Euskara (berriro)

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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:22 pm

A poem created by the Gipuzkoan writer Julen Lekuona. Put to music by the also Gipuzkoan writer, singer Xabier Lete. In fact they came from the same town, Oiartzun, not far from where I live.

The poem is an allegory of the Basque Country.

The bertsolari Maddalen Arzallus covers this song beautifully. She comes from a family of famous bertsolariak, her brother for example has won numerous prizes. And so has she.

Zazpi senideko famili batean
arotza zen gure aita
gure herriko alkate ez izan arren,
lan egiten zuena.

There was a family of seven members
My father was a carpenter.
Although he was not the mayor of our town,
He was a working man.

Zazpi - There are 7 regions in the Basque Country, two in the 'French' Basque Country, five in the 'Spanish' Basque Country. The Basque nationalist dream to unite these 7 regions politically is reflected in the famous lema, zazpiak bat: the seven (provinces) are one.


famili - In standard Basque, the final -a of familia is taken to be inherent to the noun, but characteristic of Gipuzkoan dialects is the resegmentation and reinterpretation of final -a as the homophonous -a of the definite article. In other words, for Gipuzkoans, they interpret Donostia (San Sebastian) as 'the Donosti' and Hondarribia as 'the Hondarribi'. For that reason, they often drop the -a entirely, referring to Donosti and Hondarribi and famili.

gure - The text says literally 'our father was a carpenter'. I mentioned previously that Basques refer to their family and their house as 'our', like Korean does. We say our mother, our father, our house, our country, our language, not my mother, my father, my house, my country, my language.

Itsasoan urak handi dire,
murgildu nahi dutenentzat
gure herriko lanak handi dire,
astun dire, gogor dire,
zatiturik gaudenontzat.

The waters of the sea are great
For those who want to submerge in it
And the labours of our town/country are great
They are hard, they are harsh
For those of us, divided as we are.

herriko - herri can refer to the town as well as to our 'land, country'. Hence the name of Euskal Herria, the Basque Country. Here, the text is clearly playing on both meanings.
dire - Gipuzkoan dialect. In standard, dira.

Markatzen ari diren bide nabarra(r) hau
ez da izango guretzat,
lehengo sokari ezarririk datorren
oztopo bat besterik.

This ambiguous path that they are marking out
Will be for us
Nothing but one more obstacle
Added onto their rope from before

nabarra(r) - I hear an epenthetic /r/, sandhi. The adjective is nabar.

Hainbeste urtetako gure morrontzak
baditu mila tankera
eta, zuhur aukeratzen ez badugu,
bertan galduko gera

Our slavery of so many years
Has a thousand faces
And if we don't make a decision carefully
In it we will be lost

gera - Gipuzkoan dialect. Commonly reduced even further, to gea. In standard Basque, gara.
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:09 pm

I was in the town of Beasain today, because there was an odolki competition (blood sausage) where producers from all over Gipuzkoa competed for the honour of being crowned the best blood sausage maker.

The three finalists were all from Beasain, to give you an idea of the calibre of this town when it comes to making blood sausage. Of course, there was also pintxoak (pintxos) and sagardoa (cider), all for just one euro and sourced directly from the farms. To top it off, it was also market day, so it was packed with people from the town and surrounding towns who came to eat, drink and buy locally sourced fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat etc. I was also interviewed for a newspaper. I swear I'm not a media hog but there was a journalist covering the competition and he insisted.

On the wall of the town hall:


Jakingo bazenu zein polita den zu euskaraz entzutea...
If only you knew how beautiful it is, hearing you speak Basque...

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, but I'd add some other equivalents:

Si sàpiguessis cóm de guapo és sentir-te xerrar en català...

Se soubeses o bonito que é escoitarche falar en galego...
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:46 pm

The other day, a person sang this song to me. I'm not saying that 'all Basque speakers know a bunch of songs', but I will say that I have met a fair number of Basque speakers who have numerous folk songs memorised by heart. It's always impressive for me, being someone of bad memory. To be fair, I've never felt the need or desire to memorise songs that are in the people's collective memory, except for 아리랑 or Pōkarekare ana.

