The first book ever printed in the Basque language is now available in Japanese. Linguae Vasconum Primitiae, written by Bernard Etxepare and published in Bordeaux (France) in 1545, marks a milestone for Basque culture. Printed almost a century later than the Gutenberg Bible, this collection of religious, autobiographical, and amorous poetry opened the doors of printing houses to a language that some thought was not writable.
The title page of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae (BNF/Gallica)
The book has been translated, especially into Romance and other European languages. Now it is also available for Japanese readers thanks to the work of Sho Hagio and Hiromi Yoshida, two Japanese euskaldunak (Basque speakers) who learned Euskara in Japan. The book is published by the Basque Government and the Etxepare Basque Institute.
You can obtain a copy of the English translation of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae in the Center for Basque Studies bookstore or check out it from the Basque Library of the UNR.
What’s more, you can read a digital edition of the original text by Josu Lavin and take a look at a facsimile edition by Gallica, the French national digital library.
Donostia-San Sebastián 2016 European Capital of Culture and the Etxepare Basque Institute, in collaboration with EIZIE (the Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of Basque Language), have just launched a new program aimed at bringing translators to the Basque Country to study Euskara (the Basque language), with a view to them incorporating Basque as either a pivot or source language for their future translations.
“E Translating Wikipedia” by Marbora – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons
The translators chosen will be awarded grants to live in at a barnetegi (a boarding school for adult learners of Basque) and complete intensive Basque-language classes there.
This is a great offer for anyone interested in learning (or improving their) Basque as well as using this knowledge professionally. The deadline for applications is May 14. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Anyone interested in studying Basque should check out Nancy Zubiri’s affectionate record here of her journey on the road to becoming an euskaldun or Basque speaker. And for the experience of living and studying in a barnetegi, see the “Euskaldundu: One Girl’s Journey to the Land and Language of Her Ancestors” blog at the EITB (Basque Public Media Group) website.
If you’re interested in the Basque language, check out Estibaliz Amorrortu’s Basque Sociolinguistics, which examines the social and cultural aspects of Euskara, and The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, a collection of essays that explores the current status of Basque and the challenges it faces as a minority language.