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Monday, May 31, 2004

Using the Maltese language for official EU matters

A couple of weeks ago I posted my comments about the situation of the Maltese language in official EU matters. In that posting I said that I'd be looking at the Maltese MEP candidate pool to see who among them holds our native language as a badge of distinction. I'm also doing this in light of the way the European Commission has chosen to tackle translation nightmares.

I don't know all the candidates equally well, so my take on this is skewed not only by my regular biases (whoever is without bias may cast the first stone!) but also by my lack of insight into certain candidates profile beyond what they're telling us at this stage of the campaign. I should also say that while I have every respect for anyone running for an EU office outside the structure of the three major parties in Malta, I will not take any such individuals into consideration here.

It goes without saying that Arnold Cassola, who has worked as a professor in the Maltese Department at the University of Malta for many years, is an excellent candidate in this regard. What's more he has quite a bit of experience on EU affairs and if elected will give Malta a voice within a European political group where he has been quite vocal over the past few years: the European Greens.

As for the candidates of the Nationalist Party, I'd say that the person who holds the Maltese language at highest degree of recognition it deserves would be Joe Friggieri. I'm not necessarily praising him because of his academic credentials here, (he's a Professor of linguistic philosophy, among other things) but rather because his use of the Maltese language in the arts is well respected. Then again I seriously doubt he will get more votes than there are words in this paragraph.

The MLP candidates pose on interesting challenge for anyone attempting to do what I'm trying to do here. Wenzu Mintoff jumps out immediately for having the courage to stick to the Maltese version of his given name, and perhaps he has a good chance of doing well in this election because he can attract the votes of those pro-EU labourites who found themselves at a loss in last year's referendum and general elections.

As you can see, this is not my pick for the 5 people I think will get elected to the EU parliament. That's another story for another day. Still, I actually don't care much for that story other than to say that Malta will have lost out on a great opportunity if it is only represented in the Christian Democrat and Socialist political camps at the European Parliament.

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