History of the Basque
language and culture
Basque Country
nowadays: geographical
and political regions
 The Basque Autonomous
 The Autonomous
Community of Navarre
• The three provinces within
the French state.
Origins to the Middle Ages
Many archaeological sites to prove
Palaeolithic existence. Romans and Greeks
recorded existence of people and language
from the C7th.
The Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Franks
and Normans all tried to conquer the
Basque country and absorb their culture: all
failed largely to integrate these people.
Were a people of confederate organization.
The Duchy of Vasconia created in C7th and
the Kindom of Navarre in C9th ruled by a
monarchy for four centuries.
Navarre was the last region in the Iberian
Peninsula to fall under Castillan control.
The Spanish Crown conceded each region
in Spain the right to maintain juridical and
legislative independence with a set of
charters and statutes called fueros.
 1545 - the first book written in Basque of
which we have knowledge by the poet Bernard
 Basque has always had a minority status.
Even when most Basques were monolingual,
the Basque language did not serve high
Eg.official documents were traditionally written
in Latin or the Romance languages.
 The existence of at least four varieties of the
language made it even harder to promote.
From this history we can see that a sense of
separate cultural and political identity has
existed for many centuries.
Augustin Chano (1811-58)
“saw all Basque history as a history of national
defence against outside encroachment”.
The first to mention Euskal Herria as an oppressed
‘nationality’ ”
Some useful words…
Euskera – The Basque language
Euzkadi – word invented by Arana meaning ‘the place of Basque
Euskaldunak – ‘speakers of Basque’
Batua – Standardised version of Basque
Euskal-Herria – ‘country of Euskara’
Euskaldunberri – ‘new Basque speaker’
Middle ages to 1936
Basque Country – last region in Spain to
maintain their fueros.
1876 – Second Carlist War. Abolition of fueros
and Basque autonomy.
Industrialisation – Modernisation – Nationalism - Racialism
Appeared on the scene together.
1890s – PNV (partido nacionalista
vasco) – founded by Sabino Arana.
A political, isolationist and racialist
Reaction to:
a) high immigration to the cities and huge
social change
b) poor diffusion of the language
c) Difficulty faced by prospective learners
d) Unavailability of other national symbols
Also, heavily linked to Catholicism, with aims
to provide welfare to the poor.
- Half-forgotten and derided by natives as antimodern – just at the time when the Catalan
revival was happening.
- Was generally lost to the regional elite. Not
even leaders of the PNV were regular users.
As a result language was side-lined and did not
become a symbol of unity for nationalism.
1918 – The Congress of Basque Studies – acting independently of politics, the group
of intellectuals aimed towards language reform.
- The Basque Language Academy - was created aiming to work on a corpus of
Euskera and its status.
Language planning arose in conjunction with a host of social concerns: public health, schools, social
insurance, urban planning etc.
Fear of communism
Post-war depression
Ruling classes support for centralist governments in
the hope of quelling working class unrest.
PNV turned to away from defensive
nationalism to more dynamic anticapitalist ideology.
Remained crucial in the 1960s when Basque
nationalism turned to Marxism.
Although, the precepts established by
Arana dominated up until the Civil War
1923-30: Primo de Rivera dictatorship.
Repression of nationalist parties = boosted nationalist feelings.
Fall of the dictatorship: both Catalan and Basque nationalism emerged with renewed vigour.
1930-36: PNV became a Republican nationalist party under the Spanish Republic and
governed the autonomous government installed in the nine months before the outbreak of
the Civil War.
1) Aberri Eguna (día Nacional
• Domingo de Resurrección de 1882.
• Sabino Arana, fundador del Partido
Nacionalista Vasco (PNV) y padre del
nacionalismo vasco.
Evolución del nacionalismo vasco
• El PNV apoya al gobierno republicano, el cual, en Octubre de 1936,
aprueba el Estatuto de Autonomía del País Vasco. José María de
Aguirre (presidente del País Vasco) promueve la lengua vasca,
establece el orden y proporciona y distribuye comida a la población.
• Con la llegada de la Guerra Civil, el PNV se divide:
– Aquellos que van al exilio.
