Basque and Guarani

Continue or start your personal language log here, including logs for challenge participants
Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Sat Feb 13, 2021 2:02 am

Song from 1971. The singer is Lupe, at the time of the recording 14 years old.

The lyrics were written by Begoña Bilbao, from the sea town of Bermeo, Bizkaia where Lupe is also from, and so the lyrics are in Bizkaian dialect.

Begoña wrote in 2004 a novel 'Palestina, zure mina' (Palestine, your pain) which has the Palestinian struggle as its backdrop. A book read in schools by Basque children.

I'm not going to point out all the dialectical differences from standard Basque, but only a few verb forms for people who are learning the standard Basque dialect and unfamiliar with other dialects.

Gogoraten naz beti
Itxas ertzean
Esan neutsun 'maitia'
Ta bihotza izartu zan
Ez, ez dot gura ahaztu
Ez, maitasun hau
Nigana etorri zana
Ta bihotzak itxi ezin dau
Gu barriro itzuliko gara
Gogoratzen ordu atseginenak
Eskuak lotuta
Itsas ertzean
Esango deutsut 'maite zaitut'

neutsun - nizun
dau - du
deutsut - dizut

I always remember
By the sea
I said to you 'my love'
And my heart awoke
No, I don't want to forget
No, this love
That came to me
And my heart can't abandon it
We will return again
Remembering the best hours
Hands linked
By the sea
I will say to you 'I love you'.

A contemporary of Lupe and my favourite musical discovery of last year was Estitxu, the daughter of South Basque politician Manu Robles-Arangiz and a musician mother, Luisa Bernaola, who fled to the North Basque Country after the Spanish Civil War.

Estitxu was born in the Lapurdi town of Beskoitze, whence her nickname, 'Beskoitzeko urretxindorra' (the nightingale of Beskoitze). In Beskoitze they speak a Nafar-Lapurtera dialect, as shown in the following song.

But at home they must have continued speaking a Bizkaian dialect, because she uses 'gura izan' here, which is something that is characteristic of Bizkaian dialect, and no other Basque dialect c.f. Lupe's ez dot gura ahaztu. In a song that is otherwise written in the normal dialect of her North Basque home, it must be a conscious wink to her origins.

She died in 1993, only 48 years old because of cancer.

She had an enormous impact on the Basque singer-songwriter community of the 70s, and it's not difficult to see why. Her voice is incredible.

Zutan dut pentsatzen
Ene maitea
Zuri eman dautzut nere bizia

Badakit zure maitasuna ez dela
Nik gura nukeen bezain azkarra
Joanen zira, negua heltzean

Bainan ez joan
zuhaitzetako azkenengo orriak
lurrerarte erori baino lehen
ordurarte zaude hemen

dautzut - dizut

I think of you
My love
I have given you my life

I know your love is not
As fast as I'd like
You will go when winter comes

But don't leave
Before the last leaves of the trees fall
Stay here until then
With me
2 x

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Sat Feb 13, 2021 3:01 pm

How can you talk about Basque music of the 60s and 70s without Lourdes Iriondo? A singer songwriter from Donostia, Gipuzkoa. Apart from her own solo career, she also formed part of an important band in the history of Basque contemporary music, Ez Dok Amairu. Ez Dok Amairu featured some of the best singers and songwriters of their generation and brought the Catalan Nova Cançó style to the Basque Country. Band members included her husband Xabier Lete, Mikel Laboa, Benito Lertxundi...

Here she sings a cover of a song by Gorka Knörr. The song is called Azken agurraren negarra (lament of the last goodbye) and is seemingly about the Basque soldiers who fought for France in WW1.

Knörr is an interesting man, a former singer and also Basque nationalist politician. He was born in Catalonia to a Basque father and Catalan mother. He only started learning Basque when he was 19. This song however is not written in any Basque dialect of the South, but as thematically appropriate, in a northern variety of Basque.

Nora zoaz, eskual semea,
arma hori eskutan?
Armen hartzera deitzen naute
frantsen aldera.
Eskualerritik urrunduz,
ta atzerrira joanak,
a ze negarra entzunen duzu

Morts pour la patrie,
eskuara baizik etzakiten haiek,

Gure historian zehar
zenbat malko ta ezbehar;
Landetaratu gindutenekila
dugu orai hil behar.
Bere ama agurtu du
etxolako atarian;
bere amak bisitatuko du
atzerriko hilobian.

Where are you going,
Basque son
With that weapon in your hand?
They call me to take up arms
To fight for France.

Leaving the Basque Country behind
You who are gone to foreign places
Ah, what a lament you shall hear
In the Basque villages

"Morts pour la patrie"
They only knew how to speak Basque

Throughout our history
So many tears and misfortunes
Now we must die
With those who exiled us to the Landas
He said goodbye to his mother
At the door of the hut
His mother will visit him
At a foreign grave.

eskuara baizik etzakiten haiek - many of the Basque men who fought in WW1 were monolingual in Basque.

