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Monday, September 20, 2010

Foreign Tongues: The Basque Country

HFR publishes contributors from all over the world, in languages and from places that some people (we're not pointing fingers) have never heard of. This recurring post Foreign Tongues will give you a little culture and a little history, a way to better understand the background behind some not-so-familiar peoples and languages. Here's our first one!

In Issue #45 Bernardo Atxaga’s poetry was profiled in the international section. Born in Basque Country in 1951 he writes his poetry in Euskara, the language of his people. He says, “If it comes to it, I could make use of my other languages, Spanish and French. A minority language doesn’t imprison a writer for the simple reason that it always come along with another language for company.”

The Basques are a people of mysterious origin and are probably the oldest indigenous people living group in Europe. There are approximately 18 million Basque people or people of Basque decent in the world, with about 2.5 million living in part of Spain and France in what is called Basque Country. They have their own newspaper, radio, and educational system. The Basque country is not completely autonomous; they are still under Spanish and French rule, although they do have a separatist group that is fighting for complete autonomy.
Euskara is a mysterious language with no root in any language known in the world. Scientists and linguists have theories for where the language came from, but no definitive evidence. The language itself has been kept alive due in no small part to the Basque people and their resistance against both Spanish and French governments. It is said to be one of the older languages because some of their words have roots in the word rock, which linguists say could mean the language has been around since the Stone Ages, when stone tools were used.

A list of some Basque authors include Miguel de Unamuno, Jose Manterola, Lucia Etxebarria, and Gabriel Aresti.

1 comment:

Colin said...

You know what is great about the Basque people, their amazing music