A short sketch made by students at the Ibarrekolanda high school, located in Bilbo. To celebrate Euskaraldia.
One girl wears the shirt with the slogan 'Euskaraz bizi gura dot' which means I want to live in Basque, in the Western Basque dialect. But despite the message, she speaks in Spanish.
The other girl, who speaks in Basque, is getting ready for her Physical Education classes where they need to do sport, so she wears a football shirt of Real Madrid (although she is an Athletic supporter).
The other girl is incredulous of her choice of t-shirt. "You're wearing the t-shirt of the team of the (Spanish) Empire! " she says.
The other girl retorts:
kamiseta honek ez nau egiten Madrilista, zureak zu euskalduna egiten ez zaituen bezala
This t shirt doesn't make me into a Real Madrid supporter just like your t shirt doesn't make you into a Basque (speaker).
The title of the skit is 'egiten duguna gara' which means we are what we do. I would add, we are what we speak.
nooj wrote:I had a conversation with a Basque woman in my town, Edurne.
Her mother was born in the Philippines, but her mother's parents were from Ibarrangelu (a town in Bizkaia) and they had moved to the Phillipines. They were Basque speakers but didn't teach her Basque in the Philippines. So her mother grew up speaking Spanish, Tagalog and English. Then she moved to Lekeitio and married a Lekeitio man, Edurne's father, who was a Basque speaker and an abertzale, a Basque nationalist.
The condition of the marriage (I don't know if she was joking or not) was that she learn Basque. So the mother took private lessons and learned it herself.
But Edurne said that because her mother was a perfectionist, she had a mental block. She didn't want to speak Basque badly and so never really spoke Basque during her entire life. She spoke in Spanish to her daughter, whilst the father spoke to her in Basque.
The problem is that in order to speak a language well, you must first speak it badly. The enemy of good is perfect.
Edurne grew up during the dictatorship, when Basque was repressed. She was in the first generation to go through the clandestine ikastolas in order to have an education through Basque. She explained to me that she and other kids had classes in the teachers' homes in secret. They rotated classes from house to house every month so as to not attract suspicion.
Back then they really had no resources and teachers had to make their own resources. Ikastolas now are highly popular because of the quality of their education, incorporating the latest teaching methods... it's astonishing how much things have changed.
I learned that Edurne is the daughter of Santi Brouard, a pediatrician and Basque politician. He was a founding member of Herri Batasuna, the defunct Basque nationalist party closely linked to ETA.
Erdune's father was assassinated in 1984 by the Spanish death squad GAL (Grupos Antiterorristas de Liberación).
The Spanish Minister of the Interior funded this organisation, with the aid of the state security apparatus (the Guardia Civil for example) to capture, torture and kill Basque nationalists and ETA members in extrajudicial fashion. It's interesting to note that it was an ostensibly left wing government, the PSOE government of Felipe González, in the Spanish democracy that waged this dirty war. Some of those responsible were convicted and imprisoned for lengthy sentences, others got off light or escaped prosecution altogether. For example of the murderers of Santi Brouard, one Rafael López Ocaña was condemned to 33 years and served 12 years, but others involved, including ranking members of the police, Rafael Masa, José Amedo, Luis Morcillo, got away with no punishment whatsoever.
There's a monument to Brouard in my town and the town sport centre is named after him.
Herri honetako seme kuttunari:
Santi, herriarena zara!
To the beloved son of this town:
Santi, you are part of the people/country/town (could be all three, herri is quite polysemous).
Gaur da euskararen eguna, eta ezin dut hobeto ospetu bertso hori berriro ipini baino. Hizkuntza eta herria, batera datoz.
Today is the day of the Basque language and there's no better way to celebrate than by reposting these words by Xalbador.
nooj wrote: Xalbador wrote these verses using his own dialect, the Low Navarran dialect. It is not like the Basque that I'm learning at the moment, but it isn't too different. He would change the way he sang as well, depending on the audience. So he would even compose in the dialect of Guipuzkoa.
