The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Keith Johnson which questioned the usefulness of Euskara, the Basque language, in a modern context. He makes a number of points, most of which are pretty ridiculous. For example, he criticizes Euskara for having non-native words for concepts like democracy, which, of course, isn’t a native English word either as it derives from Greek roots. Because of the number of incorrect assertions Johnson makes, this article has generated quite the response from online Basques. Unfortunately, the WSJ article is only viewable to those who have a subscription to the journal (if you have one, you can see the article here). However, you can get the gist of the article by reading the responses to it. Here are a couple:
- Itsasertzeko zubia (which also posts a reply by Johnson in response to the criticism his article has generated)
- Luistxo’s blog
- Mikel Iturbe‘s response to the article
- EuskoBlog‘s take on the Basque-phobe-of-the-week
- EiTB‘s initial response to the article and
- Mikel Morris‘s answer to Johnson (Morris is the author of the leading English-Basque dictionary)
All of these responses do a much better job than I could in debunking Johnson’s article and I agree with what they say. To criticize the Basque Country for wanting Basque to be a viable language within its borders seems utterly ridiculous to me. And we wouldn’t criticize other, larger countries for doing the same. Don’t we essentially demand that doctors know English in the US, even if they are administering to predominantly Spanish-speaking areas? I know there are schools taught primarily in Spanish, but the teachers know English all the same. It seems to me quite a double standard.
What do you think?