– Aquellos que permanecen en el País Vasco (los más tradicionalistas y
● 1945-1947: tras finalizar la II Guerra Mundial, cuentan con el apoyo
de los Aliados para luchar contra el fascismo.
● 1948-1952: con la llegada de la Guerra Fría, los americanos se
muestran más tolerantes con el régimen franquista. En
consecuencia, el nacionalismo vasco queda desprotegido y decae.
●1953-1960: nacimiento del nuevo nacionalismo.
Agrupaciones y actividades
• Emakume Abertzale Batzar: grupo de mujeres que llevan a cabo
actividades culturales y caritativas.
• Euzko Gaztedi (EGI): Juventudes Vascas. Utilizan la violencia en
contra de Franco.
• Confederación de Entidades Vascas de América.
• Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV):
– Interés por la difusión de la cultura (música, arte y folklore), la lengua y
el nacionalismo vasco.
– En Septiembre de 1955 publicó un artículo sobre los deberes que tenía
un buen nacionalista vasco:
a) Acudir y participar activamente en las reuniones del PNV.
b) Enseñar la cultura y lengua vasca en casa.
c) Difundir y hacer propaganda del nacionalismo vasco.
• Euzkadi ‘ta Askatasuna (ETA)
– 1952: fundación en la Universidad de Deusto por siete estudiantes.
– Libro Vasconia, escrito por Federico Krutwig.
Ikastolas (escuelas vascas)
• 1950: en casas e iglesias de manera
• Se prohíbe la enseñanza del euskera.
• 1970: son pocos los niños que acuden a las
ikastolas, no sólo por miedo sino también por el
alto coste.
• Finales 1970: se considera que las ikastolas han
conseguido que la lengua vasca sea
considerada como una lengua capaz de
adaptarse a la sociedad moderna y tener un
papel esencial en la educación.
Represión por parte de Franco
• 1937: caída de Bilbao. Supresión de la lengua vasca, cierre de
universidades vascas, prohibición de sociedades culturales vascas,
en los registros civiles los nombres vascos se cambian por nombres
españoles, se queman libros escritos en vasco.
• Se controla la distribución de alimentos, a los nacionalistas vascos
no se les permite tener propiedades, alrededor de mil niños vascos
fueron enviados a Rusia, 3500 vascos emigraron a México,
Venezuela y Argentina.
• 1968: Ley General de Educación. Se legalizan las ikastolas y se
autoriza la enseñanza de lenguas regionales. Se reanudan los
sermones en vasco y se permiten las agrupaciones de música y
• 1975: protección de las lenguas regionales, siempre y cuando se
siga considerando el español como lengua oficial.
Spanish Constitution 1978 (Section 3 preamble):
-‘Spanish is the official language of the State,’
-‘The other Spanish languages shall also be official in the
Self-governing communities in accordance with their
Basque Government formed in 1979
Basque Statute of Autonomy 1979 (Article 6):
-‘Euskera, the language of the Basque People, shall, like Spanish,
have the status of an official language in Euskadi. All its
have the right to know and use both languages,’
-‘The Royal Academy of the Basque Language is the official advisory
institution in matters regarding Euskera.’
HABE (Instituto para la Euskaldunización y Alfabetización de Adultos)
-Set up by the Basque Government in 1981
Attached to the Basque Department of Culture, it was created by the ‘Ley 29/1983’
-With its creation, the teaching of Basque took a new dimension, eg, he increased
production of Basque teaching materials
-Various functions to carry out its mission, eg, the design and implementation of
the curriculum for the teaching of Basque to adults
Elbide (Servicio para la Garantía de Derechos Lingüísticos)
-Set up by the ‘Viceconsejería de Política Lingüística’ as a result of the ‘Decreto
-Its aim is to achieve a real balance between the two official languages of the
Basque Country
-It does this by ensuring that everybody has the possibility to live normally within
the limits of their language, whatever it may be
Euskaltzaindia (The Academy for the Basque Language)
-Made the official consultative body of the Basque language by the Statute of Autonomy 1979 (Article 8)
-The work of Euskaltzaindia is concerned with both the corpus and the status of the language:
-Art.1. ‘The aim of this institution is to watch over the Basque language, paying close attention to its promotion,
both philologically and socially.’
