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Maltese loanword guidelines being finalised

Will offer writers 'flexibility'

Language council president Joe Friggieri insists that loanword use will entail consistency.

Language council president Joe Friggieri insists that loanword use will entail consistency.

As the National Council for Maltese Language sifts through the final suggestions for writing English loanwords in Maltese, authors can rest assured that they will be allowed to exercise some flexibility.

Speaking to the Times of Malta as the consultation period on the use of loanwords came to an end and ahead of publishing official guidelines later this month, council president Joe Friggieri said that the arduous process had yielded positive results, as many had come forward with helpful views and suggestions.

Read: From 'brejk' to 'kompjuter': final chance to comment on English-to-Maltese loanwords

The language council is now finalising the guidelines before publishing them at the end of this month.

The use of loanwords in the Maltese language has long been debated, Prof. Friggieri said, with many expressing their various opinions on the matter.

All of them will be taken into consideration in drafting the guidelines, and Prof. Friggieri insisted that writers will have a certain degree of flexibility when choosing how to incorporate loanwords into their work.

“What we mean by ‘flexible’ is that with words that have become part of our language, and the spelling of which looks similar to the original in English, authors may use whichever version they want,” the council president explained.

This, however, does not mean that authors will be able to use different forms of the same word in the same work, Prof. Friggieri said, emphasising that the Council would insist on consistency. He also pointed out that there were hundreds of these words, in most cases there was no word with the exact equivalent meaning in Maltese, and this was when the English word should be used.

According to the council president, the guidelines will be useful not only to authors writing in the vernacular but also to anyone making use of the language, as well as educators, who have for years requested guidance on the matter.

“We have had several requests from teachers, who want clear guidelines, and we hope that this will help them with teaching students on the use of such words,” Prof. Friggieri added.

Current regulations on the loanwords issue date to 1984, with the process of drafting new rules having taken seven years. The council has held various meetings with interested stakeholders and entities from invested sectors, such as education, translation and proofreading services, publishing and newspaper and broadcast journalism.

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