Chinese woman masters Maltese language in six months

She is enamoured of many things Maltese, especially the language.

Jinjing Xu, a Chinese woman who has been living here for six months, learned to speak Maltese in no time at all and now has a desire to teach Maltese in her own country.

“My make is Jinjing. I am in Malta to learn Maltese,” she said.

At first glance you’d think she was a tourist on a visit to the University, but Jinjing is learning Maltese hoping to be able to teach the language in China. “There are many expressions which are similar in Maltese and Chinese. For instance, ‘one foot in the hole’ (‘sieq waħda fil-ħofra’) and ‘what wind brought you here?” (‘x’riħ ġabek hawn?”)

What she finds most challenging and taxing is different meaning of the same verbs. For instance ‘qasam’ – ‘he cut the cake’; he crossed the road; he cut open his head; or the verb ‘qabez’ – to stick up for a person versus to jump on a person.

She loves Maltese bread, and any related idioms go down a treat. For instance “he lost his livelihood” (tilef ħobżu), “he’s not worth his salt” ( ma jiswiex ħobż) it’s not his thing: (mhux ħobż għal snienu and so on. “The phrase I like a lot is “bread and butter” (‘ħobż u sikkina’) which denotes two things that get on very well together, like me and the Maltese language.”

“Words such as “abruptly” (dlonk) and “wisdom” (dehen) fascinate her but the list continues to grow. “The best expression I’ve heard so far which I absolutely loved was ‘ċiċċi beqqi’ and the word for cod ” bakkaljaw”,is also very good.”

Jinjing was given the opportunity to learn the Maltese as a result of collaboration between the University of Malta and Beijing.

The Head of the Maltese Department, Michael Spagnol, said he was surprised that Jinjing mastered the language so quickly.

“Truthfully I did not expect her to learn it so well in such a short time – we are talking about 5/6 months. But she is determined.”

Jinjing talks about her fascination with the Maltese language on the program Insights which airs on TVM on Sunday evening.

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