Dak in-naqa Facebook... examiners shocked at bastardised Maltese

Examiners blame Facebook for essays in which students use English words and informal, colloquial language

A report on candidates’ performance in their Maltese O’ level blames frequent grammatical and orthographical mistakes on the tendency of students “to write as they feel” without any consideration for rules.

The examiners attributed these grammatical shortcomings on the “influence of haphazard writing on Facebook” and the lack of reading and communication in Maltese.

This year’s annual examiners report on candidates’ performance in their Maltese O’ level denounced the “exaggerated and incorrect” use of the word ‘naqa’, a colloquial, somewhat endearing term used instead of ‘naqra’ (little) or ‘ftit’ (a few).

The report documents the incorrect use of the word, which is often used during online or everyday conversations. One candidate even managed to use ‘naqa’ three times in the same sentence: “Immur ngħin naqa lil missieri niżbarazzaw naqa affarijiet u nsuq naqa l-mutur tiegħu.” (I went to help my father a bit to clear some things and drive his motorcycle for some time).

As denounced in previous reports, various students either resorted to English words or created bilingual hybrids in their essay writing. These hybrids included ‘avijabbli’ (available), ‘jispredjaw’ (they spread), ‘nirrikwestja’ (we request), ‘witnessi’ (witnesses), ‘qomt fis-sitta o’clock’ (I woke up at six o’ clock) and ‘fil-pinikal tal-Covid’, (at the peak of the pandemic).

Other students resorted directly to English words like ‘bottle tax-xampanja’ (champagne bottle), ‘ommi haditha easy’ (my mother took her time), ‘sirna best friends’ (we became best friends), and even direct translation of English idioms ‘qabditli għajni’ (caught my eye), ‘logħba futbol li ħadet post’ (took place), ‘tieħu f’kunsidra’ (take into consideratio), and ‘ma tafx il-futur xi jżomm’ (what the future holds). In various cases, examiners also denounced poor expression and wrong use of plurals like ‘xmari’ instead of ‘xmajjar’ (rivers), ‘flus folza’ instead of ‘flus foloz’ (counterfeit money).

“It is clear that some candidates find it difficult to wrote and express themselves in Maltese… some candidates lack lucidity in their thinking and often one finds no connection between different paragraphs while others fail to make a distinction between written and colloquial Maltese.”

The examiners found “a lack of imagination” and poor ideas and a lot of repetition. In some instances some of those writing an essay on ‘L-imxija tal-pandemija’ (the spread of the pandemic) wrote about a walk (mixja). Some even failed to write in paragraphs, writing their essay in one big chunk.

But they also found a number of good essays which included a refined use of the Maltese language with a number of candidates also referring to the negative psychological impacts of the pandemic due to its impact on socialisation.

Nearly two-thirds of those sitting for the exam managed to obtain a pass-mark but only 3% obtained a Grade 1 mark. Nearly 40% of candidates obtained a Grade 4 or Grade 5 mark.