Maltese Genesis rewritten as Arabic

Monday, December 10, 2012

Found something interesting from Wordreference in 2006, a discussion on Maltese vs. Arabic (mutual intelligibility and similarities) with nothing too controversial: Maltese is not simply a dialect of Arabic but does strongly resemble Arabic in Tunisia, etc. etc.

On the third page (the one the link goes to) though a moderator has taken a passage from Maltese Genesis and rewritten it in Arabic (I've rearranged it to put the two closer together):

Fil-bidu Alla ħalaq is-sema u l-art:
في البدو الله خلق السما والأرط (أرض)

u kienet l-art tahwid u baħħ; u d-dlam kien fuq wicc l-abbissi u fuq wicc l-ibħra kien jittajjar l-ispirtu ta' Alla.
وكانت الأرط تهويد وبحّ والضلام (ظلام) كان فوق وتش (وجه) الأبسّي (الوهدة) وفوق وجه الأبحرة كان يتطيّر الإسبيرتو (الروح) تاالله (تاع الله) .

U qal Alla: ̋Ha jkun id-dawl.̏ U d-dawl sar.
وقال الله: ها يكون الضول (الضوء) والضول صار.

U ra Alla d-dawl li kien tajjeb. U Alla fired id-dawl mid-dlam.
   ورا الله اللي (إنه) كان طيب. والله فرد الضول مالضلام

U d-dawl Alla semmieh jum, u d-dlam sejjahlu lejl. U dalam u sebah - L-ewwel jum.
 والضول الله سماه يوم والضلام صيّحله ليل. وضلم وصبح -الأول يوم.

On a related note, here's a pdf file entitled A Comparative Study of Some Semantic Differences Between Maltese and Koranic Arabic. In spite of their similarities it looks like there is a near endless supply of false friends between the two. The Wordreference thread also had this note:

(Interesting I thought that they use the verb صيّح to "call" سمّى whereas in Arabic it's only to shout or scream .
However it demonstrates that in Maltese you can often write a sentence which is mostly Arabic, or you can write one which is mostly Romance. I could re-write that paragraph from Genesis using many more Romance words if I wanted. That stylistic flexibility is very interesting in this language, and choosing from what stock you populate your sentences postures your utterance in different ways.


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