Mickey Malta

Notes from the zone where 'normal' things don't happen very often

Maj lingwistikk dajlema

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Is it a dilemma or a dajlema?

Is it a 'dilemma' or a 'dajlema'?

I am one of the many people who cringe when they see words spelt like: “kowc”, “bagit”, “junjin”, and other strange looking words in a language we called “Minglixx” (pronounced Minglish using English phonetics).

At school, my friends and I used to take the mickey (no pun intended) out of grammatical mistakes by writing phonetic Maltese which was identical to the examples I just cited. Little did we know that this would have inspired the Maltese language gurus who turned this into official language!!!!

Now it’s all over the place: newspapers, books, television and magazines. It’s a complete eyesore and I hate this form of ‘grammar’ with a passion. When I look at this issue purely from an emotional viewpoint, I reach my verdict in 0.0000000000000000001 seconds. Flush this language down the toilet. Punto e basta.

However, when you look at this issue from a logical, practical, and linguistic point of view, you can understand the validity of our gurus’ logic. Let’s take a word that we use practically every day. The verb ‘to park’ in Maltese is ‘tipparkja’. It doesn’t look awful doesn’t it? It’s all psychological. I think that it doesn’t look bad (at least in my eyes) because all the letters in this word have their own proper sound.  Hence the word looks Maltese.

On the other hand, the ‘oa’ in ‘coach’ is replaced by the ‘ow’ in ‘kowc’. This looks absolutely ridiculous and phoney.  Having said that, if we had to use the verb ‘coaching’, ‘tikkowcja’ looks much more appropriate than ‘tikcoachja’.

There’s more. Take ‘spray’ for example. If we had to keep the original English spelling (which I would prefer – on an emotional level), would tisprayja work? Definitely not. It’s a smorgasbord of different languages with disastrous results. It’s akin to using zalzett tal-Malti instead of pork to create a Chine/Maltese sweet and sour recipe.

Malti Safi enthusiasts may rebut this claim by asserting that we have a semitic word for this, and therefore there should be no issue. The Maltese word is ‘tharreg’ but this is not a correct replacement of ‘coaching’. Tahrig is training and there is a marked difference between coaching and training.

While I believe that the gurus are wrong to change the structure of plurals (like ghelieqi instead of eghlieqi; and ghasafar instead of aghsafar) because of popular ignorance towards the structure (which is quite easy when you realise that ‘Razzett”s changes form to  ‘Irziezet’ – the vowel precedes the first consonant), I can understand that the only way to make ‘imported’ words work is by giving them a Maltese structure.


Written by mickeymalta

05/04/2009 at 11:13

Posted in Blog Main Page, Media

Tagged with , ,

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