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Summer School in Maltese Linguistics, 15-26 June 2009
Official Opening

The University of Malta Institute of Linguistics in collaboration with the Department of Maltese launched its first Summer School in Maltese Linguistics at an opening ceremony held at the Old University Building in Valletta, on Monday 15 June. Prior to the launch, Prof. Joseph M. Brincat delivered a public lecture on Maltese and other languages: A linguistic history of Malta.

The Official Opening was addressed by University of Malta  Pro-Rector, Dr Mary Anne Lauri, Dr Ray Fabri, Chairman, Institute of Linguistics, Prof. Albert Borg, Department of Maltese and Dr Alexandra Vella, Summer School Coordinator.

The Summer School will be held from 15-26 June 2009 and is being co-ordinated by the Foundation for International Studies Ltd. Its main aim is to give practising linguists and students of linguistics a flavour of the structure of the Maltese language, as well as of the context within which Maltese thrives.
Non-Maltese linguists who have chosen to work with Maltese as one of their primary sources of data often have to resort to dictionary and/or native-speaker information in the absence of a backdrop which could serve to better inform their interpretation of the data being analysed. The Summer School therefore  aims to provide linguists and linguists-to-be with information on Maltese that will help them better use the resources available to them in their research. The Summer School also provides a forum for Maltese linguists to showcase their research and lays the ground for collaboration between Maltese linguists and linguists from overseas. The main objectives of the Summer School are therefore: to enhance further interest in the Maltese language, to provide a showcase of state-of-the art research on various aspects of Maltese linguistics and applied linguistics (historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, sign linguistics, language planning,  etc.) and to increase contact between Maltese linguists and foreign linguists working on Maltese.

The Summer School is organised around three strands:  the sound system of Maltese, the Maltese lexicon, grammar and meaning, and Maltese in context. The sound system of Maltese provides an overview of the historical development of Maltese phonology and deals with pronunciation including segmental and syllable structure, stress and intonation. The Maltese lexicon, grammar and meaning strand examines the structure of Maltese words and sentences and looks at processes such as inflection, compounding, derivation, word order, topicalisation, verbless structures and tense. The strand Maltese in context examines the linguistically rich context within which Maltese continues to thrive and sketches work being done in areas such as language planning, language use in the media, Maltese Sign Language and computer technologies and Maltese. Effects on Maltese of its recently acquired status as an official language of the EU will also be discussed and a brief foray into Maltese literature made. An optional course in Maltese for adults/foreigners is also being offered to interested participants in parallel to the Summer School through L-Iskola tal-Malti.

The fact that the Summer School will take place in Malta is important in the context of the aims of the Summer School in that participants will be able to appreciate, at first hand, the richness of the linguistic situation in Malta. In-course excursions to various historical sites, some with linguistic interest, should further serve to enhance the overall experience for participants in the Summer School.

The Summer School is an excellent example of collaboration and teamwork at the University of Malta. It is being organised by the Institute of Linguistics in collaboration with the Department of Maltese through the Foundation for International Studies. 11 lecturers coming from the Institute of Linguistics and from 3 different Faculties  (Arts, Education and ICT) are involved. Besides the Institute of Linguistics, 5 Departments are involved in this year’s Summer School, together with L-Iskola tal-Malti.

The number of participants in this year’s Summer School is relatively small, however, future Summer Schools look very promising, given the large number of foreigners from places as far apart as Australia, Israel and the US, as well as from Britain, France and Germany, amongst others, who have expressed an interest in participating when the Summer School is run again.

Maltese Linguistics June 2009
L to R: Ms Celine Farrugia, International Programmes Manager FIS Ltd, Dr Ray Fabri Chairman Institute of Linguistics, Dr Mary Anne Lauri Pro Rector, Prof. Albert Borg, Department of Maltese

Maltese Linguistics June 2009


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