maltese orthography is surely child's play, compared with that of english!

i think the situation where most writing is in english, and most speech is
in local languages, is widespread. i've noticed it in the philippines and
in anglophone africa.

sometimes just a few words of written english are used, as "tokens" or
"symbols". outside train stations in japan there is frequently a police
cabin, with a large and detailed street map of the local area. at the top
of the map, it says INFORMATION, in english. the map itself is entirely in
japanese. it's rare to find anyone in the police cabin or the train station
who can give directions in english. cheers; bill

>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?
> Steven
> - world's writing systems.
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William Bright
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics & Anthropology, UCLA
Professor Adjoint of Linguistics, University of Colorado, Boulder
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