Landetaratu gindutenekila - in standard Basque gintuztenekin. This -kila(n) associative ending is found in various northern Basque dialects, such as Zuberoan and Nafar-Lapurtera.

This is a reference to the mass deportation of Basques from Lapurdi in 1794 carried out by French revolutionary leaders as punishment for 'deserters' in the War of the Pyrenees of the time. Whole towns in Lapurdi were emptied out. The Basques who survived the deportation were put to involuntary labour. The devastating economic effects caused by this caused many Basques to leave for the Americas. For more information, see the 2016 book La deportation des Basques sous la Terreur by Alexandre de La Cerda.

"Morts pour la patrie" - in the North Basque Country, I've seen countless examples of war monuments with these words on it.
3 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Sun Feb 14, 2021 4:16 pm



Oso latza izan da - it was very hard (describing his torture)


Nik uste diat hiltzekotan nagoela - I think I'm dying. Arregi uses the hitanoa conjugation used with friends.

Karga gehiegi naiz zuentzat - I'm a dead weight for you guys


Iraultza ala hil! - revolution or death!

Peke, herriak ez du barkatuko! - Frankie, (Francisco Franco), the people will not forgive this!

Herri armatua, inoiz ez zanpatua! - an armed people is a people that will never be oppressed!

Joxe Arregi was a member of ETA, the Basque terrorist group. He was arrested in 1981. He was tortured at the Carabanchel prison in Madrid during 9 days by as many as 73 policemen. They brought him subsequently to the prison hospital ward, where three of his fellow ETA prisoners looked after him and wrote an account of his condition. One day after, on the 13th of February, Arregi died as a result of his injuries. The official autopsy said he died of pneumonia.

To prove that Arregi was tortured, the same night that he was buried, Juan Kruz Unzurrunzaga and Bixente Ameztoi dug his coffin out, opened it and took photos of the injuries. You can see them in this newspaper article (warning: graphic images of torture).

Two police officers were charged and sentenced for the torture, in 1989: Juan Antonio Gil Rubiales and Julián Marín Ríos. They served four months in prison, and up to 3 years of suspension of pay.

Subsequently they returned back to service, when the government of Felipe González pardoned them. Juan Antonio Gil Rubiales for example died in 2008. At the time he was the Comisario Jefe Provincial de la Policía in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Canary Islands. He was buried with full police honours.

Why am I writing about this? Because ever since Arregi's murder, the 13th of February has been the day in the Basque Country for commemorating the victims of torture. Coincidentally yesterday, the 13th of February, Enrique Rodríguez Galindo died as a result of COVID-19.


Who was he? The head of the infamous and feared Intxaurrondo police station (Guardia Civil, the Spanish gendarmerie) in Donostia (San Sebastián). Feared and loathed because people were kidnapped and tortured there. He was steadily promoted until reaching the position a brigadier general in 1995. He was ultimately tried and convicted in 2000 for - among other things such as narcotrafficking - the kidnapping, torture and murder of two suspected members of ETA, Joxean Lasa and Joxi Zabala in 1983.

He was sentenced to 71 years of prison. He was not charged for the dozens of other allegations of torture and murder. Galindo was let out after only 4 years due to 'health problems', and lived happily as a free man for 12 years until his death yesterday.

Check the dates and you'll see that we're not talking about the darkest days of the Franco dictatorship when police could make you disappear. We're talking about the late 80s and 90s, when the Spanish democracy created death squads and terrorised the Basque populace.

Total impunity for murderers. Protection for torturers. This is Spain.

You want to know what the worst part of it is? Since yesterday I've been reading Spanish language newspapers, big ones, that talk of his 'heroic actions' fighting ETA and unfortunately how he found himself mired in 'unorthodox methods' that tarnished his reputation. I've been reading police organisations lauding him 'rest in peace my General, at your orders'. I'm living in a country with thousands, possibly millions of people, who don't think torture is wrong, who don't think extrajudicial murder is wrong or who would like to see me or people who think like me dead. I'm supposed to want to share the same country with them?
3 x

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:16 pm

Dialect accommodation.

Arkaitz Agerretxe-Colina is a neuropsychologist living and and working in Baiona, specifically to do with addiction related research.

He's from the South Basque Country, and although I haven't been able to find where exactly, I'd say he's somewhere from Gipuzkoa based on some dialectical features e.g. (-an at the ending of words like oraindikan).

Well in this recent interview about CBD (Cannabidiol) sales in France you can see him making some changes in his speech. Compare how he speaks there to how he speaks here when being interviewed with South Basques in 2012.

