Giovanni Bonello, “a recently retired, one-time judge on the European Court of Human Rights and gentleman scholar of all things Maltese, which he writes up for a popular audience with widespread curiosity,” according to the reader who sent me the link (thanks, Bruce!), has a fascinating two-part writeup for the Times of Malta: Pietru Pawl Castagna and his quaint Maltese book (about Castagna and his book), Castagna’s idiosyncratic Maltese of 150 years ago (about the language). Bonello says: “It intends to explore what colloquial Maltese sounded like 150 years ago through the pages of the very first full-length book ever published in our national language. It will show what a lot has changed. It will show that a lot has survived.” The book is Malta bil Gzejer Tahha u li Ghadda Min Ghaliha (1865), “what amounts to an encyclopaedia of Malteseness in Maltese” by a man who had written only “a couple of minor stage pieces” in a language with “negligible printed literature to boast of” and “little support and even less respect from the so-called cultured classes.” It’s quite a story; unfortunately, the examples in Maltese aren’t translated, but even so, it’s well worth reading.