New rules on how English loan words should be written in the Maltese language have been published, bringing years of work and consultation by the National Council for the Maltese Language to an end.

The new rules, which will become official on December 11, 2023, were published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday.

The rules may sound complicated, but the 15 pages of text end with a table which somehow simplifies them. And people have five years to get used to them.

According to the new rules, when deciding which word to use, a writer should consider whether there is an established word in Maltese with the same meaning which could do the job. So one should use biljett and not 'ticket', for example.

But if you have to use the English word to explain yourself - such as "chatting" - the English word should be used.

And if the English word is to be used, how should it be spelled?

• It should always be written in English if it is made up of two or more words - such as 'windscreen', 'roundabout', 'shock absorber' and 'fire extinguisher'.

• It should be written in Maltese, according to Maltese orthographic rules, if it is integrated in Maltese grammar, for example:

Nouns (expect those taking the s in the plular form)

kitla - ktieli
sors - sorsi
brejk - brejkijiet

Verbs

Fajjar - fajjarna - tfajjar
‘ċċarġja - ‘ċċarġjajna - tiċċarġja

Adjectives/participles
‘ggaraxxjat/a/i

• The writer can choose whether to use Maltese or English spelling if the word is not integrated in Maltese grammar or if it is a noun taking the 's' in its plular form - such as film-films, kompjuter-kompjuters or friġġ-friġis. 

In nouns and adjectives/participles, if the written form in Maltese is not visually far from the British word, such as ħelikopter, kamera, plastik, alkoħol, it can be written in Maltese.

If the word written in Maltese is visually very different from the English spelling, it should ideally be written in English. This would be the case for "foundation" and "shutter", for example.

When the English spelling is retained, it should not be marked in writings, documents, graphics and publications but can be marked, such as with inverted commas or put in italics, if it is used in a teaching context or in material for young children.

The new rules in full can be read here.

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