Letters: 19 July 2015

Fearing language change

The Akkademja tal-Malti disagrees with Henry Frendo’s arguments published last Sunday. When the Council for the Maltese Language was set up in 2005, the orthography became its responsibility. The current council is made up of 11 members, and five of them are highly qualified linguists. This guarantees that decisions are made after the issues involved are carefully evaluated.

Frendo’s reaction is a demonstration of the fear many people experience in the face of language change. Many are afraid Maltese will die out. The members of the Council for Maltese are doing their utmost to counter such tendencies and allay irrational fears.

The Council for Maltese needs to make every effort to publicise each initiative it has taken, including nursery rhymes for Maltese primary schools (available online), the publication of the football register in Maltese (Ballun Pinġut, 2012, 90pp., 930 technical words) in association with the Għaqda Ġurnalisti Sports, bilingual wayfinding signage at the Oncology Centre (next to Mater Dei) and the establishment of hugely successful proofreading courses co-organised with the Department of Maltese at the University.

If the council’s work is advertised adequately, public support for the council will not be very different from that displayed by the Akkademja tal-Malti towards the same council.

Joseph P. Borg, Akkademja tal-Malti

Unacceptable dictation

I refer to the contribution by Prof. Henry Frendo (Sunday, 12 July). The work carried out by the National Council for the Maltese Language has been of enormous benefit to the sector. Besides the vast amount of other work, it strengthened spelling standardisation and is revising the spelling of English loanwords in Maltese. This exercise is taking into account all opinions, contrary to what was stated by Prof. Frendo.

This exercise is being carried out by people highly qualified in Maltese and is taking considerable time as it will impact teaching and writing. It is being done following a well-attended public seminar and numerous consultative meetings with various sectors. It is not acceptable that a person who is a historian, rather than a linguist, should dictate how Maltese can be written.

In Maltese circles, technical discussion regarding the spelling expanded when the council, together with the University of Malta’s Department of Maltese, commenced holding a course for proof readers in Maltese. At present, the 10th course is under way and, in addition to the 56 persons attending the Tal-Qroqq and Xewkija campuses, the number of certified proof readers in Maltese now is 309. Every year, the course is eagerly sought by teachers, students, broadcasters, civil servants, employees in the private sector and others. This means that knowledge of good Maltese orthography is spreading as never before.  

Apart from the technical skills of proof reading, the course also teaches the history and roots of Maltese and imparts a love of our native tongue which will last a lifetime and be passed on.

Our association was born out of this course and we will participate fully in the public consultation launched by the minister.

Karl Scicluna

Ghaqda Qarrejja tal-Provi tal-Malti

Construction pressures on a small island

As I watch two, sometimes three, cruise liners arriving in Grand Harbour, dwarfing the backdrop of the Cottonera ‘Three Cities’, I ask myself: why is all of Malta’s undoubted aptitude for construction located upon dry land? 

Maltese architects proudly defend their long standing unique ACE qualification - signifying an architect/engineer theoretically competent to design water related projects as well as those on land. 

So, why could not a vision for a new university be projected as a group of two or three islands (the equivalent of a couple of cruiseships) floating off the coastline instead of concreting over one of the last tracts of traditional Maltese open countryside? 

Precedents can be cited as follows: 

1.    Venice, ‘La Serenissima’, is lauded as one of the world’s greatest urban achievements. 

2.    Real estate closely related to water invariably attracts an economic premium.

3.    A successful development such as Portomaso can easily be visualised as a free form floating offshore. 

4.    Technically the offshore energy industry has evolved a variety of modes of placing and anchoring large scale developments that are modular and interlinked.

5.    Floating developments may be concrete and masonry as well as metallic. Many of the Liberty ships built in WW II to supply the Allies from the US were made of concrete; several still exist seventy years later. So the skills of traditional Maltese masons would still be in demand.  

Most important of all are the environmental arguments. In the Netherlands these days floating residential developments are deemed ecologically preferable to former polder land reclamation.

The noise and disruption of construction takes place in well-equipped yards. Additional or replacement components are towed into position, older ones towed away for re-cycling: selling on, scrapping or refurbishment. 

Administratively, such projects could perhaps be granted temporary planning permission: say 10 years. After which a permission might be extended if found to be environmentally acceptable, or modified in accordance with conditions for extension of the permission, or the development may be sold on to another location entirely. 

Could floating real estate even become a successful future Maltese export?

David Higdon, Valletta

The feast of Santa Marija

Sometimes we forget the ultimate sacrifices suffered by the 2,000 victims who were killed by the two monsters, the Italian Mussolini and the German Hitler.

The 2,000 citizens of Malta and Gozo were no lawbreakers or rioters but peace loving people minding their own business. We know that if it were not for the intercession of Our Lady, we would not have survived the last war.

I hope that the government and all other political parties, along with the citizenry of Malta and Gozo will do something fitting to mark this this great day.

Major R.H. Marks, Kercem, Gozo

Plastic bins spoli Mgarr ix-Xini bay

Would it be possible for the council responsible for the positioning of public rubbish bins at Mgarr ix-Xini, right in the centre of this scenic, unspoiled bay to reconsider their position so that the previously unobstructed view of the bay can be enjoyed again?

Unfortunately these bins have been permanently fixed into place next to the new swimming platform, attracting wasps, flies and smells to the children and people enjoying the beach and water facilities.

I also question the need for four additional bins when there are already two bins a short distance away.

While I understand the necessity for, and usefulness of, rubbish bins, perhaps there is a more sympathetic position for them in what is now a major tourist attraction for Gozo due to the recent filming?

Pauline Sandars, Xewkija, Gozo

A hat’s hare

What a turnaround! Just when Sai Mizzi was receiving a lot of flak from different quarters, like a female magician pulling a hare out of her hat, Sai managed the impossible. She attracted one of China’s largest companies, Huawei, to come to Malta and sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

This is only an MOU but on the other hand such a large company would never have bothered to sign an MOU unless it was serious in its intentions that it would proceed further and invest in Malta. Well done Sai! 

Maurice Mizzi, Bidnija