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Author writing book to preserve Zejtun's dialect

The first ever book in a Maltese dialect from beginning to end is being written by a man who hopes to capture id-djalett Żejtuni before it is too late.

Lino Psaila, soon to hit 70, said although some still speak in the dialect, he is afraid it is dying because the younger generations speak only in standard Maltese.

Lieli ta’ Keterin will not be Mr Psaila’s first book in Maltese.

He is also working on the fourth edition of Il-Baħar Rasu Iebsa – a collection of researched accounts about Maltese fishermen, mostly from Marsaxlokk and Żejtun, who lost their lives at sea.

Talking about his new book, Mr Psaila spoke in the Żejtun dialect with pride. Every dialect has its distinguishing peculiarities, and when it comes to the Żejtuni one, it weighs down on a short vowel “u” (as in skula) and a long “e” (as in spiritire).

He told of Sicilians who centuries ago found refuge in Malta and settled in what is today known as Żejtun.

This settlement left its mark on the dialect, especially in unique words like steringe (for slingshot – probably from stirare) and manuċċa (for kite – probably from mano and uccello).

Fishermen from Żejtun eventually settled down in Marsaxlokk and that is why the two villages’ dialects are similar, Mr Psaila explained.

Lino, as Mr Psaila is known, spoke to Sarah Carabott - see video.

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