How to say Magician in Maltese by a Maltese Magician

What is the proper word for a magician in Malta? If you wish to learn how to say Magician in Maltese, then read the following article, where I explain some terms for the Maltese translation of magician.

Even as a Maltese magician, I’ve never actually had a proper answer to this question. This is because the answer is not as straightforward as it may be. So how do you say Magician in Maltese and would you want to use the proper word after reading the following?

maltese magicianPeople in Malta refer to a magician simply as ‘magician’, often pronouncing the word as ‘maj-jix-in’. There are a few others who simply refer to a magician in Maltese as ‘tal-magiks’, translated to ‘of the magics’. However, the proper word in Maltese is, ‘Saħħar‘. However people do not actually use this word and I too have my reservations about using it, and I will explain why through this article.

On one hand it makes sense that people do not use the proper word Saħħar, because locals associate the Maltese word with someone who performs ‘Magick’ as in Occult and not Magic as in Entertainment. Saħħar can also translate to ‘Wizard’ but it is not very common for people to associate Saħħar with the latter. To fix this problem, people started to refer to a magician or magical entertainer as ‘Buzzulottist’ or ‘Buzzulottista’ pronounced as you can read them and used depending on Maltese sentence structure. However, the actual meaning of this alternative word is actually ‘someone who plays tricks (or more likely jokes) on people’, which does not really translate well when one thinks of it.

As an artiste, who provides magic displays for entertainment purposes, I’d rather be referred to as ‘Tal-Magiks’ than to ‘Buzzulottista’. Saħħar wouldn’t be bad either, that is if people could associate it with the word ‘Wizard’. As a matter of fact, I consider myself more of a wizard of magic through my creativity and capability of capturing the imagination of people with my artistic and entertaining display of magic. But I deter from calling myself Saħħar, the actual word for a magician in Maltese, for the reason mentioned above. Even translating ‘Maltese magician‘ would sound rather peculiar if using the proper word, as it would be ‘Saħħar Malti’. 

Where does the word Saħħar originate from?

Like many Maltese words, saħħar is one of those Maltese terms inherited from the Arabic language. In Arabic, it is written as such سَحَّار‎ (saḥḥār) and pronounced with the IPA(key): /saħˈħaːr/. You can use the word to describe a magician, a wizard, or a sorcerer. Like most Maltese words, that describe persons or things there are two terms that slightly defer signifying male or female. ‘Saħħar’ is the male form of the word whereas ‘saħħara’ is the feminine term. It turns out the Maltese language inherits around a third of its words from a type of Arabic that was spoken by settlers of the island in the mid-11th century. As a matter of fact, Maltese sounds like an Arabic dialect mixed with English, French, and Italian-sounding words. We mention this because it makes sense that the word for Magician in Maltese is ‘Saħħar’, an Arabic dialect, and would refer more likely to a wizard or sorcerer rather than a magician as an entertainer.  This is due to the timeline where people living throughout the mid-11th century were probably not performing magic as a form of entertainment but were most likely using tricks to convey the possession of supernatural powers.

Magician In Different Languages

I’ve been enriched with how people relate to me in their own language across the world since I have been lucky to have performed magic in several countries since the year 2000. In Mexico and Spain, I was called ‘Mago’, the proper word for a magician. But it is funny how the same word, related to the same subject, can mean a completely different thing in another country. For instance, in Italy, the word ‘Mago’ is used for someone who performs ‘Magick’ as in the Occult, or for other purposes except entertainment. Therefore in Italy, people call me a ‘Pestigaggore’, which actually means ‘a person who provides Prestige’. I’ve been performing in Dubai, Qatar, and other places like Tunis and Turkey. There they simply call me ‘Saħħar‘ which is the same word as in Malta. Actually, it must have been from there that the Maltese word for a magician was inherited. In India they call people like me a ‘Jadoo”. This is short for ‘jadoo wallah‘ which is the proper term for a magician or conjurer. I am fond of how I am called a ‘Magicien’ in places where they speak French, such as Belgium and Tunis. When I was performing in Norway, they called me a ‘Magiker’, I do not mind the sound of it either. In Germany, they call me a ‘Zauberer’ and in China I was the ‘魔术师’ pronounced as ‘muh·jhih·shuhn’. In England, Ireland and Wales they just called me the magician, even though the proper word in Welsh is ‘Dewin’, or so I was told.

Brian Rolè

Brian Rolè is an active international Maltese magician and illusionist. He was born on Malta’s sister island Gozo in 1972 and became a full-time professional

Call Me A Magician or Maltese Magician In Any Language But Call Me 🙂

People may call me a magician in any language they wish to; I do not mind it and find it a fascinating way to learn about magic. That is why I look forward to meeting people from across the world, whether I perform in their country or I meet them while performing in Malta or Gozo. Luckily my shows in hotels around the island as well as that in my magic theatre, The Chamber of Mysteries, enables me to meet several people coming from across the globe.

Should you wish to book me for your event in Malta, Gozo, or anywhere in the world, just get in touch with me and I will be happy to help you choose the right product or package that will suit your needs.

This article was written by the Maltese Magician Brian Role’ on the 22nd of May 2022
Brian Role` is Malta’s leading magician, a member of The Magic Circle, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, IBM Ring 202 Malta The Society of American Magicians and The International Magicians’ Society.
You can visit his official website here  –  www.BrianRole.com

magician in maltese

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Do You Want To Learn Magic?

I am often asked what is the best way to learn magic as a beginner. Most youngsters use video nowadays to teach them magic. While this is a great way to ensure that your moves are correct, video tends to make most viewers lazy and uncreative. I like recommending an easy beginner’s magic book to start off with. Books allow one’s mind to imagine enabling the reader to be more creative with their performance. Videos, while highly visual and easy to follow, may lead the viewer to simply copy the instructions without adding their own originality to them.

Lately, many youngsters turn to Youtube and other social media to learn magic. While this is the most accessible and easiest way to learn something, it does not necessarily mean that they are learning correctly from the right people. Unfortunately, many of these ‘tutorial’ videos found on these social sites are made by amateurs as young as 10 or even younger. These usually are not teaching anything new or significant. On the other hand, they take other people’s creations and ideas and unfortunately teach you the trick incorrectly and unethically.  Whatever you do, stay away from these videos as those who publish them are only looking for more views and likes and are not interested, not qualified, and not authorised to teach you the correct methods.

Listen to my words, and start with a book. The Practical Encyclopaedia of Magic by Nicholas Einhorn is a great magic book for beginners and children, who want to become a magician. Those looking for a little bit more may find that Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic by Mark Wilson is more appealing. Both books give you a good idea about the concept of performing magic, teaching you how to be creative and original.

Once you read some books and really start getting into magic, then joining a magic club in your area may be a good idea. There you may meet other magicians, some with years of experience who can guide you with your magic and suggest more material for you. Get in touch with me should you want to know which is the closest and best magic club in your area.

Article Information

The information in this article is partly researched through the following sources:
Regarding the Maltese language : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_language
Regarding the word Saħħar: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sa%C4%A7%C4%A7ar

Further Reading:
Malta’s Arab Heritage: https://www.arabamerica.com/maltas-arab-heritage/
More on the Maltese language: https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2015/11/23/where-the-maltese-language-comes-from