Learning Euskara Online

Jaialdi is starting! Maybe, as you wander the streets, Kalimotxo in hand, you will hear an old timer (he might be my dad) speaking with his buddies in Euskara. Or you might hear some of those visiting musicians or even the Lehendakari himself, also speaking in Euskara. Or, even, some of those preschoolers who attend the only Ikastola outside of the Basque Country (who just got their own space, zorionak!), talking to each other in Euskara. And maybe, you think, I’d like to learn a bit of that language, become a true Euskaldun, or possessor of Euskara.

Well, to help you in your new-found desire to more deeply explore your Basque origins, here are two online resources.

51Wh2j0XosL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_First, Alan King and Begotxu Olaizola Elordi’s seminal Colloquial Basque, one of the first “courses” developed in English to learn Basque, came with audio tapes. Now, that audio is online for free. From the website:

Colloquial Basque: The Complete Course for Beginners has been carefully developed by an experienced teacher to provide a step-by-step course to Basque as it is written and spoken today.

Combining a clear, practical and accessible style with a methodical and thorough treatment of the language, it equips learners with the essential skills needed to communicate confidently and effectively in Basque in a broad range of situations. No prior knowledge of the language is required. Colloquial Basque is exceptional; each unit presents a wealth of grammatical points that are reinforced with a wide range of exercises for regular practice. A full answer key, a grammar summary, bilingual glossaries and English translations of dialogues can be found at the back as well as useful vocabulary lists throughout.

AMAIA_MINTZANETSecond, I got an email from Ainara Loiarte, the coordinator of Mintzanet, which she describes as

The aim of Mintzanet is to offer the possibility of practising Basque to everyone, without them having to leave the house. Anyone who wants to converse in this language, regardless of where they are in the world, will have the opportunity to do so as often as they wish through the website www.mintzanet.net. The initiative is completely free and is based on two pillars: the bidelaris and bidelagunas. The bidelaguna is a person who is proficient in the language and helps those who are studying. The bidelari, on the other hand, wants to learn and improve.

Thus, the purpose of this initiative is to provide all Basque speakers, both those who live in the Basque Country and those living in other parts of the world, with an opportunity to practise. A minimum level will be required to ensure the possibility of basic communication (A2-B1).

An explanation of the project is attached along with the flyer for the sharing of the information (which are in Basque).

We currently have 250-300 participants and of these 20% are living abroad.

Here you have the experience of a bidelari which we published on our website recently. She is Andrea Bella, from Uruguay.

See what you think, and if you need anything don’t hesitate to ask. You can sign up on our website: www.mintzanet.net (it says IZENA EMAN)

Right now we have more bidelaris (people who want to practise Basque) than bidelagunas (those who speak Basque). Our goal is that this free project continues to grow, and although our priority is to attract bidelagunas we also need bidelaris.

Mintzanet essentially pairs two people, someone proficient in Euskara with someone who is trying to learn, and simply lets them converse in Euskara via the internet. You have to have some level of proficiency in Euskara (a minimal level) to participate, as you will be conversing with someone else in Euskara. This would be a great way to practice.

With these two resources, you now have some great opportunities to learn and practice your Euskara!

Did you know…?

Wolfram_evaporated_crystals_and_1cm3_cubeThe element tungsten was discovered by two Basque brothers, Juan José and Fausto Elhuyar Lubize, in 1783?

Tungsten is an incredibly important element. Having the highest melting point of any element, it is extremely hard and durable, used in light bulbs, x-ray tubes, as piercing armament, and catalysts. Tungsten is also proposed as an important material for ITER, the demonstration fusion reactor being built in France.

sello_189187The Elhuyar brothers were born in Logroño, La Rioja (Juan in 1754 and Fausto in 1755) to French-Basque parents from Hasparren, France, in the Basque province of Lapurdi. Fausto, at least, became a professor at the University of Vergara and later founded the School of Mines in Mexico City.

Today, the Elhuyar Foundation is dedicated to bringing together science and the Basque language.

Tungsten, officially known as wolfram, is a Swedish word that means “heavy stone” while wolfram means something like “wolf’s froth/cream”, as a consequence of the extraction process of a mineral containing tungsten. If the Elhuyar brothers had given it a Basque name, maybe we’d now be calling it harri-astuna or otso-apar.

The Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia has more details (in Spanish) on both Juan and Fausto, including short videos.

Talk at Jaialdi: In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador

Here is news about another talk taking place at Jaialdi, also on July 30th, at 10am. This was sent to me by Aimar Arizmendi, one of the organizers of the talk and the expedition.

In The Footsteps of Basque Whalers In Newfoundland and Labrador is an expedition by boat, slated for 2017 and open to the public that will visit the sites and celebrate the legacy of the first Basques in the new world: The venerable Basque whalers who arrived in Newfoundland following codfish and whale at least as early as the beginning of the 16th century. This expedition will mark the opening of a new cultural route, the first one ever built around the vestiges of historical Basque whaling in eastern Canada.

There will be a special Jaialdi presentation about this expedition featuring local author of historical fiction Christine Echeverria Bender at The Grove Hotel on Thursday, July 30th at 10:00 a.m. More information at www.basquewhalers.info

Inviacion Boise July 30th  (3)

Did you know…?

Bilbao, the capital of Bizkaia, was known for its steel. So well known that a type of sword popular in England and America was called a bilbo, after the Basque city. (In Basque, the name of Bilbao is Bilbo…)  In Basque, they were called Labana Bizkaitarrak. These swords were made in Bilbao and exported widely.

This sword was popular because it was typically well forged and very flexible.

Bilboes also refers to a type of shackles, put around the ankles to immobilize people. While it isn’t so obvious that the name of these shackles also comes from the Basque city, the fact that they were made of steel suggests it is possible. Joseba Zulaika, in his book That Old Bilbao Moon, suggests the same origin for the name. However, these devices were in use before Bilbao started exporting steel to England. In any case, these bilboes have a dark history, used to confine prisoners and slaves.

240px-Bilbo_Baggins_Tolkien_illustrationThe most famous Bilbo, these days, is Bilbo Baggins, of The Hobbit fame. While it isn’t clear where J. R. R. Tolkien got the name for his character, at one point Bilbo finds a sword, called Sting, that plays an immensely important role in the story of Mr. Baggins. It is possible that Tolkien named his character after the sword or, maybe more probable, was inspired by the name he had chosen for his character to outfit him with a sword.

The photo of bilbo, the sword, not Bilbo, the hobbit, linked to above is from this site. The image of Bilbo Baggins was taken from Wikipedia, but drawn by Tolkien.

More information about Gure Esku Dago talk

Jon Camio, one of the speakers at the Together or Nothing at All conference during Jaialdi, sent me some more information about the  event. The Agirre Center, where ex-Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe is now based, has posted more details about the conference. You can find that information here.

jaildi talk

Talk on Gure Esku Dago at Jaialdi

Gure Esku Dago is an effort to provide the Basque Country the right to decide its own future. The goal is to hold a referendum on independence. A signature hallmark of the movement is the long human chains that have extended across Euskadi to promote the goals of Gure Esku Dago. This website provides a video, in English, describing the goals of Gure Esku Dago and their plan of action. Another video can be found here, on YouTube.

On July 30th, from 4:30-6:00pm, at the Grove Hotel in Boise, there will be a talk about Gure Esku Dago and Basque public opinion. There will also be a presentation on former Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe’s new book The Basque Experience. The talk will discuss Gure Esku Dago and the motivation of the movement.

If you’re going to be in Boise for Jaialdi on July 30, a great way to spend the afternoon would be to attend this presentation. Details are below.

jaildi talk

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