A clear example of what I'm talking about is when I was invited (funny story behind that) to a soziedade, also known as txoko or elkarte gastronomiko. It's a curious cultural and culinary institution in the Basque Country. You pay a fee to become a member. This allows you to rent out a restaurant which is often underground, like in our case, and to use the kitchen to cook and eat there. There is no cook, no waiters, no staff. Only you, the guests you invite and other groups of course who have rented the kitchen at the same time. Only invited guests of members of the soziedade are allowed in. Costs are shared between everyone at the end.


Everyone at the table in this photo are Basque speakers, all come from different towns across the Basque Country, and all speak different dialects from birth. The woman on the left in the red blouse is a native speaker. She learned Spanish only when she went to school. She dances traditional Basque dances, which immediately tells you that she's going to be more interested in her culture. And indeed she knows dozens of songs. And I can vouch for this point because she led the table in singing them, from little ditties to more solemn songs.

The song is called Bagare 'we are' and was created in the 70s by two Bizkaian singers, Gontzal Mendibil and Xeberri. It is about the ways of saying 'we are' in different parts of the Basque Country. In standard Basque, this form is gara, like in the varieties of Bizkaia, Lapurdi and Nafarroa.

Araban bagare
Gipuzkun bagera
Xiberun bagire
Ta Bizkaian bagara
Baita ere, Lapurdi ta Nafarran.

In Araba, gare
In Gipuzkoa, gera
In Ziberoa, gire
And in Bizkaia, gara.
And also in Lapurdi and in Nafarroa.

Guziok gara eskualdun
guziok anaiak gara
Nahiz eta hitz ezberdinez
Bat bera dugu hizkera.

We're all Basque speakers.
We're all brothers.
Although with different words.
We have the one same language.

Bagare, bagera
Bagire, bagara
euskera azkartzeko
oraintxe dugu aukera

Gara, gera, gire, gara,
To strengthen Basque,
we have the opportunity right now.

Herri bat dugu
eta gure zabarkeriz
ez daigun utzi hondatzen.

We make up one country
And let's not let it perish
By our negligence

daigun - Bizkaian form for dezagun

Bagare, bagera,
bagire, bagara
Euskadi askatzeko
oraintxe dugu aukera.

Gare, gera,
Gire, gara
To free Euskadi,
We have the opportunity, right now.
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:33 pm

This song infallibly makes me happy. Filmed on the glorious coast of Bizkaia.

Batzutan azkar doa berez geldi dagoena,
dena desberdina da nor bere arabera.
Ba al dakizu ze forma duen munduak
buruz behera?

Sometimes, what stopped all by itself, goes quickly
Everything is different depending on who (is looking).
Do you know what form the world takes
Upside down?


If you want to see differently
If you want to feel it, undo.
Birds in the head, legs in the air
Climb up, if you want, on top of me.

Itsasoa zeru da eta zerua itsaso,
seia bederatzia izan daiteke akaso.
Egi berrien bila biziko gera
buruz behera.

The sea is sky, and the sky is sea
6 can be 9
We will live in the search for new truths
Upside down
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:10 am

Being realistic about myself. I'm a terrible learner with extremely lazy habits, somewhat offset by my willingness to blow money on living in the country, because immersion really can do wonders if you want to take advantage of it.

The only reason I 'speak' Spanish is because I live in Spain and I wanted to learn it. Although it is quite possible to live here and not learn much, 'wanting to learn the language of everyone around you' nevertheless has very little merit.

Any other person with the same motivational drive in the same situation would already be in C2 I'm sure, whereas I'm content with accpetable Spanish.

I'd rather dedicate my time to learning other languages like Catalan, Galician and Basque than get very good at Spanish. For me, the utility of Spanish is to talk to people who don't speak the above languages, or to temporarily cover over gaps in my knowledge of those languages until I learn. For example I still talk about rock climbing in Spanish, not because I want to, but because I don't know (yet) how to speak about it in Basque.