Herria eta Hitzkuntza Land and Language
Iragan egun batez, ostatu batean bi lagun ari ziren ez ta ba betean; biak ziren euskaldun zintzoak ustean, hala ere ezin adi elgarren artean; entzuten egona naiz omore tristean.
A few days ago, I was in a bar Two men were having an argument Both seemed to be good Basques But they were unable to understand each other I listened to them in a sad mood
Ez dut osorik hartu baten parabola, erderaz mintza baitzen, berak jakin nola: gure herri maiteaz zuela axola, hau, bere gain baharra, bertzen men dagola, "Gora euskal-herria", frantsesez ziola.
I didn't completely get what the other one said He was speaking in a foreign tongue, he will know how exactly he said it He said that to our beloved country, he was committed. And that, although presently under the rule of others, It should be under our charge. “Long live the Basque Country” said he in French.
Bertzea oldartu zen euskera garbian: "Gure hizkuntza ez da galduko agian! Hori dugu berexik guk Euskal-herrian, Gainerakotan gaude bertzen negurrian; frantses eginak gira joan den aspaldian!"
The other one jumped in, in clear Basque: Our language will not be lost! We have only this as our difference in the Basque Country We became French otherwise, a long time ago.
Bi gizon horietan, zugaitz onekoa batek ondoan zuen, bertzeak ostoa; gauza arrado hori ez dut gustokoa, mendian bizi arren, dut ikustekoa gaztainaren aldaxkez jantzirik pagoa.
Of these two men, one came from a stout tree And at his side, the other man, who were the leaves. This strange sight was not to my liking. Although I have lived in the mountains I have yet to see a beech, Clad in the leaves of a chestnut tree.
Bat herria goratzen arrotz baten gisa, arrotz nahiak berriz herriaren hitza; gureak ja egin du, gaiten garbi mintza, lano pean bezala galduak gabiltza, ez daizke bi nagusi batean zerbiltza!
One hurrah-ed the country, but in the manner of a foreigner The other supported foreign interests, using the words of our country. Let us speak clearly, We wander lost as if we were in fog One cannot serve two masters at once.
Elgarri direlakotz bi gizon jazarri, gauza bat bera dute bi pusketan zarri; gauza bat bera dute bi pusketan zarri; erakatxi nahi dut nik puskak elgarri, gure hizkuntza eta gure Euskal-herria.
The two men, in attacking each other, They have the same one thing, broken into two pieces They have the same one thing, broken into two pieces I want to show them the pieces together. Our language and our Basque Country.
Konparatzen baitut izaite bateri. Anai-arrebak, entzun ene aho-otsa: izaite bat ez daike hezur hutsez osa; herria da gorputza, hizkuntza bihotza; bertzetik berextean bitarik bakotxa, izaite horrendako segurra hil hotza.
Because I compare them to a single being. Brothers and sisters, heed my voice. A human being cannot be completed with empty bones. The land is the body, the language its heart. If you separate them, You kill assuredly this thing that is alive.
Batzu herriaz orroit, euskeraz ahantzi bertzek euskera maite, herria gaitzetsi; hizkuntza ta herria berex ez doatzi, berek nahi daukute konpreniarazi bata bertzea gabe daizkela bizi.
Some remember the country, forgetting the language Others love the language, and reject the country The language and the country, the one does not go without the other They both want to make us understand That one cannot live without the other.
Mikel Laboa put these words of the famous bertsolari into music:
In Lekeitio I've been making some friends. One of them is a co-worker, she is from the southern Bizkaian town of Igorre. When I met her husband, I learned he was from Azkoitia. They had settled down in Lekeitio but are extremely prolific travellers. I think this is the first year in about twenty years that they hadn't travelled to a different country. They're among the most well travelled people I know.
When I went over to their house for dinner, I noticed a massive library in the living room, from which he told me I could borrow whatever I wanted. So I'm now reading an interesting book on the historical morphology of Basque verbs.
I met their teenage son and daughter. The children were born in Lekeitio and are very lucky: they speak their mother's dialect, an inland Bizkaian dialect and they also speak their dad's dialect, an inland Gipuzkoan dialect. They speak to mother and father in their respective dialects.
