February 12, 2011

Quote of the month: Txillardegi


Maybe Basque language will not be saved with a state, but without a state for sure it will be lost. 


J.L. Álvarez Enparantza, Txillardegi at Berria, today.

7 comments:

  1. LOL that's what Catalan linguists and politicians have been repeating again and again for 30 years, I think that's just common sense.

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  2. Basque is actually more in danger than Catalan, not only for its lesser number of speakers but also because it isn't actually a singlebut a family of closely related languages, commonly called "dialects" by linguists.

    To "correct" this situation, Basque linguists (grouped into the Basque Academy of Euskaltzaindia) created a standard variery called "Euskera Batua" (i.e. unified Basque).

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  3. "To 'correct' this situation, Basque linguists (grouped into the Basque Academy of Euskaltzaindia) created a standard variery called 'Euskera Batua' (i.e. unified Basque)".

    That has also happened with the Maori language in New Zealand to a large extent. Although efforts are made to preserve local pronunciation the vocabulary has been standardised so that inter-regional communication in the language is easier.

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  4. Basque dialectal diversity is condemned in the long run for sure but there is still a good number of speakers, either of batua or one of the many Basque dialects (the only truly endangered Basque dialect is Souletine Basque, I'll tell more about that later). In "Iparralde" (the French Basque Country), most youngsters in rural areas still speak Basque (first-hand testimonies) even though the coast is undoubtedly lost and will never recover the use of the language. IMO the equation is simple : where the old socio-economic structures (that means : pastoralism, marital relationships, ...) were maintained is where the Basque language still is spoken. As a progressive myself (well sorta), I may not always like the way Basque identity is expressed in Iparralde but that's its success : a strong conservatism is the key for cultural resistance (just have a look at elections : the French Basque Country still is a Gaullist stronghold and the Catholic Church is very strong as well). To sum up : the French Basques have their own existence far from modern French standards. The situation in post-industrialized Hegoalde clearly is different and my knowledge on the issue is not big enough : I suppose that only a strong political will could save the Basque language - well Batua - from extinction. That may mean a State even though Ireland is the proof that a State cannot compete against the cultural strength of the neighbour. A sane patriotism is the only hope for the Basques, one that allows them to refuse the economic rationality induced by full castillianization (and soon "americanization").

    I'm much more pessimistic about Catalan. Firstly, I'd like to state that the language spoken by Catalan people doesn't really deserve to be named "Catalan". It looks like Catalan people are pretty lenient on that issue but I've yet to recognize in the heavily castillianized dialect of TV3 genuine Catalan as spoken by the shepherds of Cerdanya I could hear when in Font Romeu in my childhood.

    Catalan in France is a defunct language unfortunately enough. The reasons behind that disappearance are clear : French Catalans have physically disappeared replaced by Pieds-Noirs and other migrants. We know that origins should not matter when it comes to say who is Catalan and who is not (that's really a Romance notion of nation) but a nation cannot survive being colonized that quickly. In a word, French Catalans proved unable to "catalanize" the millions of newcomers, Catalan identity got to be the one belonging to an ethnic minority that soon vanished and eventually Catalan got extinct in France. I'd like to avoid such "ethnic" analyzes but after much thought on the issue, I believe we cannot escape them as it's the way it truly happened.

    1891-1915

    1966-1990

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  5. "the coast is undoubtedly lost and will never recover the use of the language"...

    It all depends of political situation: with self-rule or at least ample autonomy, the Northern Basque Country could well promote Basque language again, as long as the people wants it (and I believe it is the case).

    Nothing is lost forever if there is a popular and political will to recover it. It could even happen in Gascony and La Rioja if the people there would want it. However in these cases, I doubt it very much that they recover their long lost Basque identity.

    "That may mean a State even though Ireland is the proof that a State cannot compete against the cultural strength of the neighbour".

    In the interview, Txillardegi's quote is clearly contextual to the historical situation of Ireland, where sovereignty was achieved but the national language was lost. However he also mentions Algeria, where official Arab-French bilingualism means in fact Arab monolingualism.

    Whatever the case, the quote emphasizes something we all perceive clearly: only with full officialdom and state promotion can Basque language compensate for being a small and economically almost useless language.

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  6. "I'm much more pessimistic about Catalan. Firstly, I'd like to state that the language spoken by Catalan people doesn't really deserve to be named "Catalan"."

    Some people here call it "catanyol" or "xava". It's spoken by most people.

    "It looks like Catalan people are pretty lenient on that issue but I've yet to recognize in the heavily castillianized dialect of TV3 genuine Catalan as spoken by the shepherds of Cerdanya I could hear when in Font Romeu in my childhood. "

    Many people think elders and villagers speak a better Catalan, but that's not true in most cases. Most Catalan being spoken by elders just sucks, and what's even worse: people don't know how to speak it, and they're getting tired.

    "French Catalans have physically disappeared replaced by Pieds-Noirs and other migrants. We know that origins should not matter when it comes to say who is Catalan and who is not (that's really a Romance notion of nation) but a nation cannot survive being colonized that quickly. In a word, French Catalans proved unable to "catalanize" the millions of newcomers, Catalan identity got to be the one belonging to an ethnic minority that soon vanished and eventually Catalan got extinct in France. I'd like to avoid such "ethnic" analyzes but after much thought on the issue, I believe we cannot escape them as it's the way it truly happened."

    The same can be applied to Spanish Catalans. Nowadays they represent less than 1/3 of Catalonia's population, and their birth rates are rather low, among the lowest of the world. On the contrary, most immigrants have a much higher birth rates, and most of them do not speak Catalan (in some cases they even know Catalan exists). Most Catalanist politicians insist on being "tolerant" with immigrants, and optimistic, because they'll adopt the Catalan language and culture and will feel Catalan soon, hahaha.

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  7. Yes, Franco's dictatorship (with the involvement of Catalan elites) devised the Hispanicization of Catalonia by bringing immigrants from other regions of Spain, mostly from Andalusia, and they succeed to a large extent.

    This wasn't very different from what they did to the Basque Country, or Russia to Ukraine and the Baltic countries.

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