Maltese Linguistics in International Fora The European Science Foundation is funding the MedTyp project involving the holding of international workshops on Languages in the Mediterranean in an attempt to determine to what extent the historical contact between the various languages in the area has resulted in the formation of common Mediterranean linguistic traits.

Through a collaborative effort between the Departments of Italian and Maltese in the Faculty of Arts and the Institute of Linguistics, Maltese was well represented at the latest workshop in the series held in Tirrenia (Pisa, Italy) at the beginning of June. Professor J. Brincat spoke on "Linguistic cross currents in the Central Mediterranean. Maltese as a focal point" and Dr Manwel Mifsud and Professor A. Borg presented a joint paper on object marking in Maltese and the presence of this feature in other Mediterranean languages.

It was satisfying to see how Maltese is now well known to the international linguistic community and how the hard work in Maltese linguistics over long years by local and some foreign students has borne fruit. In fact, of the twenty five different presentations at the workshop, virtually all of them included different aspects of Maltese in their discussion.

The MedTyp project follows the successful conclusion of the Euro Typ project also funded by the European Science Foundation. This project had looked at the typology of European  Languages and one of its workshops concentrating on the structure of the Noun Phrase had met in Malta with the co-operation of the Institute of Linguistics.  The proceedings of this international meeting have since been published as a special issue of Rivista di Linguistica with the title The Maltese Noun Phrase Meets, Typology (volume 8, 1996), edited by F. Plank and A. Borg. It contains fourteen articles on various aspects of the noun phrase in Maltese in a typological perspective.

Members of the Institute of Linguistics also took part in the 4th International Conference of the Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe (AIDA) held in Marrakesh, Morocco last April, at which almost eighty papers on various aspects of the dialects of Arabic were presented, some by leading scholars in the field. The opening talk in the plenary session chaired by the eminent semiticist David Cohen, was given by Dr M. Mifsud, the International Secretary of AIDA on "Marrooned: the Arabic vocabulary of Malta". Dr Ray Fabri and Professor A. Borg presented a joint paper on "Object, Focus and Word Order in Maltese.

The fact that Maltese Linguistics played an important role in both these international meetings is evidence of the special characteristics of its structure, looking as it does both to the Southern and to the Northern coasts of the Mediterranean.

Yet another important event for Maltese will be the visit to Germany in July by Dr Ray Fabri of the Institute of Linguistics. He will be giving a talk on Maltese in Bremen at the Colloquium on the Minor Languages of Europe (such as Basque, Catalan and Inuktitut).

Dr Fabri's visit  is taking place in the context of a long term plan for co-operation with the Institute for General and Applied Linguistics of the University of Bremen which is seeking to set up lectureships in some of the minor languages of Europe. Dr Fabri will then proceed to Wuppertal to give another talk on the inflection of verbal forms in Maltese at another Colloquium organised by the Departments of Linguistics of the Universities of Dusseldorf, Wuppertal and Cologne.

The inclusion of studies on Maltese Linguistics at such international meetings augurs well for the further development of the scientific study of Maltese in a healthy two-way exchange: Maltese is submitted to the current methods of Linguistic inquiry and at the same time further insights into its structure contribute to the advancement of Linguistic Theory.

April 2000