Thursday, February 12, 2004

Maltese Gets No Respect

I found this rather interesting article about the Maltese language.

Losing out on the Maltese language in Europe?

by Arnold Cassola (

Arnold Cassola urges government to wake up and shrug off its complacent attitude

Wednesday, 11 February, 2004
For all those of us who fought really hard during accession negotiations to ensure that the Maltese language would be an official lannguage of the EU, the end result was a real explosion of joy.

Our language spoken by 400,000 people is on a par with languages, such as German, Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and others, spoken by scores of millions. Indeed, in the European Parliament corridors, I have become the subject of amicable envy and wrath of my Basque, Catalan, Breton, etc. colleagues, whose languages - despite being spoken by millions - are not recognized as official EU languages.

Yet, after all this effort, we now risk losing it all because of the inertia of our authorities during the past 13 out of 14 years! We knew we wanted to enter the EU, but the government never prepared the necessary structures in order to form qualified translators and interpreters from and into the Maltese language. The University course only started a few months ago, in October 2003, because of the bad planning of our government.

Well, we simply cannot go on like this. We risk entering the EU without any Maltese interpreters in the European Parliament as from 1st May, when Malta joins the EU. Now we are even risking not even being able to provide one Maltese teacher to teach the language to interested foreigners.

In fact, for the forthcoming intensive summer language courses being organized by the EU institutions for its employees, all official languages of the EU are being advertised. However, the teaching of the Maltese language to EU employees is at risk since this depends on finding a teacher.

The Professional Training Services of the European institutions in Brussels is jointly organising intensive summer courses for interested EU employees. Maltese is the only language being advertised, subject to the availability of a Maltese teacher! I can assure you that this note is being sent to the 20,000 employees of the EU institutions. And, noting my language as the only one subject to the retrieval of some Maltese teacher... makes my blood curdle.

This situation cannot go on. With regards to linguistic matters, our country is becoming the laughing stock of the EU. Our government has to wake up, shrug off its complacent and fatalistic attitude, be pro-active and immediately encourage any Maltese qualified teacher to take up the summer post offered by the EU Commission in Brussels.

We must all understand, our government in particular, that the issue at stake is not only linguistic, but is mainly political. A country that does not respect the language of its people will in turn end up not being respected at all by other countries. All Maltese should fight to protect the basic dignity of our country and people through the multiple opportunities offered to us by EU membership.

A government that is not capable of taking up these opportunities is simply a government not worthy of its name.

Arnold Cassola will be contesting the coming elections for the European parliament under the Alternattiva Demokratika - The Green Party banner.

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