"To students of Sicilian history, the case of Malta, a dependency of Sicily until 1530, is particularly illuminating because it presents them with the development of an arrested phase in the process of massive social change that transformed the human face of Sicily in the centuries following the Norman Conquest.1 In Malta, the broad cultural and religious transformations that characterized Sicily at this time were all achieved. However, the linguistic renewal was never completed, with the result that the Maltese, who until relatively recently used Italian as their main cultural language, still speak as their mother tongue a vernacular which is none other than the natural development of the Arabic once peculiar to Sicily. Malta is to Sicily what the Gaeltacht (or Irish-speaking fringe of the west and south coasts) is to a now largely anglicized Ireland: the repository of an older, marginalized linguistic tradition."