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.
On this day, Euskararen Nazioarteko Eguna or the international day of Basque, we are particular proud to present two major studies of the language available in English for the first time.
Antonio Tovar, Mythology and Ideology of the Basque Language. With an Introduction by Joaquín Gorrochategui.
Antonio Tovar was one of twentieth-century Spain’s most distinguished linguists and intellectuals, and wrote this acclaimed book on the nature and origin of the Basque language. It is a highly erudite essay, even if the motivation for its composition was ultimately political. Politically a Falangist who supported Franco’s regime, Tovar would devote himself to the study of Basque as a path to study Iberian. But beyond its utility as a hermeneutic tool for the study of Celtiberian and Indo-European linguistic remains, he had a true appreciation for Euskara per se and he became immersed in its linguistic structure, its history, and its literature, producing works such as La lengua vasca and El euskera y sus parientes. Tovar’s aim in this book is to offer a survey with commentary of the ideas about the origin of the Basque language that circulated from the first Medieval and Renaissance opinions up to the early twentieth century. But he does so by discussing along the way the linguistic roots of the entire Iberian Peninsula, contextualizing a long-lasting polemic as to their interaction, in the hope that real knowledge of history would help resolve some of the opposing views.
Pello Salaburu, Writing Words: The Unique Case of the Standardization of Basque
Until the late 1960s there were several spoken and written dialects of Euskara but no standard canon for the language as a whole. Salaburu’s essay describes step by step the fascinating process by which the Batua or Unified Basque was created by providing coherent standards. Thus a unified model was provided for use in educational systems, the media, the arts and sciences, government, business, and so on. The book narrates how the process involving unification was embraced by the Basques in a relatively short period of time. What is historically remarkable is that such a standardization took place in a stateless country divided along different political and administrative lines. Salaburu discusses the key figures involved in the process, the main linguistic issues debated, as well as the efforts to implement these decisions. This chapter on the unification of Euskara is essential for understanding the recovery and current status of the Basque language.