Teknologia albisteak

WSJk aldatutako titularra: Hizkuntza zaharra berpizten

Erabiltzailearen aurpegia
2007-11-14 : 11:11

Sustatuzale batek idatzi dugu Wall Street Journal-en aurkitutako datu zehatz batekin: bilaketa eginez gero, artikulua agertzen da, baina beste izenburu batekin: Basques bring old tongue to life. Alegia, "Euskaldunek beren hizkuntza zaharra berpizten dute".

Hemen dago WSJren sareko edizioa, eta Search Resource Center bilaketa esparruan, basque bilatuta aurkituko duzue artikulua, izenburu horrekin. Pantaila-irudia ere atera dugu.

Izenburu hau goxoagoa da, dudarik gabe, WSJ-ko lehen orrian agertu zena baino (Basque Inquisition: How Do You Say Shepherd in Euskera?; Euskal inkisizioa, nola esan artzaina euskaraz?), eta Keith Johnson kazetariaren azalpen gutunaren esplikazioekin bat dator. Hala ere, izenburutik beherakoa den bezalakoa da, eta aitzakia gutxi hor: Sustatuko irakurleek duda barik iraingarritzat hartu dute.

Dagoeneko, WSJ-ren online ediziotik desagertu egin da ingelesezko jatorrizko artikulua doan irakurtzeko aukera, baina guk testua berreskuratu dugu, gordea geratu dadin:

Basque Inquisition: How Do You Say Shepherd in Euskera?

By Keith Johnson (THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 06/11/07):

BILBAO, Spain — Rosa Esquivias is caught on the front line of the Basques’ fight for independence from Spain. Actually, she’s in the front row — of her Basque language class.

Ms. Esquivias, a 50-year-old high-school math teacher and Spanish-speaking native of Bilbao, must learn Basque or risk losing her job. Like her nine classmates, including a man who teaches Spanish to immigrants, she has been given at least a year off with pay to spend 25 hours a week drilling verbs and learning vocabulary in Euskera — a language with no relation to any other European tongue and spoken by fewer than one million people. About 450 million people world-wide speak Spanish.

"For the job I do, I think learning the language is clearly over the top," Ms. Esquivias says.

Basque separatists have been waging a struggle for independence from Spain for 39 years. But lately, many have taken to wielding grammar instead of guns. Separatists still dream of creating their own homeland, but in the meantime they are experimenting with pushing a strict regime of Euskera into every corner of public life. Of the present-day Basque Country’s approximately 2.1 million inhabitants, roughly 30% speak Basque; more than 95% speak Spanish.

The regional government of the Basque Country has begun to tighten the screws on its language policy to the point where now, all public employees, from mail-sorters to firemen, must learn Euskera to get — or keep — their jobs. Cops are pulled off the street to brush up their grammar. And companies doing business with the Basque government must conduct business in Euskera. Starting next year, students entering public school will be taught only in Basque.

Although there is a shortage of doctors in the Basque Country, the Basque health service requires medical personnel to speak Euskera. Health-service regulations detail how Euskera should be used in every medical situation, from patient consultations down to how to leave a phone message or make an announcement over a public-address system (Basque first, then Spanish). There are rules specifying the typeface and placement of Basque signs in hospitals (Basque labels on top or to the left, and always in bold).

The official goal of the Basque policy is to transform Euskera from a "co-official" status with Spanish to "co-equal" status. That, say Euskera proponents, is necessary to make up for years of linguistic repression. The language was banned during the 36-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and only began to re-emerge in the 1980s.

"To have a truly bilingual society, you need positive discrimination," says Mertxe Múgica, the head of the Basque language academies where Ms. Esquivias studies. Many Basque speakers still feel discriminated against because of the pervasiveness of Spanish.

But as Basque nationalists try to push their language into the mainstream, they are bumping up against an uncomfortable reality.

"Euskera just isn’t used in real life," says Leopoldo Barrera, the head of the center-right Popular Party in the Basque regional Parliament. Though it has existed for thousands of years — there are written records in Basque that predate Spanish — it is an ancient language little suited to contemporary life. Euskera has no known relatives, though theories abound linking it to everything from Berber languages to Eskimo tongues.

