6.3 Use of Maltese Language in the home

Maltese migrants speak Maltese at home and on social occasions. In 1986, there were 81,900 persons in Australia who spoke Maltese as a first language.

The number of Maltese-speaking persons in Victoria as at the recent census (1986) was 28,331 which makes Maltese the 4th most commonly used language (other than English - LOTE) in Melbourne -and the 5th in Victoria as a whole. Thus 4.4% of the total population of Victoria speaks Maltese. (Table 6.1). Fifty-one percent of all Maltese speakers reside in Victoria. This marked increase in the proportion of Maltesespeaking persons in Victoria (compared with previous censuses) is probably due to the fact that when filling census forms, Maltese are now more ready to admit that they actuary do speak Maltese at home, rather than saying that they speak English. In view of the fact that the 1986 census was the first one to ask specifically about language use in in addition to language proficiency, comparison with previous census data may not be accurate.

The Maltese-speaking population is highly concentrated in certain regions, particularly in Victoria. Up to 9.5% of the total population of the Western region of Melbourne) speak Maltese, making it the 3rd ranking LOTE language - in Sunshine it ranks first. In Sydney the Maltese are concentrated in the Western suburbs as described earlier (Chapter 3).

A study of the use of Maltese language by children of Maltese-born parents shows that where the father is born in Malta, there is a greater tendency to maintenance of Maltese language than when the mother is born in Malta. Although the number of females and males marrying a non-Maltese is about equal, there are more children from fathers marrying a non- Maltese who speak Maltese at home. This is particularly relevant in view of the fact that the proportion of marriages with a non-Maltese partner has been increasing markedly over the past 20 years from about 17% to nearly 50%.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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