Ideally I'd like to dispense with Spanish altogether, or reduce its use in my daily life to as few domains as possible. That day is still far off, mind you.

In some way, when I speak Spanish to someone I could otherwise be talking to in Basque, I see that as a 'waste', and the same for dedicating time to actively studying Spanish. I've sometimes wished my Spanish was worse, because it's too easy to fall back onto it to fill in lexical gaps or get myself out of a troublesome spot.

Now don't get me wrong, if I were living in Andalucia, I would be applying myself fully to fit in. I wouldn't be happy with myself being just a so so Spanish speaker there.
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:49 pm

An upbeat song from a pop group project called Baloreak 'Values'. It's a specially made up band of 5 children from all parts of the Basque Country. Asier is from Iruña for example and Netsanet from Baiona. Her name comes from Amharic ነጻነት, meaning freedom. Honestly I thought it was just another 'weird' Basque name, it fits in very well with Aitziber, Saioa, Nekane etc. The song is composed in resolutely standard Basque, as children songs tend to be these days.

Each song on their album refers to a value: Nortasuna (Identity), Erantzunkizuna (Responsability), Elkartasuna (Solidarity), Ausardia (Bravery), Berdintasuna (Equality), Humiltasuna (Humility), Jarraikortasuna (Perseverance) and Maitasuna (Love).

This song is called Elkartasuna, solidarity.

Gero arte Asier!
Agur Iradi!

See you later Asier!
Bye Iradi!

Kalera atera ta plazan naiz
Lagunen esperoan
Bostekoa eman ta indartsu sentitzen naiz
Luna agertu zaidan momentuan

I went out to the street and the square
Waiting for my friends.
I give a high five, and I feel strong
In the moment that Luna appears.

Bakarrik ikusi dut mutil bat
Berria omen da herrian
Enuke nahi nik leku berri batean
Adiskiderik izan gabe bizi

I saw a boy alone
It's said that he's new in town
I wouldn't like to live without any friends
In a new place.

Enuke - in normal spoken Basque, the combination of the verb and the negation ez produces phonological changes. Only in careful speech or serious songs would these sound changes not take place, and it's generally not represented in writing.

For a few examples:

ez naiz - enaiz
ez dut - estut (assimilatory devoicing)
ez gara - eskara (assimilatory devoicing)

Batera indartsuago gara
Arazorik baduzu zatoz gurekin
Denok izango gara baloreak

Together we are stronger
If you have any problems, come with us
We will all be 'values'.

Kaixo, ni Netsanet naiz, zu?
Pozten naiz, ni Kaiet.

Hi, I'm Netsanet. And you?
Nice to meet you, I'm Kaiet.

Pozten naiz - nice to meet you in Basque is literally 'I'm happy'.

Irribarre handi hau zuena da
Mila esker benetan
Sor dezagun ba mundu berri bat hemen
Denontzat lekua izango duena

That big smile belongs to you
Thanks a bunch, really
Let's create a new world here,
One that will have room for every one of us

Utz ditzagun gailuak etxean
Ta eraiki txabola bat
Ametsen jaioterria izango da ta
Zu ere ongi etorria izango zara

Let's leave the gadgets at home
And build a hut
It will be the birthplace of our dreams
You as well will be welcome.

Bat, bi, bat, bi, hiru, lau!

One two, one two three four!

Bat, bi, bat, bi, hiru, lau! - in Basque, one does not count to three to initiate an action e.g. one, two, three, everyone pull! Basque speakers counts to four e.g. one, two, three, four, pull!
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby OCCASVS » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:08 pm

Ho letto diverse pagine del tuo language log e devo dire che e' veramente interessante.
Il catalano e' una delle lingue che piu' mi piace, e leggendo i tuoi messaggi, mi e' venuta la voglia di riprendere ad impararlo. Una decina di anni fa lo imparai un po', ma poi smisi.