Only with their friends do they use the dialect of the town, a seaside Bizkaian dialect and finally in school they learn standard Basque. Thus they are quadri-dialectical. The parents told me that it was amusing for them to come across their children outside, talking a completely different way than they do at home.
When I mentioned the husband's name to another person, they told me that the husband is actually a famous Basque writer, Iñigo Aranbarri. Now the library makes sense. He also happens to love Portugal, he visits often. And so he served us Portuguese wine.
When I mentioned Miranda do Douro, he jumped in and told me about the language they speak there, Mirandese. Poor man he had no idea he was having dinner with a person obsessed with Iberian languages. But he himself is a language freak, he has a whole shelf filled with language learning material for Asturian, Catalan, Galician...!
Anyway he explained to me over the wonderful fish (bought from the fishermen's wives at the port freshly caught) how the Basque name Eneko is related to Iñaki.
Interesting story. In the Middle Ages, Eneko was Romance-ified into Iñigo. So Eneko López Loiolakoa was baptised Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola.
His Latin name was Ignatius, which bears no relationship to Eneko/Iñigo but has a strangely reminiscent phonetic resemblance. Perhaps that's why he chose to use it.
Ignatius was Spanishified into Ignacio, which is why he's more commonly known as Ignacio de Loyola, the famous saint and theologian, founder of the Jesuit Order. He was also born in Azpeitia,and that's why Iñigo was telling me about Azpeitia's favourite son and his own namesake.
Sabino Arana however didn't like the Spanish name Ignacio. He created a Basque version of the name, Iñaki which has become a common name today. Arana's linguistic interventions largely failed except for the names that he invented and which I personally find aesthetically pleasing.
Basques themselves go around saying that the Basque Country is so small, but it's really not. What happens is that the Basque speaker community is about a third of the total Basque population, and sometimes the Basque speaker community can feel small...
I asked my sister who's not a sister (a family friend who I consider a kind of sister) to send me any Korean poem that she had read recently. I can't speak to its literary merits, I don't know the author, 류시화. It's pathetic how I don't know anything about Korean literature, and yet technically it's my language.
I translated it into Basque. I wonder how many Basque authors there are translated into Korean and vice versa, and how many of these works were done through Basque-Korean and not through a third language like Spanish or French.
물속에는 물만 있는 것이 아니다 하늘에는 하늘만 있는 것이 아니다 그리고 내 안에는 나만이 있는 것이 아니다 내 안에 있는 이여 내 안에서 나를 흔드는 이여 물처럼 하늘처럼 내 깊은 곳 흘러서 은밀한 내 꿈과 만나는 이여 그대가 곁에 있어도 나는 그대가 그립다.
Uretan ez dago ura soilik Zeruan ez dago zerua soilik Eta nigan ez nago ni soilik Nigan zauden hori, nigan hegan eta dardara egiten duzun hori Ura bezala zerua bezala, nire sakonera isuri eta gero Nire barruko ametsekin lotzen duzun hori Gertu egon arren, zure falta sentitzen dut
In water there's not just water. In the sky there's not just sky. And in me there's not just me. You who are in me, you who fly and tremble in me Like water like sky, pouring into my deepest place You who meet with my inner dreams Even though you are close to me I still miss you
I read a short story by Aranese chaplain and writer Josèp Condò Sambeat, called Era isla des Diamants (1917). He was the first Aranese writer to write in Aranese, and thus is an important turning point for Aranese literature. The highest literary prize of the Val d'Aran is named after him.
The story itself I'm going to be honest, is not the most thrilling in the world but I did find the sci fi element fun, namely the convertible boat-car-plane. As a good Catholic he also doesn't miss an opportunity to shorehorn in attacks against Protestantism.
The story is about 4 Aranese friends who - after some twists and turns - end up colonising, literally, an empty island in the Phillipines that's the spitting image of the Val d'Aran. In this new Eden, they create an ideal Val d'Aran, free from the control of the Spanish state.
