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An official language at last!


With the death of Franco in 1975, the dictatorship came to an end. The Spanish Constitution was passed into law in 1978, although it did not receive the support of the majority in the Basque Country where it was considered not to fulfil the aspirations of Basque society. With the passing of the Statute of Guernica in 1979, Basque became a fully official language throughout the territory of the Basque Autonomous Community. The same is not true in Navarre or in the Northern Basque Country. With this new officialdom, Basque culture began a quarter century of major regulatory, social and educational change. The language was rolled out throughout society, entering the university and television for the first time. Literary magazines provided a laboratory for major contemporary authors.

274. The Basque General Council (1978-1980) paved the way for the Statute of Autonomy, which was passed into law in Guernica in 1980, and for the first Basque Government, presided over by Carlos Garaikoetxea (EAJ-PNV). With the promulgation of the Statute, Basque gained official status in the Basque Autonomous Community, on a par with Spanish. 275. The magazine Oh Euzkadi!, which for a year had been a supplement to Zeruko Argia, appeared as a free-standing publication in May 1980. 276. Koldo Izagirre and Joseba Irazu (Bernardo Atxaga) set up Ustela (1975), a magazine whose six issues showed a clear commitment to literature. It was soon followed by Pott (1980) which included Atxaga, the singer-songwriter Ruper Ordorika and the poets Manu Ertzilla and Joseba Sarrionandia and Jon Juaristi. In San Sebastian too, a number of new publications were released, including Susa (1980), and Oh Euzkadi! (1980), in which Izagirre and Ramon Saizarbitoria continued the work begun with Ustela, while Maiatz (1982) was published on the northern side of the border. 277. BAI EUSKARARI. Euskaltzaindia organised the Bai euskarari (Yes to Basque) campaign to promote the language and raise funds. The popular emblem for the initiative was designed by artist Nestor Basterretxea. 278. From the outset, the new autonomous Basque Government saw television and radio as being essential for the survival and standardisation of the Basque language. Euskal Irrati Telebista EITB, the Basque Radio and Television service went on air for the first time on 31 December 1981. Its first channel was broadcast entirely in Basque. Since 2001 ETB SAT has broadcast to the rest of Spain and Europe, with Canal Vasco covering the Americas, ETB1 in Basque, ETB2 in Spanish and since 2008, ETB3, catering for young people and leisure pursuits. 279. Emblem of Basque Television. 280. It was a significant decade for literature in Basque, with avantgarde experimentation and expressive challenges in both poetry and prose. Key figures of the 1970s included Koldo Izagirre (Zergatik bai), Ramon Saizarbitoria (Ehun metro), and Arantxa Urretabizkaia (Zergatik Panpox). 281. Jon Zabaleta, (Hernani, 1950). In his work as a poster-designer and illustrator for a variety of publications, this prolific artist expressed the Basque cultural heritage and imaginarium. Cover of the disc "Txano Gorritxo". 282. The study of place names has commonly been used to research the origins and development of the Basque language. The researcher José Maria Jimeno Jurío (Artajona, 1927-2002) based most of his vast collection of work on Navarrese Basque on toponyms. 283. In Navarre, the Law on Reintegration and Improvement of the Local Regime (1982) gave Basque an official status in Basque-speaking areas. Later, the 1986 Foral Law of the Basque language divided Navarre into three linguistic zones: the Basque-speaking area in the North West, where Basque enjoys official status; the Mixed area, which includes the capital, Pamplona, where the majority of speakers are concentrated; and the Non Basque-speaking area, in the south, where it has no special status. This classification is also used to determine the models of public education on offer and the presence of Basque in them. 284. Olariaga created Zakilixut, the hero of a series of comic strips published for many years in the newspapers Egin, Egunkaria and Berria. 285. In photography, new creators such as Sigfrido Koch (San Sebastian 1936-1992) and the Egiguren brothers (San Sebastian 1936 and 1938), helped develop a new aesthetic of the Basque soul. Photography by Sigfrido Koch, 1979. 286. During these years, the company Bertan Filmeak presented its Ikuska, short films in which the new figures in the fledgling Basque cinema analysed topical themes. Xabier Agirresarobe, Antton Ezeiza, Koldo Izagirre, Mirentxu Loiarte, Juanba Berasategi, Vicente Carda, Montxo Rejano and Jose Luis Zabala produced films in Basque, intended to inform, train new professionals and standardise the Basque language. 287. In 1977, Erein launched the magazine Ipurbeltz which remained in print until 2008. Designed for children and young people, it became the longest-running comic in Basque, with illustrations by Anjel Lertxundi, Ion Zabaleta and Antton Olariaga, among others. 288. During this decade, the philologist and linguist Txepetx, José María Sánchez Carrión (Cartagena, 1952), conducted numerous studies on the situation of Basque, bilingualism and diglossia, based on the sociolinguistic situation of Navarre. Given the date of its publication and the new analysis it offered, his work was of key importance, especially his Un futuro para nuestro pasado: claves de la recuperación del euskara y teoría social de las lenguas (1987). Txepetx developed an original linguistic model of his own (hololinguistics), based on socio-linguistic data and added social, psychological and ethical perspectives. A language, Txepetx argues, should not be preserved, but used. Preserving it means, to some extent, signing its death warrant. We need to make Basque necessary. 289. In the Basque-language musical scene, following on from the central role played by singer-songwriters, other innovative groups of great quality emerged, including Haizea (1977), Izukaitz (1978), Errobi (1976) and Itoiz (1978). 290. The University of the Basque Country was born out of the Autonomous University of Bilbao, founded in 1968. In 1980, the university district was extended to include Alava and Gipuzkoa, and it became the University of the Basque Country. The university's statutes, drawn up in 1985, list the use, encouragement and teaching of Basque as being among its priority objectives. To achieve this goal, the university created the Office of the Vice-rector for Basque, the Institute of Basque and Basque Committees in each centre.
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