Category Archives: Euskara

Basque Fact of the Week: Good Birds to You!

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Hanukkah Sameach! However you celebrate, the holidays are upon us. In Basque, it is traditional to say Gabon Zoriontsua! or Eguberri On! Sometimes you’ll hear the ubiquitous Zorionak! But where does this word, used in so many situations, come from…? Primary source: Euskal Hiztegi Historiko-Etimologikoa, Euskaltzaindia

Making Basque Identity Cool: An Interview with John Ysursa

John Ysursa is near-omnipresent in the Basque community of the United States. He’s seemingly at every festival, he’s a central part of Boise State University’s Basque program, and he has authored a book on Basque dance. His enthusiasm for all things Basque – particularly how to get others excited about the Basque culture – is […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Hand of Irulegi, the Oldest Text in Euskara

On Monday, my feeds blew up. A new discovery – a bronze relic dating back some 2100 years – shook the Basque world. This relic – of a hand, likely an amulet of good fortune – had words written on it in (an ancestor to) Basque in a unique runic script. This discovery – the […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Napoleon’s Nephew was a Linguist who Studied Basque

How does an aristocrat – a man born into privilege and titles, the nephew of one of the most powerful leaders of Europe – become one of the most important researchers of the Basque language? Louis Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew, extensively studied the regional variations of Euskara, establishing a critical map of the dialects. While […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Euskalkiak, the Dialects of Basque

One of the challenges I had when I tried to learn Euskara in Donostia was that I was learning Batua but when I went to visit my dad’s family, they spoken the Bizkaian dialect and I had a hard time understanding them. When I told my dad about it, he nodded, saying he couldn’t understand […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Numbers and Counting in Basque

Counting is one of the most elementary human tasks, one of the first things we learn as children, rattling off numbers as we hold up our fingers to record our count. In most of the western world, we count by tens, a natural extension of our ten fingers (and thumbs). Basque is different, with a […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Possible Basque Origins for the Names of Several Native American Tribes

It is now well established that the Basques, if not the very first Europeans to set foot on the North American continent, were among the first. Of course, there were already a large number of thriving peoples living there when they arrived, and the Basques certainly interacted closely with them, even developing trading pidgins. None […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Days of the Week in Basque

When we think about what we call the days of the week, how many of us think about the fact that Monday is named after the moon, Wednesday is Odin’s day, and Thursday is dedicated to the Scandinavian god Thor? Where do these names even come from? They’re just names, and we’ve lost, for the […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The First Translation of the New Testament into Basque

As compared to its neighbors, the Basque language was standardized only recently, in the 1970s. The challenges in standardizing the language so that all Basque speakers could communicate with one another was expressed by Joanes Leizarraga, one of the first to attempt the task. One of the first to refer to the Basque Country in […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Gaurko Hitza, Basque Word of the Day

In between my sophomore and junior year at the University of Idaho, I spent a year in Donostia with the goal of learning Euskara. When I told my dad that I wanted to learn Basque, he asked “Why? Why not Spanish? You can speak that everywhere.” I guess he was too pragmatic. Anyways, I did […]