Observations on the linguistic epigraphic choice in late antique inscriptions from Malta

By: Maria Domenica Lo Faro

The aim of this paper is to reconsider the Maltese epigraphic material from a linguistic point of view, with an attempt to point out what the specific linguistic choice means within the epigraphic context. Analysing the epigraphic data, it is possible to suppose that in late antiquity the Greek-speaking community in Malta was linked to a Jewish community maybe coming from abroad. Furthermore, a parallel can be established with the south-eastern area in Sicily, where there is evidence for the presence of Jewish burial places in Christian necropoleis, with the preponderance of Greek used as epigraphic language. The choice of Greek for the funerary inscriptions from Malta does not tend to be arbitrary, and might indicate the persistent use of the original language of an immigrant community.