Maltese Phrases You Just Can’t Translate.

Our beloved bulbul is having it rough but took time out from his shitty job and PhD woes to call my attention to this wonderful post by Max Dingli; never mind the silly “untranslatable” framing (I wish that meme would dry up and blow away), these are just world-class phrases that make me want to learn Maltese. Sample:

1. “M’hawnx min ibul ma saqajk!”

Literal translation: “There is nobody to urinate against your legs.”

What it means: “You are unparalleled in the field of whatever we are discussing”

Example of use: “Sewwejtlek l-Escort, Fred.” (“I’ve fixed your Escort, Fred.)

“King int, m’hawnx min ibul ma saqajk!” (“You’re a king. There is nobody to urinate against your legs.”

Great gifs, too. Now go forth and conquer, bulbul! Illegitimi non carborundum!


  1. Dmitry Rubinstein says

    Speaking of picturesque excrement-related phrases, there’s a Russian one that literally says that one wouldn’t shit in the same field as [the subject of the conversation]. Kind of a stronger version of the Englishman’s reluctance to touch something or someone with a ten feet pole.

  2. What’s the phrase in Russian? I know не сесть рядом срать, which means pretty much the same thing, but not the “field” version.

  3. George Grady says

    From Phrases from Grazlik You Just Can’t Translate:

    Gorminto forsit timonto

    I’d tell you what it means in English, but…

    Hmmm. Maybe the title should have been Maltese Phrases You Can’t Just Translate.

  4. Dmitry Rubinstein says

    Well, pretty much that. На одном поле с ним срать не сяду.

  5. Спасибо!

  6. Then there is the 11 foot 6 inch (350 cm) pole reserved for handling things you wouldn’t touch ….

  7. It’s not actually Russian, but for me the canonical pole is thirty-nine and a half feet (and voiced by Boris Karloff).

  8. My renewed thanks for all y’all’s support 🙂
    The top one on the list has got to be “Mela żobb, Sur Kappillan!” not only because of the lexical items it contains, but also because it can be translated verbatim into Slovak and result in a perfectly cromulent phrase: “Ale kokot, pán farár!” The Slovak meaning, of course, is different – it basically means “No fucking way.”
    This one of those instances where a curseword (whether one referring to genitalia/sex or one tied to defecation) is used first an negative indefinite pronoun (“Kokot/piču/hovno robí” = “He/she doesn’t do dick/cunt/shit”) and then simply as a negator. Huh, I wonder…. *runs of to do corpus search*

  9. There must be some background to “Mela żobb, Sur Kappillan!” I refuse to believe that “Therefore penis, Mr Parish Priest!” sprang into existence fully-formed as a way to say “You bet!”

  10. Ihm kann keiner ans Bein pissen = He’s got all his bases covered, nobody can stop him.

  11. What Stu said.
    Also: der kann man nicht so leicht ans Bein pinkeln.

    (slightly less rude)

  12. Alon Lischinsky says

    Ħrajt barra l-vaż has an almost perfect equivalent in Spanish mear fuera del {tarro|tiesto}.


  1. […] Hat notes untranslatable Maltese […]

  2. […] “M’hawnx min ibul ma saqajk!” […]

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