Josèp is clearly split between hating the Spanish mismanagement over the Val d'Aran which keeps it poor, a criticism he puts in the mouths of characters numerous times in the story, and yet he also considers himself a 'good Spaniard', and he writes bitterly about the loss of Cuba and the Phillipines to the Americans.
In this new Val d'Aran, the eponymous island of diamonds, the Catholic religion has its rightful place as state religion and Aranese is the only official language. It is also codified and standardised. In real life it took nearly 80 or so years from the author's death for some of the bases of this utopia to be actually realised.
As you can see he used the Félibrige orthography.
En Coulètje se i ensenhará er aranés, coum a lengoua ouficial dera Náua Val d’Aran; et catalá, castelhá, francés e inglés. Aguesti cinc parlás seran obligatóris ta’s que boulguen estudiá úa carrera, o aué un empléu que áje relacioun tam er exterior; è’ra isla sera independent è goubernada p’et Missiouniste principal è p’et quèfe que ét noumbrará.
Père aguéc d’ensenhá’r aranés as frares, que, tam era ilustracioun qu’auíen, lèu lou sabéren parlá, liéje è escriéue. S’héren úa gramática è un dicciounári, è atau lou pouguéren ensenhá a touti’s dera isla.
In school Aranese will be taught as the official language of the New Val d'Aran; and Catalan, Spanish, French and English. These five languages will be obligatory for those who wish to study a career or have a job that's requires dealing with the outside world; and the island will be independent and governed by the head missionary and the chief (of the indigenous group that lives on another island and that is invited to live in New Val d'Aran) that the missionary will name.
Père (one of the Aranese protagonists) had to teach Aranese to the missionaries who being educated men quickly learned to speak, read and write it. A grammar and dictionary was created and thus they could teach Aranese to all the inhabitants of the island.
The documentary 'Catalunya del Nord, la llengua enyorada' that explains the situation of the Catalan language in North Catalonia has finally come out after a long, long wait. And it's worth the watch, even if you're not interested in Catalan, for two reasons: the cinematography of the beautiful North, and the wonderful folk music of North Catalonia.
The director went through hundreds of towns in North Catalonia to talk with not the last speakers of Catalan, but certainly the last generation of Catalans who had learned the language natively when it was still the language of socialisation - with the notable exception of the Gitans, who are conspicuously absent in the documentary.
If you're interested in learning about the Rossellones dialect of Catalan, see Gramàtica del català rossellonès. It is a doctoral thesis written by the South Catalan, Gemma Gómez Duran.
Surprisingly, and movingly, she decided to write the thesis in Rossellones, which is not her native Catalan dialect, but the dialect of her informants. It is on the verge of extinction.
She doesn't explain her motives for why she wrote her thesis in the dialect she's researching but I suspect 1) to give the dialect the respect it deserves but lacks in academia 2) to help her native informants to read her thesis in case they want to, as they would have had no or little contact in Central Catalan.
At the start of her thesis, she puts a Catalan translation of a line from the great Eduardo Galeano:
El colonialisme visible et mutila sense dissimular: et prohibeix dir, et prohibeix fer, et prohibeix ser.
El colonialisme invisible, en canvi, (...) et convenç que no es pot dir, no es pot fer, no es pot ser.
Colonialism that is visible mutilates you without hiding It bans you from saying, It bans you from doing, It bans you from being,
Colonialism that is invisible however persuades you that It can't be said It can't be done It can't be
While I watched the documentary I had a wide range of emotions.
I felt hot rage when a woman recounted how her teacher broke her nose when she was 5 year old for speaking Catalan at school. She didn't even raise her voice as she recounted. As if child abuse was normal.
Sadness as people recount the break in intergenerational transmission of the language.
Intergenerational transmission is too much of an anti septic, clinical word to describe the social, emotional distance created between parents and their children when they stop speaking their native language. I personally think a large part of the problems between my mother and me have to do with the fact that she couldn't speak my language and I couldn't speak hers to the same extent that we wanted. Now imagine that with not just one family, but thousands of families in North Catalonia. Has anyone measured or is it possible to imagine the psychic trauma of an entire society being obligated to change their language?
