March 19 sees the start of the biannual Korrika, a fun-run that seeks to raise awareness about Euskara (Basque) and raise funds for schools aimed specifically at adult learners of the language. This year’s nineteenth edition of the relay, in which multiple runners take part at any one time, is a nonstop run crisscrossing the whole Basque Country over the course of eleven days and over 1000 miles. Designated runners pass on a baton, carrying a secret message inside that is only revealed and read out at the end of the run. This year’s event starts in Urepele and finishes in Bilbao on March 29, but multiple parallel celebrations have been and will also be held all over the world, from Boise to Berlin, Montreal to Montevideo, and Shanghai to Sydney.
For an appreciation of the history and cultural significance of the event, see Teresa del Valle’s Korrika: Basque Ritual for Ethnic Identity.
If you’re interested in learning more about Basque, one of the few tongues in Europe to predate the arrival of Indo-European-speaking peoples six thousand years ago, check out the following books:
Koldo Mitxelena: Selected Writings of a Basque Scholar, compiled and with an introduction by Pello Salaburu, a selection of texts on the history and structure of the Basque language by the most renowned scholar of Euskara.
The Dialects of Basque by Koldo Zuazo, which explores the fascinating dialectical variety of the language and is the first study of its kind in English, including in-depth case studies of particular dialects.
The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, a collection of texts by experts in the field of Basque that explores the current bilingual situation in the Basque Country and the challenges Euskara faces looking toward the future.
Language Rights and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, the collected papers of a conference exploring the many facets of language rights and language protection from a variety of theoretical, legal, and academic perspectives.