is its treatment of vowels i and u after the silent consonant . In Standard Maltese, and other dialects, these vowels are realized as diphthongs after . However, in most situations, they remain monophthongs in the Cottonera dialect.

The vowel I after Għ

The vowel i after remains an /i/ as in the English fleece, instead of diphthongizing to /ai/ as in the English price.

English Standard Maltese Cottonera dialect
my/mine tiegħi




he curses jidgħi




with me miegħi




This dialectal change does not occur with the words għid (easter), erbgħin (forty), sebgħin (seventy), and disgħin (ninety).

The local poet from Senglea, Dwardu Cachia (1858–1907), formed part of the Xirka Xemija in 1882, an organization which formulated one of the first standardized versions of written Maltese.[4] Moreover, Cachia wrote a poem about this very alphabet, in which he made use of the 4-line rhyme. Coincidentally, the ABCB rhyme of the second stanza only works if read in his Cottonera dialect.[5]

The vowel U after Għ

The vowel u after remains an /u:/ as in the English goose, instead of diphthongizing to /au/ as in the English mouth.

English Standard Maltese Cottonera dialect
his tiegħu




sent (passive participle) mibgħut




a piece of wood għuda




we can/could nistgħu




we sell nbigħu




with him miegħu




The vowel E after Għ

Although in contemporary Maltese (21st Century), the combination għe sometimes produces an /a/ vowel, the Cottonera dialect has widely kept the /e~i/ realization comparable to Standard Maltese.

English Standard Maltese Cottonera dialect Contemporary Maltese
she remained baqgħet



[ˈbɐʔɛt] / [ˈbɐqɪt]



she fell waqgħet



[ˈwɐʔɛt] / [ˈwɐqɪt]



he tired them għejjiehom






The consonant Q

In Cottonera, most notably among the eldest demographic of Senglea, the consonant q is still pronounced as a voiceless uvular plosive /q/, as its counterpart in Classical Arabic. This sound survived in Modern Maltese only through the Cottonera dialect, instead of being replaced with the Standard glottal stop /ʔ/. However, it is important to note that it is severely in decline.[6][7][8]

English Standard Maltese Cottonera dialect

(archaic pronunciation)

never qatt




he told me qalli




we reside noqogħdu




artichokes qaqoċċ




poverty faqar




he reached laħaq





  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Sciriha, Lydia (1997). Id-djalett tal-Kottonera: analizi socjolingwistika (in Maltese). Daritama Publications. ISBN 978-99909-68-26-2.
  3. ^ "Linguistic lustre - The Malta Independent". Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti". Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  5. ^ Camilleri, Saviour (2010). "Dwardu Cachia – Kittieb Senglean (1858–1907)" (PDF). Marija Bambina Senglea Festa 2010.
  6. ^ Vella, Olvin; Mifsud, Manwel (2006). Kollu Malti: program 9 (in Maltese). L-Università ta' Malta.
  7. ^ "Il-Birgu". Malti. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  8. ^ "Isma'". Malti. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
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Cottonera dialect
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