‘Dotty’ system bars patriot baby names
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‘Dotty’ system bars patriot baby names

Birth register software doesn’t allow Ċikku, Ġorġ or Liża

Naming a baby is not as straightforward as some people might suspect. Photo: Shutterstock

Naming a baby is not as straightforward as some people might suspect. Photo: Shutterstock

Thanks to Princess Charlotte everyone is talking baby names, but just in case you got caught in a patriotic vein and were considering giving your newborn a Maltese moniker, think twice.

The current Maltese birth registration system does not allow for Maltese fonts, which essentially means that names with ċ such as Ċikku or Ċensa; with a ġ such as Ġorġ or Ġanna; and with a ż such as Liża or Ġużi, are out – or at least will be recorded without the essential dots which distinguish the Maltese phonetical sound.

The reason being that new technology in the early 1990s was not compatible with Maltese fonts.

This was not always the case: before the introduction of the electronic system of registration some 25 years ago, registration of acts of births on the original register was handwritten and therefore it was possible to include Maltese fonts.

Twenty years ago I had to register my daughter as Liza not Liża because the software at the registry did not allow for the use of Maltese letters

So for example, Ġorġ Mallia, 58, a communications academic, was registered by his parents in full Maltese font, but he could not do the same when his daughter was born.

“Twenty years ago I had to register my daughter as Liza not Liża because the software at the registry did not allow for the use of Maltese letters. I got so angry about it.”

Mr Mallia said he had hoped the system had changed.

Olvin Vella, a lecturer in Maltese language at the University of Malta, said that he called his five-year-old son Gabrijel and made sure to avoid any letters common only to Maltese fonts.

A spokesman for Identity Malta within the Home Affairs Ministry said that a new system “is being planned” “which will address” the issue of Maltese fonts, among other matters.

“Currently registration is made electronically and the text on the printed copies which compile the relative register do not include Maltese fonts. It is, however, possible to effect handwritten amendments to include Maltese fonts on the original register, on instructions by the person reporting the birth in question,” he said.

However, he said that no amendments can be made on copies of the birth certificate.

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