Discourse markers - bon, enfin vs bueno
Palatalisation - baina, maila vs baiña, mailla
Quantifiers - anitz, anitzetan vs asko, askotan
Syntax - see for example how he makes causal clauses: bait- (Eastern dialects) vs clause final eta and -delako (Western dialects).
Lexical - the use of words like xekatu 'to search', emendatu 'to increase', or erran vs esan.
Change of auxiliary - ukan vs izan
Intonation - I think there's even a change in intonation, although I can't scientifically (phonetically) demonstrate it, just a subjective impression.

Now these changes are not enough to not betray where he comes from.

But I do find it interesting how he chooses to accomodate to his audience here, especially when he doesn't do most of these changes in this other interview with the same North Basque radio, two years before. What is the reason for this shift? I'd like to ask him!

Also, how many Basque speakers are capable, if they were bothered or motivated enough, to accomodate a speaker of another dialect?
1 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Euskara (berriro)

Postby nooj » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:41 pm

guyome wrote: I remember seeing some news about Welsh language activists (maybe politicians even, Plaid Cymru?) discussing the possibility of limiting the number of non Welsh speakers buying homes in Welsh speaking areas. Not sure anything came out of it since it quickly runs into philosophical (can you really forbid some people from buying a house anywhere in their own country based solely on the language they speak?) and economical problems (real estate development and people moving in supposedly bringing much needed money to the area).

Here is a statement given out by the Celtic organisations Misneach (Ireland), Misneachd (Scotland), Mebyon Kernow (Cornwall) and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Wales) last year. I agree with each and every proposal, much of which really comes to down giving more autonomous control over who can come, and under what conditions. If they don't fix this issue, I'm not sure Scottish Gaelic for example will survive in the Outer Hebrides. And if it doesn't survive there, I doubt it'll survive anywhere.

Celtic Housing Charter – the right to a home

The rural housing crisis is a huge problem that threatens the future of Celtic language-speaking communities.
We as organizations representing the minority languages of the Celtic nations, declare that urgent action must be taken. The damage done to our languages and their communities must be undone - including in some areas where our languages are no longer spoken.
Homelessness is increasing, with more and more people unable to afford to live in their native areas. We regret that this is a result of the policies of the devolved and central governments. They include austerity and decades of economic inequality that disadvantage our rural communities.
We therefore call on our governments to adopt a series of policies to ensure that the people who live and work here including those belonging to marginalized and minority communities can afford to stay in their communities. This would be for the benefit of our languages and the prosperity of our communities, with due regard to equality of opportunity regardless of class, race or gender. Those measures should include:
- cap the percentage of second or holiday homes within a community;
- changing the definition of affordable housing and managing rent prices so that they are affordable to people on local wages
- further regulating and introducing a punitive tax on the use of houses primarily or exclusively for AirBnB, including defining the use of houses or flats as a whole as second homes or AirBnB
- develop a strategic plan for housing and tourism in rural areas to counter the fact that many houses have been taken out of the locally available housing stock
- devolve planning powers, including setting housing targets, to the most appropriate local level, and require that language planning is mandatory;
- close any weaknesses or loopholes in the law that allow taxes to be avoided
- property legislation to control prices, specific supports for minority language speakers to remain in their communities and to ensure the use of empty and existing housing before new development is undertaken
- return social housing stock to public ownership, return underused stock to public ownership, and all ‘new builds’ to include a major element of public ownership
- a tax on landlords' profits to invest in bringing empty and second homes back into use for communities and those who live and work in them
- incentives to renovate and / or build sustainable housing in terms of material and method of construction;
- penalties for refusal to let property to members of disadvantaged communities such as travellers or refugees.

To me, the immigration question is a bit the elephant in the room. A language spoken by, say, 20% of the population and already under huge pressure from a "bigger" language is probably not going to do well if the area sees a large influx of people from the outside, who have objectively no real incentive to learn said smaller language.

There's two different things.

One thing is second residences bought by tourists (and let's not forget the people who sell houses/land to them, they must be blamed as well). These people don't give a crap about learning the language or the native culture. And they won't care no matter what incentive, because they're not even going to live there except for one or two months of the year. They're not residents, they're tourists. I have no sympathy for them. They're coming and 'stealing' land.

Another thing are immigrants, who are coming to live for long periods of time. If they're not learning the language, the problem is largely not with them. Well, yes the linguistic supremacist ones are problematic, who won't want to integrate no matter what, because their ideological position is that your language is inferior and deserves to remain in that inferior position. I'm not saying those linguistic supremacist immigrants aren't a problem, I think in the North Basque Country a large part of the public opposition to the Basque language might come from this section of foreigners who think 'this is France, we should speak only French'. But I think the main problem is elsewhere.

The children of immigrants to South Catalonia, whether they're from Morocco, Bolivia or Sweden, have to learn Catalan. The adult immigrants to the South Basque Country sometimes see advantages to learning Basque in terms of employment because Basque is an official language and can offer them jobs in the administration, health care, education and in other areas. Adults can get their courses at the AEK schools subsidised by their town administration. And their children usually learn Basque in some form, mostly through the immersion model of the school system.

