Putting an accent on the Maltese language

When it comes to languages, Maltese is as distinctive as it gets. Not only does it consist of an eclectic blend of other tongues, but it is also considered to be a unique branch of Arabic that has undergone Latinisation over the course of several centuries. There are just over half a million native Maltese speakers on the planet, comprising mainly of the population of Malta and the many thousands of expats living across the EU and New World countries.

And yet, even though Malta’s main language is quite niche, it is still recognised as one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. In fact, it is the only Semitic language used in European Institutions in an official capacity. This is truly an impressive feat for such an underrepresented language, but there are still many issues that Maltese faces on a European level.

In a bid to mitigate these challenges, a group of Maltese translators have been investing a lot of energy to ensure the correct use and development of our language. Since December 2009, a publication called l-aċċent has been dealing with these issues by bringing together the knowledge of people from within the European Institutions, academics at the University of Malta, and other individuals that have a vested interest in the Maltese language.

But, before we get into the nitty gritty of l-aċċent, it is important to understand that translating official European Institution documents into Maltese is no simple task. Louise Vella, a translator working at the European Commission and founding member of l-aċċent’s editorial board, is well aware of the difficulties that persist in her profession. “Maltese, like all other languages, is evolving at a fast rate,” she explains, so grammar and terminology can be quite cumbersome during the translation process.

Read more: Times of Malta

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