Mal­tese aca­demics con­cerned about the amend­ments to the Mal­tese Lan­guage Act

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

“We are fol­low­ing very closely the Gov­ern­ment's pro­pos­als to amend the Mal­tese Lan­guage Act. Al­though the pro­pos­als be­ing put for­ward are few in num­ber, they will have the ef­fect of weak­en­ing the Mal­tese Lan­guage Coun­cil by dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing the aca­demic in­put.” This was said in a state­ment by a num­ber of Mal­tese aca­demics who are con­cerned about the changes in the Mal­tese Lan­guage act. The fact that rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the Coun­cil has been strength­ened with the ad­di­tion of four new mem­bers is a pos­i­tive step; how­ever, three ma­jor short­com­ings are ev­i­dent in the gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als.

First short­com­ing

Up to now, the Coun­cil has had eleven mem­bers, seven of whom were qual­i­fied in Mal­tese and four were not nec­es­sar­ily specif­i­cally qual­i­fied in Mal­tese. Fol­low­ing the gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als, the new Coun­cil should have thir­teen mem­bers, six of whom will be qual­i­fied in Mal­tese while seven will not nec­es­sar­ily be qual­i­fied.

Sec­ond short­com­ing

The Coun­cil has a num­ber of tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees, eg, a Com­mit­tee for ITC and a Com­mit­tee for Ter­mi­nol­ogy. Up to now, the head of a com­mit­tee was ap­pointed from a list of per­sons rec­om­mended by the Akkademja tal-Malti and the Depart­ment of Mal­tese (Univer­sity), both of which are un­doubt­edly well-es­tab­lished aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions whose in­volve­ment serves to guar­an­tee a sense of qual­ity and pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the choice of com­mit­tee heads. How­ever, the new pro­pos­als sug­gest, in­stead, that the heads of the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees should be pro­posed by five (out of thir­teen) mem­bers of the Coun­cil, and not the Akkademja and the Depart­ment of Mal­tese. Sig­nif­i­cantly, ac­cord­ing the new pro­pos­als, the Coun­cil will have seven mem­bers who might not have any spe­cific qual­i­fi­ca­tions or, in­deed, any knowl­edge, of the Mal­tese lan­guage. This means that five mem­bers who might not be qual­i­fied in Mal­tese will be able to nom­i­nate the head of a tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee.

Third short­com­ing

Cur­rently, the Mal­tese Lan­guage Act stip­u­lates that tech­ni­cal lan­guage ques­tions are to be dealt with by a Com­mis­sion of ex­perts (made up of the chair­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Coun­cil and the heads of the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees). The Coun­cil can re­ject the Com­mis­sion’s pro­pos­als but it can­not amend them. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the amend­ments be­ing sug­gested by the Gov­ern­ment, the Coun­cil, which will con­sist of a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers that will not nec­es­sar­ily be qual­i­fied in Mal­tese, will have the last word in mat­ters on which the Coun­cil might be in dis­agree­ment with the Com­mis­sion. This means that, if the law passes as pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment, im­por­tant de­ci­sions will be taken by a Coun­cil with a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers who might not be ad­e­quately qual­i­fied.

As as­so­ci­a­tions and en­ti­ties of Mal­tese (listed be­low), we de­clare that:

1. We do not agree with those amend­ments which could weaken the aca­demic el­e­ment within the Mal­tese Lan­guage Coun­cil;

2. We do not agree that the amend­ments should do away with the role of the Akkademja and the Depart­ment of Mal­tese in ap­point­ing the heads of the Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tees; these ap­point­ments have al­ways been based on the aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the per­sons in­volved;

3. We do not agree that the ma­jor­ity of Coun­cil mem­bers could be per­sons who are not fully qual­i­fied in Mal­tese, our na­tional lan­guage.

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