Is it perfect? Obviously not. There are serious problems, Basque and Catalan are in my opinion barely holding their own in Spain. But at least there are a few reasons for adult immigrants to want to, or have to, learn the language, and one very big reason (school) for children to learn the language.

Immigration, whether internal from other parts of the French or Spanish state, or external from other parts of the world, become unmanageable when you give absolutely no reason and/or opportunities to immigrants to learn the languages.

We're talking after all about minoritised languages, and until they're helped to become not minoritised, I don't expect most foreigners or immigrants to be able to/want to learn a language that the native society itself has inferiorised.

The bare minimum is making Basque official in the North Basque Country, or Catalan official in North Catalonia. So I don't blame the foreigners and immigrants and I don't think Basque language organisations can or should place the blame on French or foreign immigrants for the poor situation of Basque. I blame the monolingual French state.

Similarly the disastrous situation of Basque in the South Basque Country in the 20th century cannot fairly be blamed on the massive waves of Spanish speaking immigrants themselves. The culprit was the monolingual Spanish state.
1 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Basque and Guarani

Postby nooj » Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:24 am

I knew there were Paraguayan immigrants in my town but it's not like I could just march up to anyone in the street and ask them, hey are you Paraguayan, do you speak Guarani? I mean you could, but I'm a bit shy. Today I went to the local ice cream shop and whilst waiting outside for a client to leave so that I could go in, I noticed they were speaking in Spanish, which is unusual in my town because normally people speak to shop assistants in Basque. Before today I only spoke to the shop worker in Basque, as I assumed he was from the town, and he always gave me my ice cream in Basque, so he gave me no reason to think otherwise.

So I went in and asked the assistant if he was born here, and he said no, that he was actually Paraguayan. It turns out the other client was from Paraguay as well, which is why they were speaking in Spanish. The ice cream shop worker learned Basque on his own. He said to me he wished he knew more, but he can't go to the euskaltegi because the hours clash with his schedule.

He asked me what my language was, and I said Korean and English. He told me that he was from a town in Paraguay right on the Brazilian border and that in his town there were Koreans who went from house to house selling things. And indeed in Madrid, at a Korean church, I met some Paraguayan Koreans! He's trilingual in Guarani (mother language), Spanish (learned in school) and Portuguese, and also of course some Basque.

Well he told me that I should learn Guarani. Now normally us immigrants to the town are a bit shy about our languages. We don't tell people to learn our languages, but you can hear Guarani, Sahrawi Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Amazigh, Urdu, Pashto, Portuguese, Romanian, Wolof, Fula etc. Well the worker had no problem at all telling me directly to learn Guarani and I was like, yessir! It gave me a direct excuse to learn, unlike the vague knowledge that there were Paraguayans in the town. He taught me some expressions and my first words in Guarani: mba'éichapa, meaning good morning.

What resources to use? I have A Grammar of Paraguayan Guarani (2020) by Bruno Estigarribia, an Argentinian linguist and for now that's all I need. It's one of the most user friendly grammars I've seen. His father is Paraguayan and a speaker of Guarani. And judging by that surname his father has a distant Basque ancestor too.

Goals? I want to at least be able to have a chat!

Obviously my main focus is on Basque. If I focus too much on any other language, it'll detract away from Basque. For now, I'll leave to the side all my other languages that I watch/listen/read for relaxation or for maintenance and use Guarani as my relaxation language. I think that'll give me enough time to work on Guarani whilst minimally subtracting away from time that I'd otherwise spend on Basque.

The history of my language learning is one of 99% failures and 1% success. When I say failure, I mean in the sense that I've started learning some languages but then left them sooner or later, not that a language has befuddled me into thinking 'no, this is impossible to learn'. Success or failure for me is a matter of persistence and correct dosage of motivation.

And the 1% are those languages that for whatever reason I kept going with them. Hopefully I don't give up on Guarani after a couple of months.
9 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Basque and Guarani

Postby nooj » Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:59 am

Yesterday I was in a church in the town of Ispaster and noticed a piece of paper on one of the pews. It was the new translation of the Pater Noster. The Diocesis of Bilbao had some lines changed last year.

The Pater Noster they use in Bizkaian churches is written in a Bizkaian dialect and by that I mean the Western Basque dialect. Can't forget that the 'Bizkaian' dialect came from Araba and is still spoken there!

I've bolded the parts that are different from standard Basque, some of the differences are mere cosmetic or follow the Western orthographical tradition, others are a reflection of the Western dialect's deeper grammatical differences.