Airport, science, Renaissance, democracy, government, and independence, for example, are all newly minted words with no roots in traditional Euskera: aireportu, zientzia, errenazimentu, demokrazia, gobernu, independentzia.

Meanwhile, there are 10 different words for shepherd, depending on the kind of animal. Astazain, for instance, is a donkey herder; urdain herds pigs. A cowpoke is behizain in Euskera. While Indo-European languages have similar roots for basic words like numbers — three, drei, tres, trois — counting in Euskera bears no relation: bat, bi, hiru, lau, and up to hamar, or 10. Religious Basques pray to Jainko.

The regional government has spent years of effort and billions of euros to make sure that every official document, from job applications for sanitation workers to European Union agricultural grants, is available in Euskera. But this year, in San Sebastian, a hotbed of Basque nationalism and the region’s second-largest city, not a single person chose to take the driver’s license exam in Euskera, says Mr. Barrera.

The Basque-language TV channel is loaded with Euskera favorites, such as the irrepressible redhead "Pippi Galtzaluze." But the channel has a 4.4% audience share in the Basque Country, according to data from Taylor Nelson Sofres — less than the animal-documentary channel of public broadcasting.

Even some of the biggest proponents of Basque independence stumble over Euskera’s convoluted grammar. Juan José Ibarretxe, the Basque regional president, speaks a less-than-fluent Euskera at news conferences. Like most people in the region, he grew up speaking Spanish and had to learn Euskera as an adult.

Other adults who are now running afoul of the new language policy are having similar trouble picking up the tongue. "I guess we’re the last of the old guard, but we don’t have any choice," says Ignacio Garcia, a math teacher who is a classmate of Ms. Esquivias, and is sweating over a stack of notes before his first big Euskera exam.

The language policy has led to a massive adult re-education push, as tens of thousands in the Basque Country head back to school. Their predicament has become a popular sendup on a Basque comedy show. In one sketch, non-Basque-speaking adults who have been sent to a euskaltegi, or Euskera language school, have to ask schoolchildren to help them with their homework.

Joseba Arregui, a former Basque culture secretary, native Basque speaker, and onetime architect of the language policy, feels that Euskera is being pushed too far. "It’s just no good for everyday conversation," he says. "When a language is imposed, it is used less, and that creates a diabolical circle of imposition and backlash."

In the classroom, Euskera use has also allowed separatists to control the curriculum. Basque-language textbooks used in schools never tell students that the Basque Country is part of Spain, for example. No elementary-school texts even mention the word Spain.

Students are taught that they live in "Euskal Herria," stretching across parts of Spain and southern France, that was colonized by "the Spanish State."

Some local politicians worry that the insistence on Basque language makes any type of reconciliation between separatists and Spain impossible. "Everything young Basques later encounter in life — like the fact they live in Spain — then appears to be an imposition from Madrid," says Santiago Abascal, a regional deputy from the Popular Party who campaigns against the linguistic policy. "That creates frustration that keeps violence bubbling in the Basque Country," he says.

But back in the classroom, most of the frustration seems to be with the dense grammar, forthcoming exams, and the difficulty of finding quality shows on Basque TV.

Arantza Goikolea, Ms. Esquivias’s teacher, leads a class through an exercise about their daily routines. Tamara Alende, 25, watches a lot of TV at night, she says in pidgin Euskera.

"Basque shows?" asks Ms. Goikolea. Ms. Alende lowers her head and turns red. "No, Spanish series," she mumbles, to a chorus of boos from the teacher and the rest of the class.


2007-11-14 : 12:33

Pantaila-irudi horretan ikusiko duzuenez, bi zuzenketa ohar ere agertzen dira emaitzetan. Batak, artikuluari lagundu zion mapari buruzko zehaztapen bat dakar. Besteak zera dio:

A PAGE-ONE ARTICLE Tuesday about the Basque language, Euskera, in some editions contained several translation errors. The word for donkey herder is astazain, not ahuntzain; the word for pig herder is urdain, not artzain; and a cowboy is a behizain, not an urdain.

