A course on Maltese language is being taught at the Institute of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the University of Heidelberg, the first such course to be taught at the oldest university in Germany.

The 12 students enrolled in the course, Einführung in die Maltesische Sprache (Introduction to the Maltese Language), are studying Maltese within the ambit of their studies of Semitic linguistics.

This is the first time the university’s Institute of Semitic Studies is offering students the oppor­tunity to familiarise themselves with the Maltese language.

The course is taught by Alexander Borg, who aims at enabling students to read Maltese literary texts and achieving fluency.

The course defines the historical continuities of Maltese with Arabic in phon­o­logy, morphology, syntax and semantics. The lexical affiliations of Maltese within Arabic and other Semitic languages will be presented on the basis of Prof. Borg’s recent research.

His present research, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is a project on the contemporary Arabic verna­culars spoken by the Bedouin tribes in different parts of the Arab world.

“I am working on the very first dictionary of Bedouin Arabic in the history of Arabic language research,” he said. Once published, this work will provide a new basis for reconstructing the early linguistic history of Arabic.

The profile of Maltese as a Semitic language has been thoroughly investigated by German scholars. One of the first German researchers who took interest in Maltese was the renowned Heidelberg theologian and humanist, Sebastian Münster, founder of Semitic studies in Germany.

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