Between May 13 and 15, the UEU (Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea or Basque Summer University) presented IkerGazte, the First Conference for Basque Researchers, in Durango, Bizkaia. The conference represented a major statement about the current state of academic work being carried out in the Basque language.
The main goal of IkerGazte is “to normalize and to extend the use of the Basque language through coordination of academics, researchers, and students within this aim.” The UEU is an open organization that seeks to bring together young Basque researchers at different stages of their graduate studies.
Plenary talks at the conference were given by Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers, associate professor of biology at the the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and author of the Pharyngula science blog, which the journal Nature listed as the top ranked blog by a scientist in 2006; Karmele Artetxe, associate professor of educational theory and history at the University of the Basque Country and one of the founders of the Inguma data base, a collection of the Basque scientific community’s authors, books, and articles; and Itziar Laka, full professor of linguistics and Basque studies at the University of the Basque Country, whose A Brief History of Euskara, the Basque Language, is available free to download here.
Papers and posters were presented in the fields of human sciences, social sciences and law, exact sciences and natural sciences, engineering/architecture, and health.
It’s worth recalling that the decision to standardize Euskara or the Basque language was only taken in the late 1960s and that, lacking institutional support until the 1980s, it was extremely difficult to publish scholarly works in the language. That academic production in Basque is, today, increasing is testament to the work and efforts of these young scholars. The Center applauds such efforts. Zorionak!
The current state of the the Basque language is discussed by Estibaliz Amorrortu in her Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture. Part 2, in particular, addresses language planning policies and how efforts are being made to normalize the use of Euskara in everyday walks of life.
Similarly, in Language Rights and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, the case is made for the positive benefits of cultural diversity and multilingualism for any society.