Gure Aita, zeruetan zarana:
santu izan bedi zure izena,
etor bedi zure erreinua,
egin bedi zure nahia
zeruan bezala lurrean ere.
Emoiguzu gaur
egun honetako ogia;
parkatu gure zorrak,
geuk ere geure zordunei
parkatzen deutsegu ezkero
Ez eiguzu itzi
tentazinoan jausten,
baina atara gagizuz gatzetik

zarana - zarena

Emoiguzu - emaguzu

parkatu - barkatu

deutsegu - dizkiogu. In the Western dialect, the root of the trivalent verb forms is eutsi, which gives you forms like deustezu (or dostezu) for didazu, deutsu (or dotsu) for dizu.

eiguzu - iezaguzu. In Western dialect, the root for imperatives is egin.

itzi - utzi. I'll summarise the explanation of a Basque linguist that I read.

In the Central dialect (Gipizkoan), the verb utzi 'to leave, to let' followed this evolution, where * are postulated forms and those without asterisks are attested forms either exisiting today or in the past.

*edutzi > *eutzi > utzi

However in the Western dialect, *eutzi underwent a different evolution:

*Eutzi > *eitzi > etxi > itxi (or here, itzi)

This particular phonetic evolution in the Western dialect lends itself to confusion when talking with speakers of other dialects, because itxi happens to mean in the Central dialect, 'to close'.

*Hersi > hertsi > *etxi > itxi

This means when a Bizkaian says itxi, thinking they're saying 'to leave', the Gipizkoan hears itxi, thinking that they mean 'to close'.

There's a meme that makes fun of this:


The Bizkaian woman asks her partner to get up and leave the door open ("itxi atie zabalik"), the Gipizkoan man hears that as her asking him to get up and close the door open. A paradox, sparking his existential crisis. For her partner to have understood her, she would have to say in his dialect "utzi atea zabalik".

If the word for 'to leave' in Western Basque has coincidentally evolved to be identical with the word for 'to close' in Central dialects, how do you say 'to close' in Western? Via a Latinate loan: zarratu or zarrau or as in Lekeitio, zarra.

tentazinoan - in Western dialect, Latinate loanwords ending in -tiō, including later Spanish words in -ción are reliably borrowed via the -iño suffix.

jausten - erortzen. Different verbs, jausi vs erori.

atara gagizuz - atera gaitzazu. See above what I said about egin in the imperatives. There's one more thing here that differentiates Western from other dialects, the standard uses the affix (infix?) -tza- to mark plural. In Western however, the plural is marked by -z as a suffix i.e. gagizu + z.

gatzetik - gaitzetik.

Here's a 1596 version by the Araban author Joan Pérez Betolaza writing in Western dialect. Despite 400 years of time separation and the different orthography and some different word choices (libradu = atara, borondatea = nahia), everything here is completely understandable, completely contemporary even.

Ayta gurea
Ceruetan çagoçana
Satificadu içandila çure içena
Etorvidi gugana çure Ereynua
Eguinvidi çure borondatea
nolan Ceruan, alan lurrean
Emon eguiguçu egunean eguneango gure oguia
da parcatu eguiguçuz gure pecatuac
guc gueure çordunay parquetan deusteguna leguez
da echiezeyguçu jausten tentacinoan
baya libradu guaiguiçuz gach gustiric
Amen Iesus.
4 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Basque and Guarani

Postby nooj » Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:28 pm

I'm currently on page 129 of the 391 page Guarani grammar and immensely enjoying it. Looking ahead at the index I see I'm about to hit the meaty centre: the verbal system, which is agglutinative and has noun-incorporation (remains of its original polysynthetical typology) and evidentiality... it's a cool language. There's always the heady wow period you get when you just start looking into a language, of course, but Guarani is legitimately cool.

However also looking ahead, I've been looking for online dictionaries with audio and I haven't found any yet, which would be immensely useful for the learner. Oh yeah, Guarani has nasal harmony... that's awesome!

In general for a language spoken by up to six million people, sadly Guarani seems to have less learning resources even in Spanish, than Basque, which has about a sixth of the speaker base. I think us Basque learners are quite spoilt in some respects.

It's disappointing, but life tends to be disappointing, so what's new? You can't let that stop you, otherwise you'll only be able to learn like ten languages that really have all the resources you could ever want.

Here's the bibliography at the end of the grammar if you want to explore by yourself. Notice the comparative paucity of online media compared to e.g. Finnish or Norwegian.

Even though Paraguayan Guarani is among the two or three most widely spoken indigenous languages in the Americas, and it is the only one spoken by a non-indigenous majority, no book-length works on the language exist that are accessible to a broad English-speaking audience. For example, currently, there is no book-length general introduction to Guarani language and culture that is accessible to a non-specialist English- speaking audience. For that reason, I give below a few resources, some in languages other than English, that readers interested in learning more about Guarani may find useful.

General introductions

Palacios Alcaine, Azucena. 1999. Introducción a la lengua y cultura guaraníes. Valencia: Universitat de València. [In Spanish]. Zajícová, Lenka. 2009. El bilingüismo paraguayo: usos y actitudes hacia el guaraní y el castellano. Madrid: Iberoamericana. [In Spanish].


