Council: Amendments to law will take Maltese back 40 years

Maltese Language council accuses Education minister of refusing to consult with those most knowledgeable about Maltese language

Maltese Language Council says proposed changes will erase 40 years of progress

Maltese Language Council says proposed changes will erase 40 years of progress

The Maltese Language Council is calling on the government and the opposition, not to go ahead with the proposed changes to the Maltese Language Act.

In a press conference held this evening, representatives from what were described as the six largest Maltese language institutions, said that they were very concerned that the proposed changes would allow certain decisions regarding the Maltese language to be taken by individuals who are not qualified. The council said that they have been left with no choice but to take the matter to the Prime Minister.

Present at the press conference were representatives from the Maltese Language Academy, Maltese Department at the University of Malta, Maltese Department at the Junior college, Linguistics Institute at the University of Malta, Maltese Language Society at the University of Malta, and the Association for Maltese proof-readers.

The president of the Academy for Maltese, Olvin Vella said that over the past ten years, the Maltese Language council had succeeded in bringing together the different organisations working within the field of the Maltese language, and to reach consensus on a number of issues, as well as to work constructively together for the benefit of the language.

Vella lamented the proposed changes to the council, arguing that these changes would weaken the Maltese language by allowing everyone to have his say, irrespective of their qualifications.

“We are against changes to the constitution of the Maltese language council that will result in a weakening of the council. We want the council to remain made up of a majority of people who are qualified, while also remaining representative,” said Vella.

Vella said that the proposed amendments were being made to appease “some people” who despite having no qualifications, have very strange ideas about what Maltese should be like.

“We are worried that in the near future, the dream of certain ambitious individuals who want to spread their fantasies at the expense of common sense, will become a reality. Unfortunately, these people have been given preference over the council by the ministry,” said Vella.

The Head of the Maltese Language Department at the University of Malta, echoing Vella, said that the proposed changes would weaken the council.

Micallef accused those of proposing the changes of not being able to speak the language themselves, adding that the proposed changes would cause the Maltese language to go back to the state of chaos it was in 40 years ago.

“Even the press release that was issued to announce the proposed changes was full of mistakes. We are predicting, with certainty, that this will be the consequence of these changes. If someone were to come to me with a document like this, I would have said that the personal clearly does not know anything about Maltese,” said Micallef.

Mill-gazzetta Maltatoday. Kitba ta’ Yannick Pace

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Maltese academics not consulted about Maltese language law amendments

Not everyone believes that the Maltese language is a unique heritage that we need to cherish and preserve. The Peruvians are very proud of their ancestor’s language, the Quechua, which is spoken by a couple of million people in Latin America and which they deem to be very rare. The Maltese language is probably less common, but still not so many understand its value. The Akkademja tal-Malti (the Maltese Language Academy) and five other institutions promoting Maltese are seriously concerned with the amendments being proposed by the government. Dr Olvin Vella, President of the Academy, speaks to Gabriel Schembri and explains his concerns about how Education Minister Evarist Bartolo’s proposals, if they go through, will weaken the Language Act and the Council for Maltese.

You are objecting strongly to Minister Evarist Bartolo’s proposed amendments to the Language Act. Are you opposed to any changes whatsoever?

The Maltese Language Act was set up 10 years ago and it is only natural that some changes would be needed from time to time so as to enable the Council to carry out its function better. What I cannot understand is the dubious reasons behind changes which are not needed, and which do not emanate from either the Public Forum or the report of the Committee, both of which were ordered by Minister Bartolo himself.

Why are you objecting now? Didn’t the Minister consult with you before announcing this reform?

No. The ministry never approached us or the National Council before launching its sham public consultation about the Language Law and the Council. We only heard about it from the evening news bulletin.

What was your reaction?

We protested with the Minister, apologised for the gaffe, and promised to hold a Public Forum about the Council, as stipulated in the Language Law. However, the Public Forum was only a fresh occasion for the Minister to add insult to injury. At the end of a Forum in which all the floor (more than 200 persons) applauded the Council’s work, Minister Bartolo in his closing speech, rather than complimenting the Council for all its hard and unpaid efforts over the last 10 years, dismayed his listeners by announcing that he would appoint a Consultative Council to carry out the “needed” reform in the Language Act.

By this time it was crystal clear that what Minister Bartolo was after was not what both the Public Forum or his Consultative Committee would suggest, and that both were nothing more than scapegoats to feign public consultation.

Wasn’t this a premature conclusion since the work of the Consultative Committee still had to begin?

