The present paper aims at evaluating linguistic effects of contact-induced changes on Maltese throughout the centuries, as well as describing variational patterns within its contemporary diasystem. For centuries multilingualism has shaped the Maltese sociolinguistic space, determining a situation of very intense contact; as a consequence of massive borrowing both lexical and structural levels have been affected. In Maltese morphology (both verb formation and noun derivation and inflection) Italian-Maltese mixed forms have been integrated, attesting the productiveness of Italian-origin derivational morphemes affixed to authoctonous stems. The framework of contact linguistics could allow to describe better innovations within the Maltese system to be regarded as the outcome of a process of linguistic hybridization that has followed three main parallel patterns: restructuring of the Semitic component, Romance-Semitic admixture and development of contact language features. In diachrony, Maltese has progressively distanced from its philo-genetic tradition and its classification within the group of Western Arabic dialects doesn’t seem to be the most suitable one to take into due account its linguistic peculiarities. In synchrony, contemporary Maltese still reveals the constant action of cross-linguistic interference from Italian and English as prestigious models.
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