The only phrasebook I know of for Paraguayan Guarani is the following: Lustig, Wolf, and Michael Blümke. 2013. Guarani für Paraguay Wort für Wort (Reise-Know-how Series 34). Bielefeld: Kauderwelsch/Verlagsgruppe Reise Know-How. With Audio CD. [In German].

Textbooks and online courses

Blair, Robert W., Charles R. Graham, Delbert H. Groberg, Carlos Z. Gomez, and Carlos R. Espínola. 1968. Guarani Basic Course. Part I. Washington, DC: Peace Corps. Online. Blair, Robert W., Charles R. Graham, Delbert H. Groberg, Carlos Z. Gomez, and Carlos R. Espínola. 1968. Guarani Basic Course. Part II. Washington, DC: Peace Corps. Online. Melià, Bartomeu, Luis Farré, and Alfonso Pérez. 1997. El guaraní a su alcance. 14th ed. Asunción: Centro de Estudios Paraguayos “Antonio Guasch” (CEPAG). [In Spanish].
Ortiz, Diego, Domingo Aguilera, and Elda Marecos. 1991. Hablemos el guaraní. Curso completo en cuatro niveles para extranjeros. Segundo nivel. Asunción: CEPAG. With Audio CD. [In Spanish]. Ortiz, Diego, Domingo Aguilera, and Elda Marecos. 1995. Hablemos el guaraní. Curso completo en cuatro niveles para extranjeros. Segundo nivel. Asunción: CEPAG. With Audio CD. [In Spanish]. Ortiz, Diego, Domingo Aguilera, and Elda Marecos. 1995. Hablemos el guaraní. Curso completo en cuatro niveles para extranjeros. Tercer nivel. Asunción: CEPAG. [In Spanish]. Ortiz, Diego, Domingo Aguilera, and Elda Marecos. 1995. Hablemos el guaraní. Curso completo en cuatro niveles para extranjeros. Cuarto nivel. Asunción: CEPAG. [In Spanish]. Verón, Miguel A. 2006. Curso Práctico de Lengua Guarani. San Lorenzo, Paraguay: Fundación Yvy Marãe'y˜. [In Spanish].


Ávalos Ocampos, Celso. 2017. Ñe'˜eryruguasu (Gran diccionario) Guaraní- Español Español Guaraní. Asunción: El Lector. [In Spanish]. Britton, A. Scott. 2005. Guaraní Concise Dictionary. New York: Hippocrene Books. iGuarani. Online. (Guarani-Spanish). Krivoshein de Canese, Natalia, and Feliciano Acosta Alcaraz. 2018. Ñe'˜eryru avañe'˜e-karaiñe'˜e karaiñe'˜e-avañe'˜e. Diccionario guaraní- español español guaraní. Asunción: Instituto Superior de Lenguas, Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Colección Ñemity. [In Spanish]. Professor Wolf Lustig’s Interactive Guarani Dictionary. Online: (Trilingual Guarani-Spanish-German).


Ayala, José V. 1996. Gramática Guaraní. Buenos Aires: Ministerio de Educación y Cultura de la Nación de la República Argentina. [In Spanish]. Krivoshein de Canese, Natalia, and Feliciano Acosta Alcaraz. 2007. Gramática guaraní. Asunción: Instituto Superior de Lenguas, Universidad Nacional de Asunción. [In Spanish]. Liuzzi, Silvio M. 2006. Guaraní elemental: Vocabulario y gramática. Corrientes, Argentina: Moglia Ediciones. [In Spanish].
Kallfell, Guido. 2016. Cómo Hablan Los Paraguayos Con Dos Lenguas? Gramática Del Jopara. Asunción: Centro de Estudios Antropológicos de la Universidad Católica (CEADUC). [In Spanish]. Kallfell, Guido. 2011. Grammatik des Jopara: gesprochenes Guaraní und Spanisch in Paraguay. Frankfurt am Mein: Peter Lang. [In German].

Linguistic overviews

Estigarribia, Bruno, and Justin Pinta. 2017. Guarani Linguistics in the 21st Century. Leiden: Brill.

Online resources

ABC Remiandu (Newspaper ABC’s section on Paraguay). http://www.

YouTube channels with content in Guarani:

• David Galeano Olivera • PARAGUAY TV • cafeterambarete • ayvuguarani

Online bookshops
Guarani Raity.
3 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Basque and Guarani

Postby nooj » Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:01 pm

In 1963 two Swedish film makers, Dan Grenholm and Lennart Olson came to the Basque Country to make two documentaries for Sveriges Radio TV: Basker and Bonde i Baskerland. Since then, the film fell off the radar. But film was recovered recently and reshown in the Basque Country.

Here is a modern trailer:

The documentarists focused on the Basque culture that most caught their eye/ears: dancing, cuisine, bertsolaritza, music, artisans etc.