Clearly, it was not. In Maltese we say Min tafu tistaqsix għalih (You don’t need to ask about someone you know well enough). In fact, we were proved right. Apart from a couple of minor changes, Minister Bartolo’s most serious proposed amendments to the Language Act and to the composition of the Council are totally new and were never suggested by either the Maltese public at the Forum or the members of the Consultative Committee. They are changes that have no other source but the Minister’s undeclared projects for the Maltese Language, and which are not shared by any of the six main institutions promoting Maltese. We simply cannot have a Minister trampling over all public and expert opinions to achieve his undeclared goals.

But what exactly do you disagree with in the proposed changes?

The Consultative Committee had suggested the inclusion in the Council of a representative of the Translation Department at the University of Malta, a member of the Broadcasting Authority, and another one representing the publishers. On the other hand, two academics which were heads of technical committees have lost their seat. This means that instead of 11 members, the Council would be made up of 12.

So why does the amendment say that the Council would have 13 members, not 12?

That is because the Minister decided to include another member from the National Book Council. The Committee was against such a nomination.

What is the problem with having 13 members instead of 12?

It is not the number of members in the Council that matters, but the quality of their credentials, their qualifications and their ability to perform the Council’s terms of reference.

So far, the Language Law guaranteed that 7 of the 11 Council members, that is the majority, would be qualified scholars of Maltese. This balance assured the public that the Council’s decisions would be sound and effective. No wonder our Parliament voted unanimously in favour of such a sound setup.

If the proposed changes were to go through, this will no longer be the case. Necessarily qualified members – and I mean, qualified in the Maltese language, let alone any additional qualifications – will be in a minority, and exactly six out of the 13 Council members. How can Minister Bartolo assure us that his proposed Council would take sound decisions regarding our mother tongue when qualified persons will be in a minority?

I see your point here. Is this your only objection?

Unfortunately not. The Maltese Council operates through a small number of Technical Committees. Anyone will realize the importance of having the best qualified persons at the helm of these sensitive Committees. That is why the present Language Law stipulates that nominations for these positions should be in the hand of the Akkademja tal-Malti and the Department of Maltese at the University, which are considered as the most reliable depositories of research on the Maltese Language.

In the proposed amendments, these two bodies have been relieved of this important function, which is being passed to any 5 Council members… possibly five of the seven unqualified members in its fold! That is why we insist that this is strictly a matter of Quality!

Why would the government, or in this case the Minister, be interested in weakening the qualified majority of the Council?

We can only innocently hope that the Minister just did not do his homework well enough when calculating the checks and balances within the Council.

But – in the light of these obstinate and harmful propositions – can we be blamed to suspect that these are only the first steps towards what Minister Bartolo had declared not so many years ago in Parliament (October 2011), when he suggested that our national language be considered like any other foreign language in our schools at all levels?

Why is language reform such a controversial subject?

History and experiences from around the world have shown us that every language change stirs a hot debate. It’s normal and healthy. At university, I teach a subject called ‘Language Planning’ and one part of it is about orthographic reform. When you study this, you will notice that in some cases, these changes have brought about revolutions.  In Germany, an orthographic reform brought with it constitutional crises. It can get that absurd.

What concerns me is that the council has managed to create this harmony between these organisations which have the Maltese language at heart, and certain decisions might weaken all this hard work.

Mill-gazzetta The Malta Independent, kitba ta’ Gabriel Schembri

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Ġużi Gatt dwar ​kif kienet tara d-dinja nannt​u

Nhar it-Tlieta, 6 ta’ Diċembru 2016, ir-riċerkatur Ġużi Gatt se jagħmel taħdita dwar “Il-Viżjoni tad-Dinja li kellhom in-Nies ta’ Dari, Ossija, Kif kienet tara d-dinja nannti, Alla jaħfrilha,” fil-bini ċentrali tal-Librerija tal-Università ta’ Malta, Tal-Qroqq fis-6.00pm. Kulħadd huwa mistieden u d-dħul huwa b’xejn.

Din hija l-ħames taħdita organizzata mid-Dipartiment tal-Malti fil-Fakultà tal-Arti bħala parti mill-proġett ta’ riċerka dwar It-Tradizzjoni Orali. L-ewwel erba’ taħditiet saru mill-Prof. Mourad Yelles mill-Inalco, f’Pariġi, minn Yanika Schembri Fava, Dr Toni Sant, u Marlene Mifsud Chircop. Il-Klabb Kotba Maltin qed jagħti voucher ta’ kotba lill-kelliema kollha f’din is-sensiela ta’ taħditiet.


