A sign (bil-Malti biss) of the times...
So this is the scene: From here on in, apparently all our road signage, here in Malta and Gozo, must be in the Maltese language only. Well, speaking as a patriotic Maltese, I applaud that, yes I do. But why stop there, why not get rid of all extraneous English from our islands and make every bit of writing appear only in our vernacular?
It makes sense to me; I mean, who gives a toss about some idle Brit tourist who can’t be bothered to learn our language before he comes here? If he or she went to France, Germany or Italy they wouldn’t be pampered with an English translation for anything and everything.
You can’t understand us? Too bad.
If I had my way – and it looks as though the powers-that-be agree with me – I would insist that... for starters: All new film releases entering the islands must be dubbed into Maltese. Shouldn’t be a problem, and just think of all the extra work it would give our actors and voice-over artistes.
And following on from that, I’d make them do exactly the same thing to all programmes on our indigenous TV and radio channels. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to ‘Maltesise’ many of the foreign channels – Can you imagine a Maltese dubbed version of Eastenders? But we’ll start with TVM, One TV, Net, and so on... and see how we go from there.
The blanket ‘Maltesisation’ of all our TV channels would also, of course, include all commercials shown on them. I’ll bet there are a few... OK, maybe a very few... people still hankering for the days of Xandir Malta and ixtri! ixtri! ixtri! Oh, happy days – or not.
Then naturally, having vernacularised all our TV channels and radio stations, we’d set about doing the same thing to all our print media. Foreign newspapers or magazines would no longer be tolerated. Then, as a natural progression from this, the government would instruct all importers that the labelling of their products must only be in the Maltese language.
I wonder what the Maltese for Marmite is? But we are proud, insular Maltese, so it would be back to those glorious days of ‘Malta for the Maltese’.
But to return to the eminently sensible decision to only display our street signage in our mother tongue, there are further advantages.
For example: Just think how much money the government is saving by making these signs half the size they were before.
Sure, it may cause a few problems for tourists and other foreigners visiting us, and trying to get to... say, Mater Dei Hospital, or some other prominent heritage site... ahem.
But don’t worry, they can always ask for directions from one of our knowledgeable and helpful public servants. Picture the scene:
Male British Tourist: “Oh excuse me mate, where are we?”
Friendly Local Warden (In that flat, bored and disinterested monotone so beloved of the breed “Huq! You in Malta, ey”.
MBT: “Yes, but where exactly... is this anywhere near Mosta?”
FLW: (After muttering a few curses under his breath) “Why?”
MBT: “Erm, because... um, could you tell me where I can find the church with the bomb?”
MBT: “You know, erm... Mosta, erm, dome is it?”
FLW: “Look for signs.”
MBT: “I have done, but I can’t understand what they say; they are all in Maltese.”
MBT: “I don’t know but... most people here seem to speak English, I’d have thought it would have been more helpful... especially to tourists... to make your signs in both Maltese and English.”
MBT: “I told you, so more people could understand what they say.”
FLW: “U le! Learn Maltese.”
MBT: “In two weeks?”
FLW: “Huq! It’s not my problem.”
MBT: “Fine, so you won’t help me.”
FLW: “Yes I help you. See that sign, it tell you.”
MBT: “It just says ‘Il-Rotunda tal-Mosta’; which to me means the fat lady of Mosta, but which one, the place seems to be full of them!”