Two young Englishmen have bust the myth that learning Maltese is difficult and have succeeded in holding a fluent conversation after just one week on the island.
Twins Matthew and Michael Youlden, 32, do have an edge in mastering the Semitic and Romance elements of Maltese – they already speak nine languages: English, Irish Gaelic, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Catalan.
Matthew also speaks Dutch, Afrikaans and Faroese, while Michael can converse in Hungarian and Albanian. They have now added Maltese to their list, following a recent one-week visit where they listened to the local radio and TV stations, spoke to the locals and read books in Maltese.
When they were not learning the language, they ate sausage rolls and fish, and drank Kinnie, they said, conversing easily in Maltese over Skype.
They played down the belief that it was difficult to learn Maltese.
“We think it’s a myth and the same can be said about other languages. When it comes to learning a language, we think you should always focus on the easy stuff – the things you can relate to due to similarities in your own language or languages you already know, and Maltese is a great example of that.
“It’s also a great example for Europe – integrating so many different languages into one.”
“It’s also very interesting from a linguistic point of view because it’s the only Semitic language native to Europe. It’s also interesting given the mix of an essentially Arabic base with Romance (Italian, French) and Germanic (English) vocabulary.”