Communicating identities: A sociology of house names in Malta

Authors: Godfrey Baldacchino, Kylie Aquilina, Enoch John Camilleri, Zindzi De Barra, Amy Galea, Aideen Ledwidge Lanigan, Elaine Sciberras, Gabrielle Spiteri, Rowena Sultana, Diane Zammit

Corresponding: Godfrey Baldacchino (

Keywords: House names, Identities, Malta, Secularisation, Sociology, St Joseph, Languages

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2023.2.03

Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 11

19,683 house names from a convenience sample of ten localities across the island of Malta were collected and analysed in late 2022, with the aim of teasing out how they communicate social identities. Trends in multilingualism and secularisation were particularly explored, from two sets of house names that represent different historical epochs, one dating from 1977 and one from 1977-2022. Results, secured from the ten localities studied, suggest that: (1) English remains by far the preferred language for naming houses, followed by Maltese; (2) house names that involve two or more languages have increased; (3) house names that relate to the religious or sacred have declined (from around 16% to 10%); and (4) in spite of evident secularisation in house-naming practices, the most common house name is ‘St Joseph’.

Download Article: