There’s an interesting report in today’s Naiz.eus (the online edition of Basque daily Gara) about plans on the part of the Basque Wikimedians User Group, the EU Euskal Wikilarien Kultura Elkartea, to consolidate the rather creditable position (for a small language like Basque) of being ranked 31st among the different Wikipedias for the number of articles published (for something of the history of Wikimedia in Basque see a previous post here).
The point is made that the moment has come to make a qualitative leap forward in the content being posted, and with this in mind collaboration agreements have been reached and discussions held with both Basque public institutions and the university sector. In the words of member Galder Gonzalez, who was recently in Montreal to attend Wikimania, “whenever we Basques go abroad we’re the exotic people, as in the very active community with that romantic minority language.” In the world of small languages, though, the Basque Wikimedians User Group has become a reference point, providing advice and assistance to other user groups in Scots Gaelic, Asturian, and Welsh, to name but a few.
As regards the challenges ahead, though, one major flaw stands out: despite making up half the world’s population, women only account for 15% of Wikipedia articles. And the Basque-language Wikipedia is now actively committed to overcoming this shortfall. With this in mind, the Wikiemakumeak project has been drawn up to increase the number of biographies about women in Basque. For project member Amaia Astobiza Uriarte, “We’ve created a lot of biographies about women recently but in my opinion, more than a question of increasing the numbers or figures, it’s more important to circulate those biographies in social networks, educational circles, the media, and any other places we can, because that’s the only real way for women to gain visibility.”
See the full report in Naiz (in Basque) here.
Rioja wine from Araba. Picture by Agne27, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Our resident wine expert, CBS grad student Kerri Lesh, has posted previously (see her posts here and here) on the debate in Araba wine circles over whether to create a new and distinct classification of the wine produced in this Basque province outside the Rioja label under which it is currently categorized. The latest news in this regard is that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Rioja Regulating Council and ABRA (the association representing some 40 Araba winemakers seeking a distinct classification) whereby the latter will forgo its pursuit of a distinct label in return for a new labeling policy that will, theoretically and within two years, list the respective sub-division of the wines produced in the Rioja region (Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, or Rioja Baja) equally in size on the labels (a key part of the demands from certain Araba producers) to the traditional Rioja brand mark. In theory, then, from the 2017 harvest onward, bottles of Rioja originating in Araba will be clearly labeled as such in a font equal to the generic Rioja label, thus allowing consumers to choose clearly from which sub-division of the Rioja producing area they prefer to purchase their wine.
On August 1, 1974, Igor Yebra was born in Bilbao. He grew up to become the premier male Basque ballet dancer, as well as being a choreographer and instructor. He is considered to be a great example of the danseur noble, a male ballet dancer who projects great nobility of character.
Named after the main character in Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, Yebra’s first love was soccer and he dreamed of playing for hometown team Athletic Bilbao, but he soon became involved in the world of dance through the influence of his parents who ran a dance school. He started his formal training at the relatively late age of 13 and first danced professionally, while still a student, for the Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid; a company with which he went on to become principal dancer. After six years with this company, however, he struck out on his own– despite receiving offers from recognized companies like the New York City Ballet, Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón, Scottish Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre–to become a freelance ballet dancer, working with several companies including the Australian Ballet, the Cuban National Ballet, the Bolshoi, and as guest principal for the Bordeaux National Ballet and the Rome Opera Theatre Ballet.
He has won numerous awards throughout his career, such as the Leonide Massine Prize in 2003 and the “Gialino d’Oro” in 2010, presented by the Italian Ministry of Culture. In 2006 he realized a personal dream by opening his own dance school in Bilbao, and he has been a member of the UNESCO International Dance Council since 2009.
The Provincial Council of Bizkaia is one of the sponsors of the forthcoming Foodies Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland (This Friday through Sunday, August 4-6), in part to celebrate a new direct air link between the capitals of Bizkaia and Scotland.
As part of the activities, which will attract around 25,000 visitors, there will be a stand showcasing Basque food and wine production as well as the restaurant industry. The stand will be serving 13 different dishes and there will be Basque music and talks about Basque culture in general.
Two specifically Basque-themed events will be part of the official festival agenda:
Aitor Garate from Asador Etxeberri Erretegia (No 6 in Top 50 Restaurants in The World) will be speaking at the Chefs Theatre on Friday and Sunday.
‘Bizkaiko Txakolina’ An Introduction to Biscay Wines in the Drinks Theatre at 4:30 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
If you haven’t already read it, check out a report by the BBC Travel website on Euskara, the Basque language. One of the interviewees in the piece, Karmele Errekatxo, offers a profound perspective on Euskara: “Language is the identity of a place … If you take language from a place, it dies.” Also interviewed is a good friend of the Center, Pello Salaburu, author of Writing Words: The Unique Case of the Standardization of Basque, and coeditor (with Xabier Alberdi) of The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country.
