“Marella/i”

So today I learnt a new word in Maltese which probably isn’t used that often nowadays except for  expressing surprise/frustration and a number of other emotions. “Marella (singular) / Marelli (plural)” is the Maltese equivalent for skein/s.

For some reason, I thought skeins was the technical name for balls of wool but today, after finding some more of the wool I need for a project, my mum asked me whether it was in balls or in skeins (see, I now know the difference!). Since I had never heard the word “marelli” in this context before, I stopped for a few seconds, stared at my mum and said, “What?!” I thought I’d misheard her but she repeated the same thing and needless to say, I was even more confused! She then proceeded to explain what it was and me being a Translation Studies student, I was very pleasantly surprised.

So, we then started to roll them into balls and of course, this is a two-person job! Here is the result:

CIMG2012

As you can see, my dog Nemo wanted to be in the picture also! 🙂

Anyway, we got about 6 balls out of this skein which is more than enough for my project (to be posted much later).

So all this brought me to a theory about today’s use of the word “marelli” in my country  – I think that it came about because doing this ball-rolling job is quite frustrating and tiring. Linguists and linguistic/language teachers or students, what is your take on this? 🙂

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