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Researching Maltese names

Why was I researching Maltese names?

After a month in Cyprus, I realized it wasn’t the right setting for my novel-in-progress, Possession. So, I packed off my characters to Malta, instead. I would be heading there in a few months, but in the meantime, I stated my rewrite—character profiles and histories, for example—and now I needed to rename those characters!

Maltese names are wonderful. Maltese has strong influences from Italian, Sicilian, and English. But it’s a Semitic language. I learned that Maltese is the only Semitic language in the world which is written in Latin characters. Very language-nerdy. I love it! And Maltese names are full of cool sounds and symbols. For example:

Thus arises the question: how much should I employ those cool sounds and unique Maltese symbols? Too much might upset readers, and I don’t want to have a book full of characters whose names readers skip over because they don’t know how to pronounce them. On the other hand, a sprinkling would add flavour and authenticity. What’s the right balance?

I settled on one: our heroine, Ċensa. The cool c in her name is pronounced like ch in chance—as in, by chance, Ċensa is hit on the head by a mysterious box. And that’s where the story begins . . .

#bookresearch #authordilemmas #languagenerd #Malteselanguage

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