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Rare għana recordings and talk

Manwel Mifsud is an expert on the Maltese language and popular Maltese song. Photo: Charlene Valentina Giordimaina. Right: Fredu Spiteri was a popular Gozitan għannej and makkjettist.

Manwel Mifsud is an expert on the Maltese language and popular Maltese song. Photo: Charlene Valentina Giordimaina. Right: Fredu Spiteri was a popular Gozitan għannej and makkjettist.

Manwel Mifsud is today delivering a talk in Maltese about the Gozitan folk singer Fredu Spiteri, ‘il-Lavarist’, at the University of Malta.

The talk, entitled ‘Mistur u minsi: Fredu Spiteri (il-Lavarist)’ is the eighth in a series organised by the Department of Maltese in the Faculty of Arts as part of its project on oral traditions.

Fredu Spiteri (1929-1965), also known as ‘Tal-Pitrolju’, was a Gozitan għannej (folk singer) and makkjettist (għana and makkjetta composer-and-singer) whose lyrics and charisma on stage pulled the crowds of Gozitans and Maltese. During the talk, Mifsud will be playing rare recordings of Spiteri’s għana.

Mifsud is a leading authority on the Maltese language. For many years he was head of the Department of Maltese in the Faculty of Arts at the University and the first president of the National Council for the Maltese Language. He was also secretary of the international association of Arabic dialectology, AIDA (Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe), and editor of its conference proceedings. His main research interests include the history of the Maltese language,  its synchronic and diachronic morphology, language contact and language planning.

His seminal work, Loan Verbs in Maltese: A Descriptive and Comparative Study (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995), is a description of the processes by which Romance and English loan verbs have been integrated to varying degrees into the Arabic structure of Maltese morphology. Mifsud has been producing and presenting a popular programme on the Maltese language on RTK radio, Seħer il-Malti, for many years. He is also an expert on Maltese għana.

■ The event is being held today at 6.30pm in the Engineering Lecture Theatre (of the University of Malta in Msida. Entrance to the talk is free. More information on this talk and on the oral traditions project is available on Facebook and at tradizzjonioraliblog.wordpress.com. Light refreshments will be served after the talk.

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