[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] Malta: Using Maltese in all sectors of society: Protecting our national language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Nov 22 16:18:02 UTC 2014


Using Maltese in all sectors of society: Protecting our national language
 Therese Bonnici Saturday, 22 November 2014, 09:34 Last update: about 7
hours ago

The National Council for Maltese language was established to adopt and
promote a lanuguage society for the benefit and development of the national
language. It was set up to ensure that the language is used in all possible
sectors of society.

The council is also responsible for updating the orthography of our
national language, which has, over the years developed

The council is embarking on projects to ensure that the Maltese language is
more exposed to visitors. "Road signs, formal letters, wedding invitations,
and government web sites - they're all in English. Our language is a huge
part of who we are. We should show it off, and trigger tourists' curiosity
about a small island having its own language. As soon as one enters our
international airport, s/he is welcomed with signs in English. Why can't it
be in both languages?" Prof. Fabri asks.

Although the members of the council are responsible for protecting the
Maltese language, they stress the importance of bilingualism. "Let's be
clear, learning English in the correct manner is equally important. Malta
needs to raise its English proficiency standards to allow for a competitive
edge, one which attracts investment and places us on a global sphere. But
we should protect our national language. In an ideal world, our society
would be exposed to both English and Maltese in the same manner.

"Ideally, one parent speaks to the children in English and the other in
Maltese - that is the perfect model. But one often hears parents trying to
combine both languages, and they do so in the wrong way. That is worse,
because the child is not learning any of the languages adequately. There
needs to be consistency."

The council has also come up with resources, allowing for the promotion of
the Maltese language, including calendars for schools and nursery rhymes in
Maltese. It also offers proof-reading courses and orthography courses for
parents who want to update their skills in order to help out their young
ones with school work.

Ballun Pinġut is a publication that has 930 definitions of football phrases
to help journalists and sport commentators find the best one to describe
the action on the football field. The listed phrases were confirmed by a
group of experts including a referee, a player, a coach, a football
committee member, a fan and a sports journalist.

"We have a tendency to speak in Maltese, but then write in English. School
results show there are writing problems in both languages. Most often there
is a correlation between both. If one is able to write Maltese properly, he
would most often know how to write in English well too. At university,
lecturers know that students hold back from asking questions. Often it is
because they lack the confidence to speak in public, in one language or the
other. We need to ensure that our students are not merely reaching the
benchmark to pass assessments, but that they are able to express their
ideas and work publicly."

The council is also responsible for updating the orthography of our
national language, which has, over the years developed. Technological
advancements have resulted in many English words being loaned and
transformed into new Maltese words. Some being used on local media have
caused controversy, however members of the council note that it is not
being exposed enough to the Maltese Language that causes this. "You hear
chefs using English words for ingredients and preparation methods, but we
have Maltese words for all of those."

The council has now embarked on a digital strategy project, allowing for
the creation of a Maltese dictionary and a spell-check. Apps on the IOS
system will also have a Maltese keyboard.

In a survey on identity carried out last year, two thirds of respondents
said that the Malteselanguage is the greatest signifier of national unity.
Seventeen per cent said they speak bothlanguages at home, five per cent
speak only English, while 76.4 per cent speak Maltese.

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2014-11-22/local-news/Using-Maltese-in-all-sectors-of-society-Protecting-our-national-language-6736126143


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