“The Alan R. King Chair has allowed us to share experiences between the Welsh and Basque communities”

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


Imanol Larrea is the first researcher to have taken part in the recently inaugurated Alan R. King Chair and assessed the experience as very positive. The Fellowship is the result of an agreement between the Etxepare Basque Institute and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. During his stay in Wales, Larrea lectured on Basque sociolinguistics and learned about the Welsh sociolinguistic situation.

More specifically, he presented the work carried out by Soziolinguistika Klusterra (Sociolinguistics Cluster) aimed at changing language habits and provided participants with background information to help them understand the Basque situation. Imanol Larrea is director of the Sociolinguistics Cluster, where he manages and develops various strategies and projects.

The programme organised for the presentation of the Alan R King Chair included an academic and a cultural part. Larrea´s headlined the academic part with a lecture entitled ‘Sociolinguistic Methodologies and Changing Language Habits: experiences from the Basque Country’.

- What was it like to participate in the Alan R King Chair?

- I went to Wales in October for a six-week stay. It was the right time of year to travel, so the experience was very nice and I was warmly welcomed at all levels. They know a lot about us. Many of the people I met had even travelled to the Basque Country, so making all those connections was a pleasure. At the Cluster we believe it is essential to share experiences between the Welsh and Basque contexts, because in many aspects we are very much alike. The Alan R. King Chair has allowed this exchange to become a reality. Now the challenge will be to continue what has been started, to move beyond this point of contact.

- What was the purpose of your stay in Wales?

- We carried out two main activities: a conference at the National Library of Wales on sociolinguistic research to change language habits in the Basque Country: various experiences/ Basque Country and Wales: jointly building sociolinguistic research to change language habits´, and a seminar in Cardiff. At the first one, I presented the research we do in the Sociolinguistics Cluster with a view to changing linguistic habits. In other words, what and how we do it. To do this, I had to explain the Basque situation to better frame the content.

In Cardiff, I delved deeper into the Soziolinguistika Klusterra projects by blocks and themes, and we discussed the possibilities of collaboration. We also held training sessions with local undergraduate and postgraduate students and Welsh teachers: we analysed the educational models in the Basque Country and talked to Welsh teachers about adult literacy, for example.

- So you introduced them to the work you do at Soziolinguistika Klusterra.

- Following the philosophy of the Alan R King Chair, the aim was to bring to light the cluster’s work in changing language habits and to learn about Welsh initiatives and meet researchers. The aim of this connection was to generate an exchange, to share our work, and to see how we could work together. The most difficult thing was precisely to open up avenues of collaboration, since that requires more time.

- Is there any ongoing dialogue?

- Although do not yet know the specifics, we are looking at how to adapt the ‘Measurement of Language Use’ to their needs and generate a pilot project that they can apply and develop. Currently, this study is an essential reference for describing the situation of the Basque language or for defining lines of work. It’s also essential for those responsible for language policy, researchers or people working to promote the Basque language. We want to carry out the first pilot test in 2023 in Wales. This way we would achieve the goal defined in the Alan R. King Chair of working together to change linguistic habits.

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