The reverberation of Euskaraldia around the world

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.

2018-12-13

This year saw the first edition of Euskaraldia, held from November 23rd to December 3rd. The aim of this collective activity was to foster the use of spoken Basque over 11 days so that the practice would have an impact on society from the 12th day on. The people who took part in this initiative (more than 200,000 signed on) had to choose between two roles: ahobizi (those who would speak in Basque for 11 days to everyone who understood the language, and would initially address strangers in Basque first) or belarriprest (those who would ask people to speak to them in Basque, even if they answered in Spanish).

This year saw the first edition of Euskaraldia, held from November 23rd to December 3rd. The aim of this collective activity was to foster the use of spoken Basque over 11 days so that the practice would have an impact on society from the 12th day on. The people who took part in this initiative (more than 200,000 signed on) had to choose between two roles: ahobizi (those who would speak in Basque for 11 days to everyone who understood the language, and would initially address strangers in Basque first) or belarriprest (those who would ask people to speak to them in Basque, even if they answered in Spanish).

The Etxepare Basque Institute, whose aim is to foster Basque language and culture worldwide, organized various activities to promote this 11-day initiative in several countries, through the network of Basque language and culture readers. The purpose of these activities was to encourage people to take part in this collective exercise, while adapting it to local circumstances and conditions.

Several activities were organized over the course of 11 days in countries including Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Konstanz), Japan (Tokyo), Czech Republic (Brno), Poland (Warsaw, Poznan), France (Pau), Scotland (Edinburgh), Italy (Bologna, Venice), Argentina (La Plata, Buenos Aires), Mexico (Mexico City), Chile (Santiago), Uruguay (Montevideo), United States (Boise), Cuba (Havana), and in Barcelona. Among the organized activities, there were talks, Basque classes, mintzodromos (gatherings to speak in Basque), concerts, culinary gatherings, radio programmes and movies.

These are some of the guest artists and experts that took part in the activities: Mikel Peruarena (writer), Ingo Niebel (historian and journalist), Ugarte Anaiak (txalaparta players), Hedoi Etxarte (writer), Amaia Elizagoin (storyteller), Asier Serrano (writer and musician) and Alejandro Pulido (historian). Activities also included Basque cinema, with full-length films Handia and Loreak, and Kimuak short films.

In general terms, Euskaraldia has had considerable repercussions worldwide, with each country playing a part. The Basque language students at universities and Basque Centres (Euskal Etxeak) were keen to take part in the initiative, proactively putting into practice everything they learned over the 11 days, and showed their interest in bolstering the ranks of new Basque speakers worldwide. During this initiative, the network of speakers has demonstrated that Basque can be learned by making an effort to speak a little every day.

The effort made during Euskaraldia by Basque speakers in other countries has been brought to the forefront here in the Basque Country, especially through social media. Some posts from abroad have gone viral; for example, videos  from two Universities in Tokyo showing Japanese students speaking Basque.

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