-Art.2. ‘Accordingly, the Academy deals with both these areas in their respective sections: the Research
Section and the Tutelary Section, with members belonging to both.’
-Creation of Batua – the standardised version of the Basque language
EAS (System of Linguistic Indicators of Euskal Herria)
-Designed to provide local government, agents and organisations with detailed information about the status of
the Basque language within the Basque country
-This information is necessary in order to determine and evaluate the performance of the linguistic policies and
initiatives underway and to be able to adopt, in each particular area, the measures required to develop and
improve these.
-Linguistic indicators must take in consideration the factors present in each individual context, the operation,
costs and results of the aforementioned linguistic policies and initiatives and determine in what areas these
may be lacking.
Language Planning Measures
put in place post-Franco
• Ley Básica de la Normalización del Uso del Euskera / Law for
the Normalisation of the Use of Basque 1982.
• This included:
• - the right of students or their parents to choose the medium of
instruction is established;
• - pre-university students must receive language classes in the
official language not used as medium of instruction;
• - the Basque Government is to define the bilingual teaching models
to be offered to parents;
• - the Basque Government will take measures with regard to
teachers’ language competence, plans of study and teacher training
colleges in order to be able to satisfy parental demand for Basquemedium and language teaching.
Language Planning Measures
put in place post-Franco
Three linguistic models introduced into education system as a result of the
1983 law which established the use of Basque at pre-university levels in the
BAC. Children can complete their studies in one of the three following
Model A
Spanish as teaching medium, Basque as a subject (4 to 5 hours per week).
Model D
Basque as teaching medium, Spanish as a subject (4 to 5 hours per week).
Model B
Both Spanish and Basque as medium subject.
In this model the first three years of school are generally taught through
Basque. At the age of six - the first year of primary education, they start to
learn the reading–writing process and mathematics in Spanish.
Model X, - not official and has practically disappeared.
Spanish is used as the teaching medium and no Basque is present.
This was the regular programme during Franco´s regime.
Which Model has become the
most Popular?
• The figures for students enrolled in Model D have increased, while
those enrolled in Model A have decreased.
• 1983-84 Model A: 72.8%, Model B: 10.5%, Model D: 16.5%
• 2002-03 Model A: 30.6%, Model B: 22.5%, Model D: 46.4%
• Lasagabaster, D., and Huguet, A., Multilingualism in European
Bilingual Contexts: Language Use and Attitudes, (Clevedon,
[England], Buffalo, Multilingual Matters, 2007) p.69
• Euskal Ikasmaterialgintza (EIMA) programme for primary and
secondary schools
• The Department of Education subsidises the publication of school
materials (printed, audio, audio-visual, computer programmes and
CD-rom), so as to ensure that parents choosing Basque as a
medium for the education of their children do not have to spend
more on learning materials as a result of the smaller market
University Education
The Spanish Ley de Orgánica de Universidades,
approved in 2001 has been applied to the
Basque Autonomous Community.
Universities in the BAC must:
• Promote the defence, study and promotion of
the Basque cultural heritage.
• Promote the Basque Language.
• Introduce Basque in all areas of knowledge so
as to contribute to the normalisation of the use of
Failures of the Education
• One of the weaknesses of Basque in education
is its degree of dependence on non-native
• The demand for teaching depends on parental
choice, there is no guarantee that demand will
continue to expand.
• The use of Basque in education is linked to
nationalist politics. A decline in nationalist
strength could eventually lead to stagnation or
some decline in the offer of Basque language
Failures of the Education
• ‘The role of the school is vital, but the
production of competent second-language
speakers is not enough to ensure the
survival of Basque; it cannot improve the
situation on its own, Institutional action
alone, without the support of social
movements, is incapable of carrying out
this task successfully.’ Lasagabaster, D.,
and Huguet, A., Multilingualism in
European Bilingual Contexts. p.67
Politics of the Basque Country after Franco.
After Franco’s repression of Basque culture and language, the people began to want
to recover them. Legalisation and proliferation of Ikastolas, Euskaltegis (Basque
schools for adults), Bertsolaritza classes (a type of singing in Basque).
