"The Maltese people" or "The Maltese language"
The Maltese people are ethnically a group of Southern Italians (from Sicily) who went across to the islands of Malta and settled there, but with genetic influences over time from the Spanish, French, and Greek populations.
The Maltese language is one of the languages spoken by these people. In the past, Italian was the official language of Malta, but when the English took over Malta in the 1930s, English almost completely replaced Italian in everyday speech (although television and most other media remains in Italian). However, in addition to this, the Maltese language (a mixture of Southern Italian dialects and other various mediterranean tongues) was used. In recent years, the Maltese language has rapidly began to decline, with more and more people there speaking English as the language of choice. Maltese is a "working" language of the European Union, but is not given the same status (yet) as the other languages, simply due to the shortage of people who speak it. Its status is in some ways compareable to that of Welsh in Wales, where English has gradually displaced its usage. During an average Maltese conversation, English, Italian, and Maltese will all be intermixed without a second thought. This process is known as "code-switching". In doing this, the Maltese people are being "imprinted" with English and Italian words, and are entering them into the Maltese language. In this way, the Maltese language will eventually become an Italianized form of English if current trends continue. For example, the Maltese word "Bibljoteka" (the 'j' in Maltese is pronounced as an 'i' by the way, so it's like "biblioteka") means library. However, the Maltese have joined the English word for this - Library - with an Italian ending - "eria", to form the "new Maltese" word, "Libreria", which is a combination of Italian and English. The word "Libreria" has now displaced "bibljoteka" almost completly; so much so that the younger generations often do not even realise that "bibljoteka" is a Maltese word. This trend seems to be continuing throughout much of the Maltese language. There are two main different dialects of Maltese. One is this "Italo-Anglicized" one, with italian and english influences growing every day, and is spoken by the rich or those living in urban areas. Those who live on the countryside however (not that there is much of it anymore in Malta), speak a "lesser" form of Maltese, which sounds more like some of the Eastern Mediterranean languages rather than anything else. However, this "lesser" Maltese is in decline, as the other is increasingly considered 'Standard'.
*I can speak Maltese
*The Maltese word for Maltese is "Malti"
Eeyore, since mommy got arrested at the PETA rally she is going to need your legal help, now be a good Maltese and come and bail mommy out of jail.