Ti volevo chiedere se hai mai provato ad imparare qualche lingua locale italiana?

(Ho scritto questo messaggio in italiano, perche' mi pare di capire che preferisci evitare l'inglese quando possibile)
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby crush » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:56 pm

Kaixo nooj! Pozten naiz hemen beste pertsona batek euskara ikasten ikusteaz!

Zu bezala nire gaztelania ez da oso ona, izan beharko litzatekeen bezain ona ez, behintzat. Baina galiziera, katalana eta euskara ezagutuz geroztik ez zait hain interesgarria iruditzen gaztelania ikasten jarraitzea. Niri hizkuntza txikiak gustatzen zaizkit, biziak daudelako. Txikiak eta batez ere desberdinak (hau da, ingelesarekin konparatuta).

Jendearekin beti euskaraz hitz egiten saiatzen naiz euskara asko maite dudalako eta aldi berean, esan duzun bezala, ez dudalako euskara praktikatzeko (eta sustatzeko) aukerarik alferrik galdu nahi. Eskualdeko hizkuntzak oso politak dira eta ez nuke ikusi nahi haiek desagertzen, beraz arretaz zaindu eta babestu (eta maite) behar ditugu... Gainera, galiziera eta katalanaren kasuan behintzat ez digu ahalegin handirik eskatzen ulertzen ikasteak, nahiz eta hitz egiten ez jakin. Ulertzen baldin baditugu, ba, besteek nahi duten hizkuntza erabil dezakete. Ez dakit zergatik ez den arruntagoa herriko beste hizkuntzak jakitea (ingelesaren ordez, adibidez).

Ta aizu, gure euskara praktikatzeko Discord taldean zaude, ezta?
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:29 am

Last two and a half weeks spent in France and Germany.

Christmas with my French friend's family in their house in the Champagne countryside. Then legged it to Alsace (a few days in Franche-Comté: Besançon and Belfort). Was lucky to meet several Alsatian speakers in Colmar, over a period of a few days. All elderly ladies in their 70s or older. Asked them about the status of the language, their lived experiences as Alsatian speakers (i.e. being punished in school for speaking their language) or during the war for example.

Unfortunately in Champagne, I heard no Champenois, which is a critically endangered langue d'oïl. And in Alsace, I heard no Alsatian in the street spoken by young people.

A lady I talked to at the bus stop pointed behind us to the Colmar theatre, where from time to time, theatre is performed in dialect (i.e. Alsatian). She commented that she didn't understand why people would come to watch a work in Alsatian, but when they sat down in their seats, they would talk to each other in French.

She had just gotten off the bus that came from the other side of the border, from Germany. That is to say, as a native Alsatian speaker in her 80s, she can easily cross the border both ways with no communication problem, something that is not true of any of the generations that come after her. She is a more competent traveler (and one would imagine, a more competent worker for being bilingual) than tens of thousands of young whipper snappers who have grown up in a now monolingual Alsace.

Afterwards, I went to Freiburg im Breisgau for a few days in the state of Baden-Württemberg. A wonderful city in and of itself. A place where Germanic varieties, from various regions, other than the standard German can still be heard daily in the street. I struck up a conversation with someone selling subscriptions to Die Zeit in the street. As it was a cold night and she wasn't having much success, I kept her company and we talked for about an hour. In the meantime some people came by, thinking that she was selling individual copies of said newspaper.

What I noticed and as she confirmed, was that these people spoke in their German, sometimes more approximative, sometimes less approximative to the standard, but always some variety that would be difficult to describe as 'standard German'. A young couple came over: they were Swiss tourists, that was obvious from the start. The man did not speak his native Swiss German variety, but neither could it have been said to be Swiss Standard German. It was his Swiss German modified to make it more manageable to Germans.