Alegia, abeltzaintzaren hiztegia guztiarekin nahastu zirela.

2007-11-14 : 12:40

Txalo Sustaturi artikulua argaitaratzeagatik. Izan ere, WSJkoek prezioa jarri diote orain, joan zen astean doanekoa zen artikuluari. Agian euskatzaleen haserretik dirua atera nahi izan dute.

2007-11-14 : 14:36

Badirudi euskaldunon erreakzioak nolabait erreakzionatuarazi egin duela WSJ eta kazetaria bera . Ez da denok nahiko genuken gezurtapena eta barkamen eskaera, baino bueno, behintzat frogatu dugu horrelako erasoen aurka gizarte bezala erantzuteko gai garela.

2007-11-14 : 19:46

Atzoko Euskadi Irratiko Mezularia saioan Joseba Zulaikak WSJren paperezko edizioan beste izenburu bat argitaratu zela esan zuen. Ez naiz ondo oroitzen baina "inposaketa espainola" bezalako zerbait zen. Agian, bakarren batek argitu ahal izango du.

2007-11-17 : 21:22

Dear Mr. Johnson, My name is Mikel Morris and am the author of the leading English-Basque dictionary (which you can see at www.euskadi.net/morris. Thus, I feel that I am qualified to speak on this subject. It is a shame that you did not contact expert people who are actually familiar with languages in general and with Basque in particular. To begin with, Leopoldo Barrera is hardly an authority to have an informed opinion of Basque since he knows hardly any Basque (and I am skeptical as to whether he could get by in any other language other than Spanish). It is scientifically false to say that a language is more ancient than another and wholly inaccurate to say that a language such as Basque is little suited to modern life. Every bona fide linguist knows that any language can express any idea, especially when language planning has taken place.

I fail to understand what you mean by "newly minted" words such as aireportu, zientzia, demokrazia. Every language creates neologisms when new concepts come up. You should study the case of Icelandic or even French. Basque is no exception.

Your observation on shepherd is an example of gross ignorance of not only Basque but of English as well. The origin of the word shepherd is sceaphierde, (From Old English) from sceap "sheep" + hierde "herder," from heord "a herd" ( Cf. M.L.G., M.Du. schaphirde, M.H.G. schafhirte, Ger. dial. schafhirt.) The Webster dictionary defines "shepherd" as "1 : a person who tends sheep" Thus, you probably meant "herder" or "drover" rather than "shepherd", but then again that term is too general in English and is usually combined with the animal being driven.

You mention that Basque numbers have no relationship to Indo-European and that would seem to be a disadvantage. Are European children in Finland, Hungary, Estonia and Turkey at an equal disadvantage? I think not. Finns pray to "Jumala", is that bad or equally as bad as "Jainkoa"? Why?

I am especially amazed at Joseba Arregi (who writes his surname as Arregi not Arregui as you write it though you could have written it as Arregy to make it more palatable to an English-speaking readership;-)). If you quoted him correctly, he has turned full circle in what he had been working for when he basked in power in the PNV. He helped me with my own dictionary project.

As for statistics, I fail to see where you got the figure 450,000,000 speakers for Spanish. Are you including Anglos who speak "Taco Bell" English in the States? German tourists who can order a beer in pidgin Spanish in the Costa Brava? George Bush? Indians in Guatemala who can barely utter a sentence in intelligible Spanish? An authoritative estimate from the Ethnologue Survey (SIL) gave a figure of 332,000,000 in 1999. Has Spanish acquired an extra 120,000,000 since 1999? If so, that is truly amazing but hardly plausible.

Finally, we get to the crux of the problem: is Basque an official language? If so, it should be equal in every way to Spanish. If not, that should be so stated and either be accepted as a fact or changed. Swedish is still official in Finland even though a small minority actually uses it as their mother tongue. I can hardly feel sorry for Spanish-speaking teachers who refused to learn Basque before. I myself, a native speaker of English, was able to give classes in Basque and Spanish at a High School.

It is a shame that you won't answer me but at least you are confronted with some facts and questions. Although I understand your rabidly pro-Spanish leanings, you should, in the name of good journalism, get your facts straight and talk to competent people who know something about languages.