Ġużi Gatt huwa s-segretarju ġenerali tal-Għaqda Maltija tal-Folklor, u l-editur ta’ L-Imnara, li hu l-perjodiku ta’ kull sena li toħroġ l-Ghaqda. Ippubblika ż-żewġ volumi li jġibu l-isem Qiegħda fil-Ponta ta’ Lsieni, l-Ewwel u t-Tieni Ktieb. Irriċerka dwar l-istrumenti mużikali tradizzjonali Maltin u għen fir-rikostruzzjoni tagħhom. Qaleb ukoll diversi drammi għall-Malti, imma l-ikbar interess tiegħu hu fl-istorja medjevali ta’ pajjiżna, u l-folklor.


Kull wieħed minna għandu l-mod tiegħu ta’ kif iħares lejn il-ħajja, il-mod ta’ kif jagħmel sens mid-dinja ta’ madwaru. Mhumiex wieħed jew tnejn dawk l-għorrief li jsostnu li l-lingwa li titkellem, u t-tagħlim li titrabba fih, jikkundizzjonawlek il-mod ta’ kif tara u tifhem id-dinja ta’ madwarek, ta’ kif tfassal l-imġiba tiegħek, u l-mod ta’ kif iżżomm sabrek fix-xkiel li ssib ruħek fih tul ħajtek. X’kienet il-viżjoni tad-dinja ta’ niesna ta’ dari? Diffiċli biex tidħol f’moħħ dak li jkun, imma Ġużi Gatt se jipprova jiddeskrivi l-istampi tal-ħajja li kellha f’moħħha nanntu, Alla jaħfrilha, u jfisser kif kienet tara d-dinja, dejjem skont dak li kienet tgħid.

Għal aktar tagħrif

Hemm aktar tagħrif dwar din it-taħdita ta’ Ġużi Gatt u dwar il-proġett fuq It-Tradizzjoni Orali fuq Facebook (uom.tradizzjoniorali) u fuq is-sit Dawk li jixtiequ jiktbu lid-Dipartiment tal-Malti jistgħu jużaw l-indirizz


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Mill-pinna prolifika ta’ Joe Friggieri joħorġu dawn l-għoxrin novella, mibnija fuq firxa wiesgħa ta’ karattri u ambjenti, li jżommuk fuq ix-xwiek sal-aħħar u jibqgħu f’moħħok għal żmien twil wara li taqrahom. Huma stejjer ta’ awtur li jaf u jieħu gost jirrakkonta, u li jibqa’ jissorprendi lil dawk li huma midħla tax-xogħlijiet tiegħu.
Magħruf sew għal żewġ ġabriet ta’ novelli li ħareġ fl-imgħoddi, il-popolari Stejjer tar-Ronnie u l-brillanti Ħrejjef għal Żmienna, Joe Friggieri issa jippreżentalna ġabra oħra ta’ stejjer miktubin bi stili differenti. Uħud minnhom juruna kif jaf jittratta b’mod divertenti ideat li ħaseb u kiteb fuqhom bħala kittieb serju… Ħafna mill-karattri l-aktar interessanti li jesplora Friggieri huma nisa, uħud minnhom ibatu mit-tirannija u l-għira tal-irġiel, u oħrajn li jużaw l-intelliġenza, il-misteru tagħhom u l-qawwa ta’ sbuħithom kontrihom… Forsi l-aktar novella qawwija hi dik fejn awtur liberali f’pajjiż tiranniku jipprova jiddefendi ruħu mill-akkużi li fizzjal tal-pulizija sarkastiku u bla ħniena jisparalu waħda wara l-oħra. L-azzjoni hawn hi fid-djalogu ħaj li jfakkar lill-qarrej fid-drammi u l-kummiedji li Friggieri kiteb b’suċċess għall-palk Malti.
Paul Xuereb
Dan il-ktieb ta’ novelli mhux parti mis-sensiela “Nismagħhem jgħidu…Snajja’, Għajdut u Karattri mill-Ħajja Maltija” ta’ Paul P. Borg
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Tnedija tal-ktieb
(poeżiji satiriċi u oħrajn skont il-burdata)
fil-Kamra tal-Konferenzi
nhar il-Ġimgħa, 25 ta’ Novembru 2016 fis-6.30pm
fil-Junior College
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 jiena xi ħadd… li nokrob mill-ġuf ta’ mara” 
hu ktieb ta’ novelli u poeżiji li ktibt favur il-ħajja ta’ ħolqien ġdid diġa mnissel fil-ġuf ta’ mara. Jista’ l-bniedem jibqa’ jaħdem biex biex isib tarf il-ħolqien, u fl-istess waqt jaħdem biex jeqred ħolqien li ġa beda jgħix?
Dan hu t-tentattiv tiegħi biex milli nista’ nagħti leħen imqar żgħir lil min leħen għad m’għandux għax lanqas biss għadu twieled.  Il-ħsieb tiegħi hu li bil-ktieb inkun nista’ nagħti l-kontribut tiegħi biex ngħin lill-movimenti u għaqdiet Maltin bil-għan nobbli favur il-ħajja. 
It-tnedija se ssir fil-Palazz Verdala, il-Buskett, fis-7.00pm.
Paul P. Borg
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L-Għana tal-Fatt – L-Erbgħa 23 ta’ Novembru, 6.00pm, l-Università, Tal-Qroqq

