Keynote Address - Professor Maurice Cauchi

Professor Maurice Cauchi followed by indicating that he had gained his experience in Australia. He presented many detailed statistics on the Australian situation based on the Census 1996. It is admirable that out of over fifty thousand Maltese migrants in Victoria and New South Wales, there are still about forty-five thousand who speak the Maltese language. More than a quarter of these are under 35 years of age and were born in Malta.

Many of them would have left Malta when still very young.

A large number of children born of Maltese parents are now classified as third generation Maltese, but the majority of them do not speak their parents' language because their first language is English.

The analysis given by Professor Cauchi demonstrates that, while the first generation Maltese are willing to adopt the Maltese language as their daily life colloquial tongue, yet their offspring have a limited use for the Maltese language outside their homes or their community circles. However, with such along distance away from their roots in Malta, the only life-line they have with our country is the Maltese language.

The question therefore arises as to whether Maltese writings (books, magazines, publications, literature, correspondence etc.) would benefit these migrants if they were made available to them. In our times there is a horde of information written in Maltese through the Internet media. There is no problem with accessibility to Maltese writings. Book reading in Malta and possibly to a larger extent among Maltese overseas is not a popular pastime. Books are usually printed in hundreds rather than thousands. The children use their local libraries to produce their school projects.

Professor Cauchi maintains that there should be a well stocked library in every State where Maltese form a substantial number. This would be useful as a resource both for Maltese as well as for non-Maltese students wishing to obtain information.

Learning Maltese when residing overseas should not be a hindrance. If other languages are taught outside the school curriculum, then the Maltese language too can be delivered to the Maltese children overseas. The Maltese Government is urged not to let this opportunity lapse before our children abroad grow up and forget completely the importance of their parents' language.

Source: 'Malta' - Maltese Culture Movement, Issues 4,5,6, 2000.

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