Sincerely Yours

Mikel Morris

2007-11-20 : 22:26


Dear Editor,

I would like this article to be published in your journal airing a different view about the issues raised by one of your journalists, Mr K. Johnson, in his article about the Basque Language, Euskara, on November 6th 2007. For the international opinion to be construed fairly, I think is of upper importance.

The title is pejorative, insulting and inflaming for any Euskalduna (basque speaker) in the world. The article is full of many of the old nasty and erosive attacks against Euskara. In this sense, it is clear that still many continue to class languages in categories according to the number of speakers of that language. As if the physical numbers, strength, power –still underneath, concealed, just the same old cave man lingering- gives them any qualitative superiority. Never mind those less numerical languages and the historical and cultural richness they mean to humanity. This would not be such a surprising statement for anyone coming from a Spanish or English cultural and language heritage! How naive I am hoping that they will ever understand the anthropological truths behind any language ! They could never be universal, cultural, educated or humane enough to understand that the respect and rights they claim for their citizens is what they have in the past, and still nowadays -this article is an example- deny to men and women who speak other languages.

The fact about which they are so proud, the hundreds of millions of speakers of their respective latin-visigothic and anglo-saxon languages, is not due to the beauty or cleverness, or the grammatical supremacy or perfection of those languages. Sadly, it is not more than the reflection of the violence, repression and organised social and economic marginalisation inflicted on the people who historically -and nowadays- they come in contact with in their insatiable germanic tribal and genetic characteristic of always expanding, annexing, invading and conquering in the look for ever more wealth. I invite the reader to analyse the history of the rising of the number of speakers of the Spanish and English language through history.

Euskalduna is the contemporary human resisting to be like the extinct Incas, Mayas, Aztecs, Guaicaipuros, Sioux, Appalachians, Zulus, Aborigines,etc...

If any citizen of the Basque Country really respected and loved those natives of the land of the basques, and if through history justice and fairness was applied in all dealings with those natives of the land of the basques, we would not need to ask anybody born or living in their land to go for lessons to learn their language, Euskara. They would already speak it or they would make a willing effort to learn Euskara of their own accord without any need for positive discrimination.

Euskara is not more difficult or easier than any other language. All languages are easy when learnt at young age. Even Mandarin and Cantonese. Ask the thousand millions who speak it. Then try you to learn it and tell me how easy or difficult it is. Just because one’s mother tongue is grammatically distant from another language does not make that second language inferior, it makes it just different. All languages borrow words, terms and expressions from other live and dead languages or invent them. This is accepted as part of the dynamics of a living language and their adaptation to a changing world. Why criticise pejoratively Euskara for doing absolutely the same?

There is so much malice and bad intention in the article that K. Johnson wrote, that for the first time I am writing a letter to the editor in my third language in defence of the millenary one my parents taught me and still survives perdurably despite of multiple, and not new, attacks against its existence. And if the intention was not at fault, what I doubt, the bias and one sidedness of this article tells me that Mr K. Johnson needs further information about the real life experience of many Euskalduna-s on their own land and that you, as the |Editor, need not accept in the future partisan articles such as this before further consideration is given to the political repercussions and the damage caused to the international opinion about the unresolved basque issue. I hope you give the required urgency and consideration to this letter.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.


patxi lurra
2007-11-20 : 23:35

"The word for donkey herder is astazain, not ahuntzain."

Tipo honek ez deuko errespetua ezerrerako be. Ahuntzainak astazainekin nahastea be! Gora ahuntzak!

2008-01-14 : 16:29

Euskosare webguneak Keith Johnsonen jatorrizko artikulua itzuli du euskarara.

Era berean, Eusko Ikaskuntzari lotutako webgune honen ekimenez, 17.000 sinadurarekin babestutako eskaera bat entregatu zuten duela egun batzuk New York-eko egunkariaren egoitzan. Hona kronika.




Jarraitu sustatu.eus

E-postaz, mezuz mezu:

E-postaz, eguneko buletina:

  • rss ikonoa

»» Aukera gehiago