Now I am in Buchholz, a town some 30 km approximately from Hamburg, staying with the family of a friend. Neither she nor her parents speak Low Saxon (variety of Low German), although they have a passive knowledge of the language. Her grandmother speaks it. In Hamburg itself, Low German is disappointingly absent, and the language is limited to rural areas and increasingly older people. Speaking of rural areas, I made my way out to the town of Undeloh (in Low German, Unnel). Population 900. Wonderful place and worth the visit to the heaths, in summer the object of much walking tourism.

I did see Low German used in signs and cartels, but in an affective, decorative manner rather than in a real informative manner. That is to say, they used Low German in writing in a symbolic and minor way. For more concrete uses of Low German being written down, it is sometimes written in the local newspapers in columns. In our days, it has been relegated to the realm of oral language, a far cry from the Hanseatic days when Low German varieties served as a lingua franca on paper as well.

All in all, a great last few weeks that have solidified my desire to learn German properly, not only because I feel it's a shame to travel through Germanophone regions without a solid grasp of the language, but also because better knowning German will help me better understand the situation of the minoritised languages in Germany and elsewhere. Just like how I learned French in order to better understand the situation of minoritised languages in Francophone speaking countries.


Far be it from me to imply that I have been neglecting Basque however. The last few weeks before this recent foray into France and Germany have been entirely focused on Basque, accompanied by a careful examination of numerous Basque towns along the Gipuzkoan and Bizkaian coast, and numerous inland Basque towns as well, through the medium of walking. I don't have a car, so I walked along the clearly marked Santiago de Compostela routes, hopping from town to town. It is a way for me to discover a town and its surroundings at a human rhythm.

Let me point out two highlights.

Ondarroa, a coastal town in Bizkaia. Due to my negative experiences with coastal towns in Mallorca, I expected coastal towns to be touristy and hence, less Basque speaking. Nothing can be less true. It is true that they are touristy in summer, but Basque remains vibrant here. All of the coastal towns I've been in have been Basque speaking, if not majoritarily, then at least significantly so.

These towns are also politically conscious and vote for the Basque nationalist parties, either the PNV (Christian Democrat, conservative party) or EH Bildu (far left, openly independentist). Ondarroa for example in the 2019 November elections voted 46.16%% for EH Bildu and 35.33% for the PNV, between just these two political parties, monopolising over 80% of the electoral space in the town.

Graffiti and slogans and flags are not necessarily indicative of the true extent of an opinion, but their presence at least shows that such sentiments are visible and accepted. By that standard, the Basque nationalist sentiment and causes dear to its heart such as political prisoners back home, amnesty, self-determination, is extremely visible in the public space in these towns. High up flying from the church steeple of Ondarroa, I even saw the Palestinian flag. Sympathy for Palestine is quite widespread in the Basque Country, and it seems even among the clergy.

I spent about four hours wandering this small town of less than 9 000 people, and in those 4 hours, I did not hear a single word of Spanish. I do not exaggerate. Not a single damn word. I sat down in the town square with a drink and watched and listened to hundreds of townsfolk go by during the night. I watched the kids play street football, including the immigrant kids. All in Basque. It is only when you are surrounded by Basque in normality, when you are not obligated to switch to Spanish to make yourself understood, that you realise the abnormality of Spanish. It is abnormal the extent to which Spanish is pervasive in Spain (like how abnormal it is that French is omnipresent in France). And it made me think that we still have a long way to to go, so that all of Donostia or all of Bilbao can become a similar Basque safe space.

The second highlight was going to Ipar Euskal Herria, the North Basque Country. More specifically, I went to Baiona and Angelu with some French friends of mine. This was in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so we went to see the Christmas market in Baiona.

As expected, the public space is dominated by French, with rare exceptions. For example the place names (but not the traffic signs!) are given in trilingual versions, as well as some plaques giving information about historical buildings: French, Basque and Gascon, although when I asked my French friends (who were not from the area), they had no idea what the third language was. I honestly don't think I would have gotten a different answer if I had asked someone from Baiona.

