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 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.