Saturday, December 01, 2007

nazkagarri batek idatzia


Aeropuerto, la ciencia, la renacentista, la democracia, el gobierno, y la independencia, por ejemplo, son todos los recién acuñadas palabras sin raíces tradicionales en Euskera: aireportu, zientzia, errenazimentu, demokrazia, gobernu, independentzia.

"Euskera simplemente no se usa en la vida real", dice Leopoldo Barre

Mientras tanto, existen 10 diferentes palabras para pastor, en función del tipo de animal. Astazain, por ejemplo, es un burro dedicadas al pastoreo; urdain rebaños porcinos. A cowpoke es behizain en Euskera. Aunque lenguas indoeuropeas tienen raíces similares de palabras básicas como los números de tres, drei, tres, trois de cómputo, en euskera no tiene ninguna relación: murciélago, quincenal, hiru, lau, y hasta hamar, o 10. Religiosos vascos orar a Jainko.

Joseba Arregui, ex secretario de la cultura vasca, vasco orador nativo, y onetime arquitecto de la política lingüística, considera que el euskera es empujada demasiado lejos. "Es sólo bueno para ninguna conversación diaria", dice.


Dear Mr. Johnson,

I have read your article with sadness and even anger, because I think writing such an insulting article about Basque language, is an insult to all Basque speakers. I will quote five of your sentences in the article (the list could be as long as twenty sentences, but you might be quite short of time) and I will try to explain my point of view as good as I can:

1- "it is an ancient language little suited to contemporary life" Well Mr. Johnson, I speak to my relatives, friends, classmates... in Basque. I even study Physics in Basque. Nowadays, scientific articles, newspapers, essays, books... are written in Basque language, and it has nothing to envy to Spanish, French or English versions in terms of accuracy, preciseness and comprehensibility.

2-"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." Asuming that all the words you have put have never existed before in Basque (which is a wrong assumtion) In all languages new words are created as the society grows and develops and so does the register or vocabulary. So does in English, as Shakespeare never wrote in Hamlet words as nanotechnology, internet or football.

3-"Euskera use has also allowed separatists to control the curriculum" The Basque languages is an heritage for -and of- ALL the Basque people, it has nothing to do with politics.

4-" Many Basque speakers still feel discriminated against because of the pervasiveness of Spanish." Well, I still feel discriminated, because every time I have to go to the doctor or having any other conversation with a civil servant (who is a civil servant for ALL of the Basque people, Basque speakers and non-Basque speakers) I have to switch to Spanish, a language that maybe I do not speak as well as Basque, that is why we feel discriminated, because we can not speak in Basque in much of everyday situations. Thus, that discrimination exists.

5- "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." All language grammar is dense to deal with. Basque is as difficult to learn for adults as Spanish, English or Swahili, there are no difficult or easy languages, they are just different.

I apologize for mistakes or harsh language I have might used unconsciously due to my lack of English language mastering.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Yours sincerely,

Mikel iturbe

Dear Mr. Johnson

I am writing this e-mail as a response to the impression that your article about the Basque language (WSJ, Basque Inquisition: How Do You Say Shepherd in Euskera? November 6, 2007) has made on me. As, from my point of view, your article is full of mistakes, falsehoods and bias, I will try to shed some more light on this topic.

You open your article with a polemic issue: the need to learn Basque language on the part of teachers. As you know, Basque is a co-official language (together with Spanish) in the three provinces of the Basque Autonomous Community. Co-official means that I, as a citizen of the BAC, have the right to be taught in Basque if I want (or my parents want). As the demand for education in Basque has dramatically increased in the last decades, so has the need for Basque-speaking teachers. It is the duty of the government to guarantee this basic right (anchored in the Spanish Constitution and in the Basque Statute).

As for the teachers forced to learn Basque to teach in that language, I can assure you it is not a tragedy for most of the them. They can have two, three or more years off, at their full wages, just to be a student again. After that they know one more language, which is always enriching, and they are probably opener to learn a third one.
You have also mentioned other public services like health service, police or postal system. Though I have the right to be attended in Basque by these public workers it will be difficult to find somebody to answer me in that language, specially in towns like Bilbao or Vitoria (which by the way is the second largest town in the Basque Country). Changes in these fields are clearly slow, and saying that we have no specialists because we demand Basque is false and a total insult to our intelligence.

Deep down, when people complain about the need for Basque-speaking public workers, they are calling into question the co-officiality of the Basque language. They are probably not against Basque, but they would be happier if it only were spoken among shepherds or inside one’s home.

Here we have Leopoldo Barreda’s words: “Euskera just isn't used in real life”. Rather than “in real life” it should be understood as “in my life”. I invite you, Mr. Johnson, to visit “my real life” and see if Basque is used or not. I don’t understand why you have espoused Mr. Barreda’s opinion and not that of a Basque-speaking person. Mr. Barreda does not know Basque and consequently he does not use or feel Basque in his life. When a Basque-speaking person is with a not-speaking one, we have no problem in using Spanish. Unfortunately, this leads to an invisibility of the Basque language for many monolingual Spanish speakers.

The funniest part of your article is the one about etymology. You remark that Basque language is full of neologisms. You mention “democracy”. Do you think democracy is a truly original English word? I thought it was ancient Greek. So in Spanish (democracia), French (démocratie) or Basque (demokrazia) we just use the same Greek root for the same word. You also mention “airport”. I guess in English or Spanish they did not have many airports in the 19th century. So I suppose they had to make it up and look for some common roots. We say “aireportua”. Is it that so strange? I could go on and on with the rest or the terms you have mentioned but I hope you have got the point.

I completed my whole education in Basque language (including further education) but maybe you are sharper than me, so if you have found a textbook in which the fact that “Euskal Herria was colonized by the Spanish State” is mentioned, I ask you please to show it to me. This is a common fallacy used by Spanish nationalist, but it is just not true.

Probably the most insulting part of your article is when you compare violence and language. By suggesting that wielding guns is the same as wielding (Basque) grammar you are insulting me and many others who are against violence and actually think that violence is a considerable deterrent for the acceptance of Basque in other fields.

I would like to end this letter inviting you to have a look at the doctoral theses that are written in the Basque language every year, to listen to some electronic music sung in Basque or have a surf through the flourishing Basque blog community. Hopefully, you will not dare again to say that Basque is not a language for modern times.

Yours sincerely

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