Category Archives: Euskara

Basque Fact of the Week: Resurrección María de Azkue

Despite the ancient origins of the language, it is only recently that Euskara, or Basque, has received the academic and literary attention that other languages have enjoyed for a long time. Much of what led to the current growth and strength that the language enjoys today began over a century ago with, for example, the […]

Learning Euskara Remotely

I spent the 1991-92 school year in Donostia, with the goal of learning Euskara. I took a semester of intense Euskara classes, essentially completing two years of coursework in that one semester. My teacher, Nekane, was ever-so patient with all of my questions, my delving into the minutia of why this word went there, questions […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Ideophones

This week, a little bit of whimsy. Ideophones (also known as onomatopoeias) are words whose sound invokes the idea of the meaning of the word. Some examples in English are bang, boom, and splish-splash (and yes, I already took a bath). These are often used in comics as their sound conveys action, like Batman’s pow! […]

“I like fried eggs!” — Some Basque Weirdness in a Spanish Comic

Guillermo Zubiaga sent me this strange and funny bit from Los Grandes Enigmas de Martin Mystere, Investigador de lo Imposible, a Spanish translation of an Italian comic published in 1982. In the comic, the hero encounters an unknown tribe in Belize. I don’t know anything about the plot, but there are a few scenes in […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Ikastolas, the Basque Schools

Basque is an ancient language, predating the Indo-European languages of Europe that surround it. Despite this long history, it is only recently that Basque has become a literary language, with a healthy, if small, corpus of written works. Perhaps even more surprising is that the formal teaching of subjects in the Basque language is not […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Strange Literal Meanings of Some Basque Words

At the time of his death, Professor Larry Trask was working on an etymological dictionary of the Basque language. The dictionary was to give the origin of Basque words, tracing their history to either other languages or to a so-called Proto-Basque, a reconstructed Basque that must have been spoken many years ago. Though I’m not […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Earliest Documentation of the Word “Euskara” is in the Name of a Basque-Muslim

We all know how central language is to the identity of the Basques. Indeed, the Basque word for a Basque person, euskaldun, means one who has, or speaks, Euskara, the Basque language. However, given that Euskara has not been a written language for very long, it isn’t clear exactly where the word Euskara comes from. […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque has Mixed with Several Languages

Pidgins are languages that arise when two other languages come in contact. They are simplified languages to ease communication between two people that have otherwise very different languages, often to facilitate trade. As such, they are always second languages (never the mother-tongue of anyone). Given the extensive and often commercial travel of Basques, it is […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Earliest Written Evidence of Euskara

Euskara, the language spoken by the Basque people, is now spoken by about 750,000 people. The language is perhaps the most singularly important feature identifying the Basque people. Indeed, the word for a Basque person in Euskara — euskaldun — means ‘one who has Euskara.’ Thus, the history of the language itself is of great […]

Euskara, a secret handshake

I was in San Antonio this week for work. The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, better known as TMS to materials scientists, has an annual meeting that floats around the country, and this year it was in San Antonio. This conference brings together researchers from around the world that are advancing our understanding of materials, […]