Taħdita pubblika ta’ Marlene Mifsud Chircop

Dħul b’xejn. Kulħadd mistieden

L-għana tal-fatt (il-ballata) għadu jitgħanna sal-lum f’Malta u barra fejn hemm emigranti Maltin. Għandu storja ta’ ħames mitt sena imma fl-ewwel tliet mija u ħamsin minnhom intilef ħafna minnu, waqt li fil-mija u ħamsin sena ta’ wara, wara l-kisba tal-libertà tal-Istampa f’Malta, inġabru fuq mitejn fatt. F’din it-taħdita, Marlene Mifsud Chircop sa titkellem fuq ir-riċerka li għamlet f’dan il-qasam tat-tradizzjoni orali, il-wirt intanġibbli tal-għana Malti, speċjalment fuq il-firxa tal-letteratura tat-triq u l-produzzjoni tagħha, fuq delitti li għannew fuqhom fil-parti l-kbira malli ġraw, jew malli l-ikkundannat ħa l-kastig. Sa tkellimna wkoll fuq l-għannej tal-fatti u l-udjenza tiegħu, l-istil tal-ftuħ u l-għeluq tal-fatt, il-fażijiet tal-liminalità li fih, il-fatt bħala forma ta’ protesta, il-mobbiltà kulturali tiegħu, u l-każ ta’ Ċikku Fenech li għadha tiftakar kif ġara.

Marlene Mifsud Chircop, għalliema u riċerkatriċi indipendenti, ħadmet mal-folklorista Ġuże Cassar Pullicino u mal-mejjet żewġha, il-folklorista antropoloġiku Ġorġ Mifsud Chircop. Wara l-ewwel teżi tagħha “Il-Folklor fir- Rumanz Storiku/Romantiku Malti” (1972) u t-tieni “A Motif-Index of the Maltese Folktale” għall-M.A., kompliet bir-riċerka fin-narrattiva popolari, fl-irrakkuntar u fl-għana Malti, illum il-ġurnata b’mod speċjali l-element kulturali u soċjali fl-għana tal-fatt.

Flimkien ma’ żewġha, ikkoproduċiet u ppreżentat 26 dokumentarju kulturali ta’ 45 minuta għat-televixin: Ix-xogħol Waħdu Jurik u Fuq Għajnejk (1996, 2001, Dir. Alvin Scicluna) u għar-radju Maltese Folklore in the Modern World (2000) u A Folk Festival in Malta (2003). Interpretat u ttraduċiet kemm-il darba l-għana u l-irrakkuntar waqt festivals Malta u barra.

Ħadet sehem f’konferenzi Malta u barra, fejn ippreżentat fost l-oħrajn “Mnarja – a Midsummer’s Festival in Contemporary Malta” (Gothenburg 2006), “Maltese Folk Narrative” (Isle of Bute 2011), “Good Friday Processions in Contemporary Malta” (Innsbruck 2014), “The First Ten Years of the Maltese Folk singing Festival” (Malta 2014), The Development of Maltese Ballads (Malta 2014). Barra diversi sessjonijiet tal-għana u tal-irrakkuntar, kemm f’Malta kif ukoll barra, ideat u koorganizzat l-attivita kulturali “Grimani Min Qatlu?” għal Science in the City (Malta 2014).

Ftit ġimgħat ilu ħarġet il-ktieb Min Qatel il-Patri? (Klabb Kotba Maltin) mar-Rev. Dr Mark Montebello.


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