First general elections in 1979 saw EAJ-PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) and Herri
Batasuna (People’s Unity) received the most votes.
Politics of the Basque Country after
Elections have generally followed this trend ever since, with a gradual increase in
votes for the three main national parties (PP, PSOE and IU)
Politics of the Basque Country after
Politics of the Basque Country after
HB a coalition of more radical political groups, which called for the KAS Alternative,
which entailed
- Total amnesty for supporters/members of ETA.
- Recognition of Basque national sovereignty with the right to form an
independent nation state if so desired
- Expulsion of all Spanish police forces (Guardia Civil, etc.) from Euskadi.
- Autonomous powers over social, economic and political system.
They were also a lot more radical in their support for the Basque language- wanted
an education system completely in Basque, as in Catalunya. They pushed for the
creation of more Ikastolas, Euskaltegis, Basque-speaking youth groups etc.
In 1998, during ETAs temporary truce, HB decided not to stand, however, most of its
members did stand in the form of a temporary party Euskal Herritarrok, which
denounced violence.
Later, EH would reform and become Batasuna. In 2002, however, the party was
declared illegal under the Ley Orgánica de Partidos Políticos, as it was considered by
some to be the political branch of ETA.
Politics of the Basque Country after
PNV less radical. They fully condemn ETA, and are more moderate on the issue of
education in Basque.The Lehendakari (Basque President) has always been from
Current lehendakari: Juan José Ibarretxe. Ibarretxe is famous as the author of the
Ibarretxe Plan- new Statute of Autonomy. Its key points were:
-The people’s right to self-determination (i.e. independence)- Basques only part
of Spain by their own free choice.
-Separation of Basque Courts from Spanish courts.
-Creation of Basque citizens, and Basque nationals, with dual Spanish-Basque
nationality possible.
Plan was approved by the Basque parliament.
In 2005 the plan was sent to the Spanish Congreso and was rejected, 313 votes to
Politics of the Basque Country after
Batasuna rejected it as it did not go far enough, only encompassing three of the
seven Basque provinces, and allowing coexistence of Basque and Spanish
nationality within Euskadi.
ETAs violence, and Herri Batasuna’s failure to denounce it, have all served to
potentially damage the status of the Basque language- radical Basque nationalists
defend and speak in Basque, and the two may become associated and dissuade its
use. This does not happen, for example, in Catalunya and Galicia.
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Effectiveness Of Language
Planning Measures
Future Developments
• El Gobierno ha puesto en marcha una
serie de planes para incrementar el uso
del euskera en el mundo laboral.
• Programa LanHitz:
“El programa LanHitz es una iniciativa
destinada a incrementar el uso y la
presencia del euskera también en el
mundo del trabajo.”
Future Developments
• Marco de Referencia Estándar:
“El Marco de Referencia Estándar,
también denominado EME, es un cuadro
de ayuda en el que se encuentran todos
los campos propios de cualquier empresa
con relación al lenguaje.”
Future Developments
• Plan General de Promoción del Uso del Euskera
(EBPN) para seguir avanzando en la
normalización lingüística.
Tres objetivos básicos:
-La transmisión del euskera
-Uso social
-Calidad de la lengua.
• Certificados que acrediten que las empresas
llevan a cabo estos planes correctamente.
Future Developments
• Think Gaur Euskadi 2020, un proyecto
que pretende conseguir una educación
trilingüe y dar a conocer la cultura vasca.
• Continuar mejorando en materia
-Cualificación lingüística del profesorado
-Estudios universitarios
-Formación Profesional
The Franco years and beyond, Clark, Robert P.
The Basques, the Catalans and Spain, Conversi, Daniele
Divided Nations: class, politics, and Nationalism in the Basque Country and Catalonia,
Díez Medrano, Juan
Lasagabaster, D., and Huguet, A., Multilingualism in European Bilingual Contexts:
Language Use and Attitudes, (Clevedon, [England], Buffalo, Multilingual Matters,
Urla, Jacqueline, 1993. Cultural politics in an age of statistics. Numbers, nations and the
making of Basque Identity. American Ethnologist, 20:4 pp.818-843

Political History - University of Birmingham