In the following clip you see fishermen from the fishing port of Ondarroa. They are singing in the Ondarroa dialect. I don't think there's many families in Ondarroa who doesn't have a father or brother or uncle or grandfather who worked as a fisherman. It's the same in Lekeitio, today there is precisely one big fishing boat, in its heyday there were 23 fishing boats going out everyday, although it seems hard to imagine today. The port is very quiet and peaceful today.

According to a family member who identifies the singers by name (some of whom are still alive), the footage was shot in the old Txartangu bar, where today the Txist supermarket is located. Other times the men would go to the port warehouses, and they would post a man by the window to watch for the police, so that they could not be overheared singing in Basque. This was during the dictatorship where Basque language was actively suppressed.

The first song is a pastiche of two traditional songs from the Ondarroa repertoire. The first part is a passage taken from a song called Pittu zaharraren semeak (the sons of old man Pittu). It talks about three fishermen brothers. Pay attention to the irrintzi, a traditional Basque scream, that one of the men lets out!

Jendiak esan arren
hau ta gero bestia,
Joakinek harrapatu
beti langostia. (bis)

Itsaso ta lihorrez,
egunez eta gabez
beti gabiz poz-pozik.
Ondasunez, maitasunez, alaitasunez,
gure herria goratzen.

Although people say
This one brother or that other brother,
it's Joakin who always caught the lobster

Whether on the sea or land
Day or night
We're always happy
With health, love, happiness
Praising our town

The next song seems to be taken from a bertso by Ondarroan writer Andoni Basterretxea (1914-2009). The bertso describes an alguacil in the 1920s, a police officer I guess, called Matxin (Martín in Spanish) whose job was to make sure the children went to school. They didn't, they usually just played in the town river. He must have somehow imprinted himself in the collective consciousness of that time, perhaps helped by the fact that he was a Spanish speaker and didn't speak Basque, something rare. He is nicknamed here Matxin Plaka.

Matxinplaka, txipli-txapla.
Txipli-txapla, Matxinplaka.
La la la laralala
Matxin mozkorti.

Kontuz mutilak, bizkortu hainkak,
hona badator, begira zorrotz.

Bolo-bolo boletan,
ondarrutarrak kantetan.

'Matxinplaka', splish splash
Splish splash, 'Matxinplaka'
La la la laralala
Drunk Matxin

Careful children, run faster
He's coming, with a mean look
Here, there, playing bowling
Ondarroans in song!

The next song is a traditional fishing song, Arrain saltzailea (fishmonger). The dialect is Gipuzkoan. It's extremely common for Basques to sing songs in dialects other than their own. The narrator of the song is a woman, and yet a male chorus is singing her part. Also you can see their breaths, it must have been cold!

Ni naiz emakume bat
Arrain saltzailea beti
Marinelak itsasotik
Dakarren guztia

Nahi bisigu legatza eta
Atun, sardinia
Txipiroi handiegia
Bokarta, aingiria

Itsaso handia handiagorik
Harrapatzen banau azpian
bai nago galdurik

I am a woman
Who always sells fish
Everything that the fisherman
Brings from the sea

Whether it's seabream or cod
Tuna or sardines
Squids that are too big
Anchovy or eels

If the great sea were to become greater (i.e. a storm)
If it takes me under
Indeed I shall be lost
2 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Brown Belt
Posts: 1047
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:59 pm
Languages: english (n)
x 2454

Re: Basque and Guarani

Postby nooj » Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:58 pm

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the death of the last native speaker of one of the dialect groups of Basque. Her name was Fidela Bernat, she died in 1991 at the age of 93.

Erronkari dialect used to be spoken in the Erronkibar valley, in the following map, just below the bright yellow Zuberoan dialect group (here it's not given a colour here because it's classified as extinct). And indeed Erronkari Basque speakers, especially women, had regular contact with Zuberoan speakers across the border, in order to make alpargatak , a kind of traditional shoe. Fidela Bernat herself was one of them.

I think her story is one that should be taken as a warning story for the entire Basque Country. Today, in the 21st century just as in the 20th century, Basque is endangered. Let me clarify, macro-dialectical groups aren't lost every day, but there are dozens of towns across the Basque Country that now have a few, old speakers of Basque. Medium sized, regional dialectical groups and microdialects can evaporate within one generation, because that's all it takes to kill a language.


In a later post I'd like to explain the unique characteristics of this dialect, but for now you can hear Fidela Bernat here:

On this anniversary, Zuberoan writer Allande Sokarros, writing in Zuberoan, asks why her dialect can't be revived.

Hüskara galdü zen... bena zentako ez lizate arrapitzarazten ahal? Anartean, Züberoako eüskara oranokoan bizi da...

Standard Basque and English translation:

Euskara galdu zen...baina zergatik ez litzateke errepiztu ahalko? Bitartean, Zuberoako euskara oraingoz bizi da...

Her Basque was lost...but why can't it be revived? Meanwhile, Zuberoan Basque is alive for now...