A cold chill runs down my back, because I fear for the survival of a language that I think of as one of my own and for which I care deeply about and whose speakers I count among my friends. When I see the figures for the use of Catalan in the South Catalonia, I wonder if we're not heading to the same destination, even if by a very different winding road.
In the Spanish state we have systems and institutions that are there to supposedly keep Catalan alive. But how Catalan are they? After all, you can have a media and education system that teaches Spanish/French ideology and that just happens to do so through Catalan. Catalan would be just window dressing then.
For Catalan media, there are Catalans who believe that they're still feeding us Spanish/French state ideology but using Catalan language to make it slide down the throat easier.
Take how TV3 has chosen to describe this documentary:
El documental repassa l'evolució lingüística del català en aquesta regió de França fins a la quasi desaparició i recull el testimoni dels darrers parlants del rossellonès. És un documental d'Eugeni Casanova i David Valls coproduït per TV3
The document retraces the linguistic development of Catalan in this region of France until its near extinction, and gathers the testimonies of the last speakers of Rossellones.
"This region of France". The speakers who feature in the documentary make a point of using the words genocide, linguicide, annexation to describe the minorisation that has been committed on their homeland, so you'd want some kind of sensitivity from TV3. But no.
The North Catalan Júlia Taurinyà had a wicked riposte to how her homeland was described:
No vos perdeu aquest documental sobre el rotllo aquest de la llengua en una regió de França. Demà, a un canal regional espanyol.
Don't miss this documentary about that boring language matter "in a region of France". Available to watch tomorrow on a Spanish regional TV channel.
TV3 would hesitate, I hope, at least before describing South Catalonia as a mere region of Spain, if only because its viewers would complain, but hypocritically it has no qualms about calling North Catalonia a French region. Add to that the fact that they put this documentary in an 11pm timeslot and not primetime and it's not hard to detect some kind of negligence.
It's not only a TV3 problem, it also exists on the Basque public television, ETB.
This video is from a Basque cooking show where the South Basque Joseba Arguiñano, from Zarautz, is talking with North Basque Amaia Castorene, from Baigorri.
He flippantly says "so you know you're French" to start off, and talks about how his father used to go "to France" to eat at a restaurant and drive back on the same day.
To me she looks uncomfortable with these appelations. What if she, like many North Basques privilege their Basque identity over what state she was born in? Isn't it so rude to imply that a North Basque is French, and not... Basque?
What's clear is that her political consciousness is leagues beyond that of Arguiñano when she explains that "asko ere probatu gabe gehienak Parisen baitira, hola zentralizatua da dena Frantzian", no she doesn't have her own culinary style because everything's in Paris, so she hasn't tried everything. In France everything is very centralised, she says.
You might think the insensitivity is just the result of one blowhard but it's not, see how the video is labelled on the ETB website:
Joseba eta Amaia haien ikur frantziarren inguruan aritu dira solasean, eta Josebak bere aitak eta Ramon Rotetak astero Frantziara egiten zuten bidaia aipatzen du.
Joseba and Amaia talk about their French symbols, and Joseba says that his father and Ramon Roteta used to go to France every week.
Many South Basques don't like when they're called Spanish, and I'm certain Arguiñano wouldn't like it if someone called him Spanish and called the South Basque Country Spanish. So why the hypocrisy? Why is this acceptable on ETB, which is supposed to be nominally at least 'Euskal', Basque?
What are you complaining about, you might ask. You have your public education system in Catalan and Basque. You have your public television. What more do you want? Yes, but what is being taught in the curriculum? A South Basque who says that a North Basque is French has clearly not learned much at all from a Basque perspective. Are kids learning Basque geography, Basque history, Basque art etc or are they learning Spanish geography, history and art in Basque?
Espainol edo frantses ikuspegi politiko-administratiboa indartu eta zabal daiteke euskaraz, ikastetxeetan bezala hedabideetan. Edo beste hainbat arlotan. Elebitasuna edota gauzak euskaraz egitea ez da beti herrigintzaren berme. Gure auzia ez da Frantzia edo Espainia (bere historia, administrazioa, kultura, propaganda…) euskaraz kontatzea.
