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Sunday, July 31, 2005


Last week I announced that something I wrote a few years ago will be appearing in Tabellina very soon. My Sunken (Is)land/s appeared on the Tabellina website today.

I originally wrote Sunken (Is)land/s for a non-Maltese audience. I had already lived away from Malta for many years, and since I had engaged with the English language at a rate well above everyday conversation (that's what happens when you spend some years doing doctoral research in an English-speaking environment) I had come to a stage where I was able to not only read and write in English, but also think in English.

Immanuel Mifsud has translated Sunken (Is)land/s into Maltese. The Maltese title is Artijiet Mgħarrqa; I love how this Maltese title evokes subliminal thoughts about ruined artworks in my twisted mind. Manuel has produced quite a faithful translation; I take this occasion to thank him publicly...I don't think I've ever done that before. I honestly feel that he has written a much better piece in Maltese than I would have written had I composed Sunken Is/land(s) in Maltese. This is not just because he is a better Maltese-language writer than I am, which he is. Nor is it because my command of the Maltese language is not as good as it was when I was the managing editor for the Maltese bilingual radio and TV guide (Gwida/Il-Ġimgħa) between 1989 and 1991, or when I wrote my notorious weekly Sunday newspaper column called Fil-Vina from early 1993 until I left Malta in May 1994. It's just that the process of thinking in English and the process of thinking in Maltese simply produce different written results. Pierre Mejlak alluded to this indirectly a few weeks ago when he explained why he blogs in English rather than Maltese, even though he is a published Maltese-language author as well as a professional Maltese translator in Brussels.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I prefer to speak and write in Maltese whenever I can. This is not so much because of nationalistic pride as it is because of the cultural identity I have embraced for myself. Just the fact that I insist that my name is spelt Toni rather than Tony should be clear enough that I am proud of my Maltese cultural heritage.

I am very impressed by the bilingual structure of Tabellina. I believe it will continue this way; unlike Immanuel's personal blogging, which ceased to be bilingual on Saturday, May 28, 2005. It takes too much time and effort to keep up a prolific output in two languages unless you have a small army of translators or copious amounts of free time.

This week I plan to start writing extensively in Maltese. None of these Maltese writings will appear on this blog. All this new writing in Maltese is for a project I've been thinking about (in Maltese) for many years. Mikiel Galea's recent memoirs about our teenage years, which continue to appear on his blog, are very inspirational for the exercise I'm about to start this week. Perhaps I'll bring glimpses of my new project to my blog readers sometime in the near future, but so far I have no plans for that.

Meanwhile, visit Tabellina and enjoy some of the best Maltese writing currently available on the web. If you don't undertstand Maltese visit Tabellina anyway, because everything is also available in English, even though (so far) my piece is the only one originally created in English.

Blogger wwwitchie said...

Hey Toni!! Yeah your piece is up finally... For the sake of continuity and some sort of regularity, we've decided to update fortnightly...

Not only are Immanuel's translations amazing, his turn around time is really, really short... In fact he sometimes translates a whole article while listening to me complaining about how much I have to do :)

Glad you like our efforts so far. Tabellina is still very very fledgling but it seems to be taking shape finally. 

9:55 PM, July 31, 2005

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