The Maltese are among those that use technological means with more than 75% of the population resorting to social media on a daily basis. However, how is this influencing the use of the Maltese Language?
Throughout the EU, the Maltese place second most-users of social media like Facebook and Twitter and it is estimated that 79% of the people of Malta use these social communications.
According to Eurobarometer research, 94% of the Maltese population use the social media at least once a week. Only 5% said they have never used it.
The Head of the Maltese Language Department at University, Dr. Michael Spagnol, said the presence of the Maltese language on social media is strong; however, the way the language is being used does not always conform to grammar. Asked whether the use of Maltese on the internet is either strengthening or weakening the Maltese language, particularly among the younger generations, Dr Spagnol said the coin has two different sides.
He said the use of Maltese language on Facebook is high in pages and postings and even on Instagram one may find pages and sites in Maltese and many use Maltese to comment and therefore the concern would be if Maltese is not being used; yet the whole point is, is it correct Maltese grammar?
Dr Spagnol said that despite the perception that the use of the Maltese language is weakening, this is a time when many are thirsting to learn Maltese. He said the Maltese Language Department within the University Arts Faculty is the largest one with about 500 persons studying Maltese at various levels and this includes a number of foreigners improving their proficiency levels. He appealed to Government entities to show greater respect to the use of Maltese.
He urged Ministries, Government entities and institutions to have their sites and social media pages in Maltese and English because a lot of their sites are only in English.
Dr Spagnol said that Maltese, like other languages, is continuing to evolve and its use on social media reflects the way it is being used by society and the use of idioms in different contexts, including in the virtual world.