It's possible to strength and spread the Spanish/French political-administrative viewpoint, through the Basque language, whether in schools or mass media. Or other areas. Bilingualism or doing things in Basque doesn't always go towards building our nation. 'Retelling' France or Spain (it's history, administration, culture, propaganda) in Basque isn't the issue (that we're fighting for).
Euskaraz den guztiak ez du Euskal Herria egiten. Euskaraz informatzeak edo euskaraz hezteak berak ez du berez bermatzen herri ikuspegia garatzea. Alabaina, euskaraz egin daiteke kazetaritza erregionalista bat:
Everything done through the medium of Basque does not work towards creating the Basque Country. Informing in Basque or educating in Basque by itself doesn't develop a national point of view. Actually, you can do regionalist journalism in Basque.
And that's the problem isn't it. Are ETB and TV3 merely regionalist media subordinated to the Spanish state, or are they the media of the people and for the people? Will they ever be our national media?
As we can see the problem is not just that the population of Spanish/French/Italian speakers outnumbers the Catalan speaking population, it's that the Catalan speaking population (counted as habitual speakers) is decreasing.
Some of that must be due to emigration and natural death, but some of that loss has to do with Catalan speakers who for some reason do not make Catalan their language of habitual use.
The causes are multiple. In the case of many speakers, they don't have the opportunities to use it. And that must be tackled head on.
But even where there are opportunities, maybe they are discouraged and demotivated psychologically.
It's nice to think that you'll be a language activist and use Catalan always, and we need more of those people, but I think most people will choose the easy way out.
Imagine you go into a shoe store and you ask to get some measurements, in Catalan. The store clerk says to you in Spanish, French and Italian that they don't understand you. What do you do? Do you ask if there is someone who does speak Catalan? Do you persist and slooooowly speak Catalan? After all the majority of residents within North and South Catalonia and Alguer say they understand Catalan. There's no reason for them to say that they don't understand Catalan unless they're a new immigrant. Do you push and ask them why they don't understand Catalan? Do you leave the store and find another store?
Or do you change languages and go the easy route to get your measurements?
Everyday there's a million little concessions given to the Spanish, French and Italian languages that saps the use of Catalan. Too many compromises. Too many Catalan speakers mistakenly believing they are being polite in accommodating to the language of the other.
I've read a proposal that I think is worth considering. And that's a language strike. Put simply, stop using Spanish, French and Italian. For a few weeks, like in Euskaraldia. And do it in an organised, conscious, massive scale. Like the women's strike on sex in Aristophanes' Lysistrata.
Even a few hundred thousand Catalan speakers refusing to speak a language other than Catalan has the potential to disrupt society on a significant scale. Imagine half the clientele in a business using Catalan and not changing languages no matter the cost. Imagine half the population of Barcelona deciding to languages overnight, so that in their workplace, in their commerce, with their friends, they pretend as if they were monolinguals.
The hoped for benefits are to immediately push up the use of Catalan in reality, but also spark a social revolution that makes this increase in use permanent.
A picture I took yesterday at the cemetery of the town of Mendexa. Above the entrance, a message to the living from the dead. It is written in the Bizkaian dialect.
Anayaak zuek orain zariana gu lenguinian/ gu orain gariana zuek laster izango zara/dirialaco labur, larri ta contauak gure lurreko egunak.
Brothers, what you are now, we once were What we are now, you shall be soon Because our days on Earth are short, hard and limited.
PTN (pray for us a Pater Noster)
What's confusing is the use of zuek (second personal plural pronoun, youse) with zara later on (today, the second person singular conjugation of izan, to be).
It's the equivalent of saying vosotros and then saying eres instead of sois today, a lack of verbal concordance and thus ungrammatical.
However, until about a hundred years ago, in Bizkaian dialects it was zu zara AND zuek zara, thus the same verbal form could be used for both plural and singular persons. Zarete and zarie, the ones I'm used to, are new forms that speakers created to clearly mark this potentially confusing redundancy.