Basque Fact of the Week: Basque was only Standardized in the 1970s

The Basque language — Euskara — became standardized in the 1970s. The Basque Language Academy (the Euskaltzaindia) felt that a standard was needed to give the language a better chance of survival against the pressures of languages like French and Spanish. This unified Basque, Euskara Batua, was based on a dialect of Basque from Gipuzkoa.

The density of Basque speakers, from Wikipedia.
  • There are at least 5 dialects of Basque, subdivided into 11 subdialects and 24 minor variants. I’ve heard it said that every valley — indeed every baserri — has its own dialect. My dad, a Bizkaian, would say he couldn’t understand the Basque of the French side.
  • In comparison, the Royal Spanish Academy, founded in 1713 to ensure the stability of Spanish, published its first grammar in 1771, though the first Spanish grammar was published back in 1492.
  • Euskara Batua is now an official language in Spain, but not in France.

Basque Fact of the Week: Bermeo, not Bilbao, was Originally the Capital of Bizkaia

Bermeo, a town of about 17,000 on the Bizkaia coast, was founded between 1234 and 1239 by Lope Diaz de Haro. Bermeo was the capital of Bizkaia between 1476 and 1602, at which time Bilbao was made the capital of the province.

Historical coats of arms of Bizkaia, from the Auñamendi Encyclopedia.
  • Bermeo’s history begins in 1051, with the monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (meaning “the craggy fort” in Basque), which has gained recent fame as one of the filming sites of the series Game of Thrones.
  • Bilbao, founded in 1300, gained strength through a series of charters that, amongst other things, forced an important trade route to go through Bilbao.
  • From about 1040 to 1876, Bizkaia was ruled by the Lord of Bizkaia. One legend says that the first mythical Lord of Bizkaia, Çuria (in other tellings, Jaun Zuria — the White Lord), was the son of the god Sugaar and a foreign (typically Scottish) princess and was born in the village of Mundaka (now famous for surfing).

Basque Fact of the Week: The Basque Fox, the Last French Corsair

Étienne Pellot Aspikoeta (1765-1856), known as the Basque Fox (le Renard Basque in French), was the last known French corsair. He was imprisoned at least twice by the British, though much of his later activity was centered off the coast of Galicia. He was born and died in Hendaia.

Image from the Auñamendi Encyclopedia.

Basque Fact of the Week: The Song of Roland is Really about the Basques

The Song of Roland, one of the oldest major works in French, describes how Charlemagne’s nephew, Roland, takes the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army back through the pass of Roncevaux, where they are ambushed and slaughtered by the Muslims. In reality, it was the Basques that attacked Roland.

Image from Wikipedia.
  • While The Song of Roland was written between 1040 and 1115, the Battle of Roncevaux, or Orreaga in Basque, Pass occurred in 778.
  • The Basques attacked in retaliation for the prior destruction of the walls of Pamplona. Some accounts say that the whole city was destroyed.
  • The Basque force was essentially a guerrilla army. “A typical Basque mountain warrior was armed with two short spears and a knife or short sword as his main weapons, and bows or javelins for missile weapons. He would not normally wear armour.” (from Wikipedia)

Job Opportunity with Hitza Hitz

Benoit Etcheverry, creator of the 8 Probintziak radio program and now Export Manager at Hitza Hitz, sent me an email announcing they are looking for a Commercial Agent or Distributor in the USA. In particular:

HITZA HITZ is looking for a commercial agent or distributor in the USA

HITZA HITZ is the « given word » of the Basques, a motto, a code of honour. And it is the name of a brand of ready-to-wear apparel inspired by the Basque country. It’s also the first Jeans Brand from the Basque Country.

It is appropriate for women and men, for Basques and their friends, the locals, the visitors, from those who love the mountains to those who prefer the ocean.

What do we offer?
An attractive commission on the sales


  • Represent and be the face of the Storefront to all our clients and brands
  • Manage key, significant projects
  • Qualify clients’ specific needs and suggest the best spaces for these needs
  • Monitor the ongoing communication and deals in your portfolio
  • Lead deals toward success; be a deal closer and never let a customer be unsatisfied
  • Help develop our customer acquisition strategy
  • Active outbound prospecting through cold calling, created campaigns, and events
  • Target specific and strategic brands
  • Provide education to your prospective clients to lead them on the platform


  • Have experience in Sales or Account management
  • Interest in the Retail and Fashion industry
  • Possess excellent communication skills
  • Result-oriented and a valuable team player
  • Tech-oriented person
  • Quick thinker; you thrive in a fast-paced and challenging environment
  • Organizational skills are a strength
  • Relevant graduate degree
  • Must be in USA Full-time
  • Experience in managing high-frequency pipeline is a plus
  • Knowing the Basque culture is a plus


  • Have the opportunity to directly shape the company’s strategic direction
  • Work in a fun, collaborative, and stimulating environment (We’re looking for your personality as well!)
  • An insanely supportive, hardworking team, building something truly transformative

What to Expect Next

  • Interview with our Chief Business Development Officer and Export Responsable.
  • You’ll also meet a few of our other teammates and business leaders!

Interested? Send your resume to :

Basque Fact of the Week: On January 20, Donostia Celebrates my Birthday… I mean, La Tamborrada

La Tamborrada is a 24-hour festival taking place every January 20, the feast day of the city’s patron Saint Sebastian, in Donostia. Over 100 different bands dressed as soldiers and cooks march through the city throughout the 24 hours of the day, starting at midnight.

The gathering in the Plaza de la Constitución, image from here.

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