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Title: The teaching and learning of Italian in Malta : toward a new dimension
Authors: Eynaud, Joseph
Keywords: Italian language -- Study and teaching -- Malta
Italian language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers
Television programs -- Malta
Language and culture -- Malta
Issue Date: 1996
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Education
Citation: Eynaud, J. (1996). The teaching and learning of Italian in Malta : toward a new dimension. Education, 5(4), 23-27.
Abstract: In talking about the presence of Italian in Malta one needs to look at the linguistic influence of a succession of many foreign rulers. After the Arabic domination (870-1092) that marked the semitic base of the Maltese language, the Normans who took over Malta in 1091 introduced Latin as the administrative language. From around 1400 onwards the official language used between the local Maltese government and the Central government in Sicily was not only Latin but also the Sicilian dialect (Wettinger 1993). The taking over of the Maltese Islands by the Knights of the Order of St. John and their long domain (1530-1798) marks a fundamental stage in Maltese linguistic history. The Tuscan dialect adopted by the Knights as their official language became the language of culture on the Islands. From the second half of the XVI century, official documents were written in Italian. This, however, did not hamper Maltese writers from making use of other Italian dialects, especially Sicilian and Neapolitan (Eynaud 1979). The brief period of French rule (1798-1800) does not entail important changes from a linguistic point of view. However, the primacy of the Italian language is put in jeopardy during the English domain (1800-1964). After the relative calmness of the first years, the English rulers started to make reservations against the use of the Italian language, perceived with suspicion following the Unification ofltaly. These events brought about the much discussed issue of The Language Question that characterised the socio-political history of Malta up to the Second World War. The year 1934 was decisive: the Constitution of Malta was modified so that the Maltese language became an official language alongside Italian and English. At a successive stage the Italian language was ousted from the University and the law courts. The definite degrading of Italian from official language came about in the month of May 1936. The subsequent entrance of Italy in the war of 1940 closes definitely the Language Question. The 1964 Maltese Constitution elevates the status of the Maltese language, promoting it to National Language, with English as the other Official language. Paradoxically the Italian language again gains position, at least, as to the number of Italian speakers in Malta. Today, all political controversies of the first half of this century are forgotten, and Italy has become the greatest partner of the island, not only in the political and economic fields but also in the cultural spheres. The diffusion of television programmes by RAJ and other private Italian networks has rendered the Maltese viewers almost completely dependent on Italian television, at least until the recent arrival of cable television. As a consequence, the young generation not only absorb and reproduce Italian modes of saying, but look up to Italy as a way of life to admire and imitate.
Appears in Collections:Education, vol. 5, no. 4
Education, vol. 5, no. 4
Scholarly Works - FacArtTTI

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