Vulgar sexual words in Maltese may not always have had today’s meaning

Academic Michael Spagnol has traced back the meanings of some of the commonly used vulgar words and you will be surprised to know how some have transformed radically

Maltese language website Kelma Kelma has traced back the innocent beginning of some vulgar words
Maltese language website Kelma Kelma has traced back the innocent beginning of some vulgar words

Vulgarity is a hallmark in the everyday use of the Maltese language but the words used may have had a different meaning in the past.

Kelma Kelma, the website dedicated to the beauty of the Maltese language created by academic Michael Spagnol five years ago, has traced back the roots of commonly used vulgar words.

In the latest posting, ‘The story behind vulgar words’, Spagnol draws on historical references to provide a different and playful perspective to words such as ġarretta (foreskin) and għoxx (vagina).

You probably know that in common parlance, għoxx is also used as a description for someone who is incompetent, stupid or a slow-coach.

But according to Spagnol, the Agius de Soldanis dictionary, 250 years ago, included multiple references to għoxx as a bird or animal nest.

Spagnol’s compendium includes other words such as liba (sperm), which in its original meaning referred to the woman’s breast milk before evolving into the male fluid.

For a different take on the vulgar words read Spagnol’s piece here.

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