Check out the full BBC article here.
The Center has published a number of books on the topic of the Basque language.
Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture, by Estibaliz Amorrortu, is a great introduction to the social dimension of Basque. This book is available free to download here. See, too, Koldo Zuazo’s fascinating study The Dialects of Basque.
And these works are complimented by the handy and instructive CBS-Morris English-Basque/Basque-English Dictionary-Hiztegia.
* Image: Inkscape 0.91 screenshot in Basque (Fedora 22) by Assar, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Too Many Kisses is a 1925 movie directed by Paul Sloane and based on John Monk Saunders’s story, “A Maker of Gestures.” It is notable for being the earliest surviving film to feature Harpo Marx, but also for its setting: Iparralde or the Basque Country in France. The plot concerns a father who sends his Lothario son to Iparralde in the belief that he will not be able to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him there because Basques only marry among themselves (!) Harpo Marx plays a minor role as the Village Peter Pan. See a full description of the film, for a long time thought to have been lost, here.
As the above clip demonstrates, the movie makers were fairly liberal in their interpretation of Basque culture but it’s an interesting testament, nonetheless, to showing that the Basque Country was known in the US in the 1920s as somewhere singular and different. What do you think? Does Harpo make a convincing Basque?
News comes our way of a rather unique business idea: marketing Bilbao rainwater! Why not? This is, after all, Bilbao! A city not renowned for its modesty but definitely known for its bilbainadas. As Joseba Zulaika observes in That Old Bilbao Moon (p. 180):
The bilbainada is a too-muchness that, except in Bilbao, is unaffordable. It is the city’s alter-ego behavior, the extravagant antidote to the frustrations of an understated, modest lifestyle. Going for the Guggenheim Museum was for many a typical bilbainada. What for an outsider seems a braggard’s exhibitionism is for Bilbainos ritual consumption.
As the saying goes, “The only virtue that is lacking for Bilbainos to be perfect is modesty.” It goes with such grandiosity that there can be nothing greater in life than being from Bilbao.
Just by way of clarification, if the initiative takes off, the intention is to make the product in centers for people with mental disabilities and donate part of the profits to worthy local causes. If you’d like to get your own particular bottle of Bilbao rainwater, click here.
Check out a short but interesting interview with star Basque chef Eneko Atxa, who not only runs Azurmendi just outside Bilbao, but also has a more informal London restaurant, Eneko.
We picked up on a couple of things he mentions and think they’re pretty important when it comes to understanding Basque culture. For Atxa, “Basque people are born around the dinner table. We are unique in that when we are eating we are also speaking about our dinner; we are just crazy about our food and it dominates our conversations every day.” So true! It’s one of the first things those of us not born into Basque culture notice when hanging out with Basques on their own terrain … they not only love preparing and eating food, they love taking about it as well, while they are actually eating it! And just a heads up for anyone who didn’t know, if you ever get invited into someone’s home in the Basque Country for a meal, be sure to compliment the chef early on into the meal (“Zer goxoa!” “How tasty!”)…
Atxa continues: “my mother and grandmother always showed me the importance of the kitchen and healthy eating, and giving pleasure through food. I understood that it could be one language that could translate and transport people to a space and a culture.” Food as a language! What a great idea! Of course, we as humans communicate through food. It’s one way we transmit our tradition, culture, and love… in fact, what better way to do that than by sitting round a table enjoying great food, great conversation, and great company? Isn’t this the very basis of society, sitting down and sharing common sustenance? We think so!
See the full interview here.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to take a look at Hasier Etxeberria’s On Basque Cuisine, a publication of the Etxpeare Basque Institute free to download here.
On July 13, 1955, one of the great characters in the modern age of pilota (also spelled pelota) was born in Azkaine, Lapurdi: Panpi Ladutxe (also spelled Pampi Laduche). The son of another famous pilotari or Basque handball player, Joseph Ladutxe, he began his career in the four-walled trinkete (closed court) version of the sport more common in Iparralde or the Northern Basque Country, where he was from, becoming world champion in this version at the tender age of 19. He later switched to the three-walled (open court) fronton variety more common in Hegoalde or the Southern Basque Country in his mid-20s, winning two doubles titles in 1987 and 1989, partnered by Joxean Tolosa.
Ladutxe stood out in many ways, being the first player from Iparralde to gain success in Hegoalde in the modern age. After retirement he went on to promote and develop the sport in and train fellow players from Iparralde, two of whom in particular–Sebastien Gonzalez and Yves Salaberri or “Xala”–went on to enjoy great success, following in his footsteps. He has also been a great showman away from the court, enjoying some success as a singer of traditional Basque songs both live and in the release of two records: Aitari (1995) and Chansons du Pays Basque (2002).