CBS author Koldo Zuazo was interviewed in Berria on January 5 about the current state of Basque dialect use. While the interview starts off on a positive note, with Zuazo noting that if a language is changing, it’s a sign that it’s alive and kicking, he also shows some preoccupation for the gradual loss of Basque dialect use. This is one of the reasons he has set up a new website, www.euskalkiak.eus, as a means of recording and celebrating the richness of the Basque language through its dialects. As Zuazo argues, if it loses its dialects, then ultimately it is Basque that loses.

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This is not to suggest that Euskara Batua, Unified or Standard Basque, is not important as a means of common expression among Basque-speakers, but Zuazo calls for a more balanced approach to promoting Basque in general, with time and space given over to transmitting Basque dialects as well.

Read the full interview (in Basque) here.

See Koldo Zuazo’s informative and accessible introduction to Basque dialect variety, The Dialects of Basque.  Here, Zuazo outlines how Basque dialects differ from one another, but also contends that mutual comprehension is not as difficult as has previously been assumed. He also offers a new classification scheme for the different Basque dialects, categorizing them as Zuberoan, Western, Navarrese, Central, and Navarrese-Lapurdian, while also offering some observations on Basque-language use in the Americas.

And, as a great companion to this work on Basque dialects, check out Pello Salaburu’s Writing Words: The Unique Case of the Standardization of Basque, which charts the remarkable story of how a standard form of Basque was envisaged, hotly debated, eventually agreed on, implemented, and accepted by Basque society as a whole, all within the space of a generation.

On the same subject, see also The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country and Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture (the latter also available free to download here).