Eusko Ikaskuntza, the Basque Studies Society, has awarded Joan Mari Torrealdai the Manuel Lekuona Prize 2015.

Joan Mari is a researcher, bibliographer, and, above all, an euskaltzale, a promoter of the Basque language and culture.

Joan Mari Torrealdai (L) and Iñaki Dorronsoro, president of Eusko Ikaskuntza.

Joan Mari Torrealdai (R) and Iñaki Dorronsoro, president of Eusko Ikaskuntza.

Unfortunately, some of these activities took him to prison. In 2003 the Spanish National court closed Egunkaria, the only daily newspaper in the Basque language at the time, linking it to ETA. Joan Mari, as chairman of the board of Egunkaria and one of its first sponsors, was arrested with nine other people. When in 2010 all of them were absolved, it was too late for the newspaper.

Joan Mari has been the director of Jakin, one of the main publications about Basque culture, on two occasions: 1967-1969 (when the Spaniard government closed the journal) and 1977-2014.

In Jakin and since 1977, Torrealdai publishes “Euskal liburugintza” (Basque book publishing), an annual analytic report about publishing in the Basque Country. In addition to bibliography, other topics in his research are the everyday use of the Basque language and the censorship suffered under Franco.

Nowadays, Joan Mari Torrealdai is an euskaltzain (an academician of the Basque language) and head librarian at Euskaltzaindia, the Academy of the Basque language.

For more on the Basque language, see the following CBS publications:

The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country

The Dialects of Basque

Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture