Marco Cimarosti wrote, Fri, 14 Sep 2001 11:55:27 +0200
> Years ago, a widespread Italian newspaper published a letter from a very
> annoyed American lady who was in Italy for learning Italian. She reported
> that, as soon as she tried to utter some Italian, people detected her
> English accent and started speaking in English to her.

I've encountered that here in Malta as well. So few foreigners bother to
learn it, that natives invariably try to switch to English, or worse, they
completely mishear my sentence as if it was English- because they expect
English. My best compliment? "I thought you were English!" (i.e., 'By
the looks of you, I didn't THINK you were Maltese until you started
speaking!' [I'm not..])

Qalam's manifesto being refreshed in mind [thank you], I've noticed
something else here. I'm currently working on projects concerning this
language (Maltese) on the computer. Something curious is that while
Maltese is really the more common language spoken, despite English being
an official language and spoken with foreigners, people prefer to WRITE in
English. I have heard this in other language groups as well, that they
prefer language A, but language B is easier to write in, shorter, more
common, etc.

In Maltese, there is first of all a sense of the language being inferior,
but remember I'm talking even about handwritten notes to oneself and to
others- not international correspondance.
Secondly, the orthography can be a little difficult, being the semitic
system but with Latin letters, and having two silent letters. People have
said they are afraid of writing because they might get it wrong!
I am not bilingual - yet - but I'm trying. To me translation isn't a 1:1
thing and meanings can change. However, I've started to catch myself
writing down notes on what someone says in the 'opposite' langauge they're

As well, the language has not to my knowledge had discussions on
terminology and usage- but they are starting. And so, a lot of
conversations are peppered with ad hoc borrowings. Some people feel
uncomfortable writing a 'normal' english word with Maltese orthography
because it 'looks strange'. It's a chicken and egg thing, because many
technical fields are not the subject of published works.

I always thought that writing was a type of communication, a record of
langauge as it was spoken. Has anyone else seen this kind of relationship
with the written system, where one language is definitely preferred for
speaking and another definitely preferred for writing?