X Factor Malta judge Howard Keith Debono has urged people critical of the relatively high usage of the English language on the show to be more attuned to the reality of thousands of Maltese people.
“Although [fellow judges] Ray Mercieca and Alexandra Alden are both Maltese, their mother tongue is English,” Debono, a popular local music producer, said. “This is the case for thousands and thousands of Maltese people who either grew up or lived abroad, or [who prefer speaking in English] for some other reason. Also, some contestants choose to speak in English when Ira and I speak to them in Maltese. That is their choice and this is part of the reality of Malta. I dream of a day where we stop taking each other so seriously.”
The first episode of the debut Maltese version of X Factor aired last Sunday, with 14 auditonees appearing in front of Howard, Ira, Alex and Ray for a place in the next round. The winner of the competition will eventually represent Malta at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.