Sadly, the eclipse of Gascon in Baiona as a community language is complete. Baiona had been a Gascon speaking city for centuries, that is no longer true, the overwhelmingly used language of communication on all levels is French.

These very recent efforts of public conscientisation have been admirably put into action by the recently created Euskal Hirigune Elkargoa-Comunautat d'Aglomeracion País Basco-Communauté d'agglomération du Pays Basque. In 2019, they declared Gascon and Basque to be two official languages of their community. A declaration that is legally void and null, due to the French Republic only having one official language. It was thus a mostly symbolic gesture.

But it makes me wonder what the opinion of the French denizens is concerning these largely symbolic gestures that have to do with toponymy. Do they stop in front of one sometime, or look up from their car window, and wonder 'what are these languages there, and why are they there anyway'?


Here, a ticket machine in French, Basque and Gascon. Notice how French is always in bigger text size than the other languages and comes first. If you come to Hego Euskal Herria, the South Basque Country, observe the proportion of text size of Basque vis a vis Spanish, and whether Basque or Spanish comes first. It may seem banal, trivial even, whether the Spanish/French text comes first in a pamphlet or whether the Basque text comes first. Or whether Basque is written in bigger letters than Spanish/French. But believe me, it is no small matter. Subtle or not so subtle visual signs like these reinforce linguistic ideologies.


Anyway, I went to Baiona with my friends. I honestly did not expect to hear any Basque spoken, but I was happy to run into a couple of elderly Basque speakers. That they were not from Baiona itself did not matter. They came from towns in Ipar Euskal Herria, but had come down to Baiona as part of a choir group. They sang carols in the streets, and at the end of each song, they were greeted with warm applause. And yet again, I asked myself. Most of these people in the audience do not know Basque, judging by the demographic surveys. What, exactly, then are they applauding if they don't understand? Are they lead to question or rethink the place of Basque in society, or on the contrary, does hearing Basque carols at Christmas reinforce the opinion that the Basque language is appropriate for those Basques over in those mountain and for 'folkoric' things, but for normal conversation and raising your children, French should be the normal thing?

These Basque speakers greeted me enthusiastically and I'm happy to report that like in the south, Basque speakers do not switch to foreign languages like Spanish or French if you are able to maintain the conversation in Basque. One of the gentlemen I met in the line for the toilet at a cafe. He was wearing a txapela, so on a hunch I talked to him and he turned out to be a Basque speaker from Senpere, that town famous for its Herri Urrats festival, about which I have written about before in this log. He must have been in his 70s.

Despite the fact that northern Basque dialects are quite different from the dialects I have mostly been exposed to, that somewhat surprisingly posed little problem. For one, I have some exposure to northern Basque dialects, even if it is not as much as I would like, so use of northern vocabulary like mintzatu (something that Batua has adopted!) was no problem. Two, I think it is because none of them were from Zuberoa, but from Behe Nafarroa or Lapurdi. The Zuberoan dialect along with the Bizkaian dialect, as well as being on the geographical opposite points of the Basque Country, have been called the two most divergent dialects of Basque, and I would have been in real trouble if there were Zuberoans there.

This brief visit to Baiona reinforced my determination to explore more of the North Basque Country and expose myself to the Basque dialects spoken there. There's so much I don't know. I already know I'll go to Senpere this year for the music festival, but I also would like to go to the ultra rural Zuberoa to see the Maskarada festival.
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Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby guyome » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:51 am

Presentatz ací la vòsta carta entà recargar-la

I had to look up entà, apparently it is specific to the Gascon dialect.

nooj wrote:This brief visit to Baiona reinforced my determination to explore more of the North Basque Country and expose myself to the Basque dialects spoken there. There's so much I don't know. I already know I'll go to Senpere this year for the music festival, but I also would like to go to the ultra rural Zuberoa to see the Maskarada festival.

You probably already know about it but I thought I'd mention Mintzoak, "a platform for the Northern Basque Country’s oral memory", which offers hours of interviews with inhabitants of the northern provinces.
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