Fidela Bernat lived long enough for linguists to come and study her dialect, and make precious audio recordings. Her dialect was documented (but not enough, never enough!) to such an extent that there is enough to revive it or better said, to recreate it. It will never be the same Basque dialect, obviously.

The important thing is there is some community interest in reviving the dialect. In the Erronkibar valley today, there are about 1500 inhabitants, of which one out of five are Basque speakers, all new speakers (hence having learned the standard Basque) or from outside the valley and thus speaking other dialects of Basque. Well, there is a local community group working to revive Basque in the valley, including its native dialect, as the name suggests (uskara and not euskara): Kebenko Uskara.

The revival effort is helped by a passionate Bizkaian outsider who moved to the valley, Alberto Angos Peña, who has single-handedly written a grammar of the language, books and gives courses in the dialect. He has a Twitter account where he writes in Erronkari. You would expect him to be a linguist no? Nope! He's a soldier by profession, as he explains in the video below. Never underestimate a passionate, respectful outsider and what they can do for the language.

Also an interesting exercise for those who don't know Basque. The interviewer is from Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, and he speaks in standard Basque. Angos Peña however speaks in his Bizkaian dialect. Can you tell, just by listening, that they are different?

In this interview, you have an interview with Jone Alastuei, the great granddaughter of Fidela Bernat, and the mayor of Fidela Bernat's hometown of Uztarroze, at the age of 29. Uztarroze has 50 permanent residents, but the overall population can reach up to 200 in summer. There she talks about the economic model of Erronkibar, and its risks. Namely how to prevent the tiny towns from becoming a theme park for tourists.

At the end she writes a letter to her great grandmother, in standard Basque. I think she learned it in an ikastola in Iruñea, where she was born. It is not the Erronkari dialect of her great grandmother, but it is Basque. The dialectical chain of transmission was broken, but the language chain can be repaired again.


Fidela Bernat birramonari gutuna

Jakingo bazenu... jakingo bazenu zuretzat hain arrunta zen hura, hain etxekoa… zein garrantzitsu bilakatu den! Erronkariko uskararen erreferente-harribitxia zara!

Zenbat elkarrizketa, zenbat galdera: “Nola esaten zaio honi? Eta besteari?”. Eta zuk ongi esaten zenuen, bai: “Hauek harrapatu nahi naute, nola ez dut ba jakinen nola esaten zaion honi! Haiek esaten dutenaren berdina da-eta!”.

Zu agian ez zinen konturatzen, baina altxorra eraman zenuen zurekin eta horrek altxor bilakatu zaitu zu ere, Fidela Bernat, erronkarieraren azken hiztuna.

“Zergatik ez zenigun transmititu? Zergatik ez genuen jaso?” galdetu diogu maiz gure buruari. Jakin dugu, bai, azken urteetan argi esan zenuela zure ondorengoek euskara jakin behar zutela, euskara(z) bizitu behar zutela. Eta hala izan da! Zure indarrarengatik, uskararekiko erakutsitako maitasunagatik, gogoagatik... Azkenik euskara heldu da zure familiara, Uztarrozeko eta Erronkaribarko kaleetara.

Bihotzean zeneraman Erronkaribarra, bere lurrak, bere ohiturak, bere hotsak, hizkuntza... Harrotasunez, azken momentua arte. Orain Erronkaribarko euskaldunak dira bihotzean, harrotasunez, oroimenean gorde zaituztenak.

Eta horregatik zure indarrak oraindik dirau, hemengo larre eta herrietan.

Izan zinetelako gara!

Mila esker guztioi!


A letter to my great grandmother, Fidela Bernat

If you only knew...if you only knew the importance that it took, that which was so normal, so ordinary for you! You are the jewel, the touchstone, of the Basque of Erronkibar!

How many interviews, how many questions: "And how do you say this? And that?" And as you used to say: "These guys want to catch me out, how won't I know how it's called? It's the same as what they say!"

Maybe you didn't realise, but you were carrying a treasure with you, and this treasure turned you into a treasure too, Fidela Bernat, the last speaker of Erronkari.

"Why didn't you transmit it to us? And why didn't we accept it?", more than once we've asked ourselves this. In your last years you wanted your descendants to know Basque, you knew that they needed to live in Basque. And so it is! Thanks to your strength, thanks to your love of teaching Basque, your enthusiasm...finally Basque has reached our family, to the streets of Uztarroze and the Erronkibar valley.

In your heart you carried the Erronkibar valley, its lands, its customs, its voices, its language...with pride, until your last days. Now, the Basque speakers of the Erronkibar valley have kept you in their hearts, with pride, in their memory.

And thus your strength continues today, in these fields and towns.

Because youse were, we are (i.e. because of youse, we exist today).

Thank you to all of you!

5 x
زندگی را با عشق
نوش جان باید کرد

Return to “Language logs”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Cavesa and 2 guests