Is there need for the Maltese language?
I have been following with great interest the polemic regarding proposed changes to the written Maltese language. Malta has been struggling with this problem since before the Second World War. The politics at the time hinged on whether the dominant language in Malta was to be English or Italian. Maltese at the time was a "splintered" language. Those who favoured the English language introduced many an "English expression" and likewise "Italian expressions" by those who preferred the Italian language.
I have been a regular visitor to Malta. I speak and write Maltese. And when visiting Malta I always speak Maltese to Maltese merchants, who invariably respond in English. During my visits I did not fail to notice the big changes that have taken place in conversational Maltese, and it is only thanks to my knowledge of Arabic and Italian that I have been able to keep up with these changes. During one of my visits I was greatly annoyed at the word obbvju that seems to have crept predominantly into every day talk. It was in such great use that the spoken Maltese seemed to revolve around this one very word.
There seems to be a nationalistic fervour to establish a Maltese language at a time when Malta now forms part of Europe and when the Maltese are already blessed with some degree of English.
Why is there a need for a language that just about everyone agrees to be so difficult to learn and even more difficult to write?
Take Italy and the Italian language, as an example. A national language "Italian" was necessary since people in the various provinces spoke dialects of great variance with one another. This is not the case in Malta where people from every corner of the island communicate quite comprehensively with each other. It is my experience that in personal correspondence, the English language is the one most commonly used at a personal or family level.
And is there an economical or communication need of a Maltese language? How much use is the Maltese language to students who struggle with this subject to gain entrance to a University? How useful is a Maltese language going to be in the prospective Smart City?
Let's put the Maltese language where it belongs - a romantic art form, not unlike Latin. And what use is there of a Maltese language to students who eventually emerge into a world of English language technology and communication.
The spoken Maltese could at best be only considered as a dialect. Possibly closer to Sicilian. Stop trying to make it a language. The people of Bari, Sicily, Calabria,etc. learn Italian but still speak their original dialects. Likewise the people of Malta speak their dialect but English is by far their choice language of written communication and expression.