Professor Joe Brincat delivered the keynote paper at the opening session of the meeting of the group of scholars who are working on a Linguistic Atlas of the Mediterranean, held in Grado.
The ambitious project had been launched in the 1950s and the last meeting was held in Palermo in 1975, because publication was held up because of the enormous costs of printing. It has recently been revived, thanks to the initiative of Professor Giovanni Ruffino of the University of Palermo, who brought together an international team of linguists to update the results of the questionnaires in view of an online publication on the website of the Fondazione Cini of Venice, where the materials have been safely kept.
Professor Brincat, who teaches Italian linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, spoke on the effects of steady immigration on our islands which have, over the centuries, created an intriguing lexical stratigraphy. He gave examples of how words from the north, south, east and west of the Mediterranean have been adopted and adapted in the Maltese terminology of the fishing trade. Incidentally, the 1975 ALM conference in Palermo was Professor Brincat’s first experience of reading a paper abroad.