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Bertan > The Basque language > The social fabric of the basque language k
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The social fabric of the basque language k


The primary agent of the recovery of the Basque language and its culture has been the social and civic initiative of the Basque people themselves. The regional public institutions have played no less an important role, demonstrating that the combined work of society at large and the public authorities is of fundamental importance for the revitalisation of the language and culture.

418. When a community takes the decision to save a language, it is already half-way there (…). To be successful, you have to capture people's hearts as well as their heads. David Crystal, linguist, speaking in Bilbao. 24 September 2007. 419. From the creation of regional public institutions, the public authorities have played an equally important role in the revitalisation of language and culture. The social partners have continued to be an essential part of this process and the collaboration between the two, which has not always been smooth, continues to be decisive. 420. Social initiative is the driving force behind the revitalisation of the Basque language. From a collective pride and empathy for the language, it has been the social organisations that have played the most important role in the process of recovery. 421. The final event in the Bai euskarari campaign, promoted by Euskaltzaindia, was held in 1978 in the San Mamés football stadium in Bilbao and attracted a crowd of 40,000 people. 422. Twenty years later, the organisation Kontseilua (The Council of Social Bodies of the Basque Language) reintroduced the same slogan for its campaign, and managed to fill five football stadiums around the Basque Country (El Sadar, Aguilera, Mendizorroza, Anoeta and San Mamés) with over 120,000 people. 423. Basque lovers from all fields of life came together in 1998 at the Euskararen Unibertsoa symposia on the situation of the associations in the field of Basque. Out of this meeting was born Euskararen Gizarte Erakundeen Kontseilua, created to give greater social impetus to the language. 424. The first associations of the Basque language were created at local level in the 1980s, and sought to encourage standardisation of the Basque language and its use as the primary language at all times and in all fields. The pioneer was Arrasate Euskaldundu Dezagun (AED) in Arrasate-Mondragón, Gipuzkoa. AED called on the Town council to create a Municipal Basque Committee and to form a Technical Bureau of Basque. 425. Other associations have since been created, most members of the Topagunea Federation (1996), to promote this type of organisation and organise services and meeting points for them. The federation also handles other areas of the language: media published exclusively in Basque, cultural activities, leisure, children's affairs, youth and new Basque speakers. 426. One of its most successful programmes is the initiative Mintzalaguna-Mintzakide, which since 1993 organises leisure and sports venues where small groups can communicate in Basque. Nearly 4,000 adults are now involved in the scheme. 427. Many town councils have set up Basque language departments and the figure of the Basque technician has also been created. 428. Most of the associations of Basque were set up in the 1990s, including Ttakun, in Lasarte; Bagera in San Sebastian, Berbaizu in Deusto and Galtzaundi in Tolosa. In Pamplona, Zaldiko Maldiko has been operating since 1981 429. In 1982, the Basque Parliament enacted Act 10/1982 governing standardisation of the use of Basque. It opened the way for a large number initiatives on linguistic policy and offered the Basque language the support of the institutions for its recovery and in guaranteeing its usage. This marked the introduction of Basque into academia, education and the public service. In 1983 the Basque Institute of Public Administration, IVAP, was founded, working for the standardisation of the use of Basque in the public service and the consolidation of the administrative language. 430. In 20 years the situation has changed greatly: more than half of public sector workers in the Basque Autonomous Community are now capable of using Basque as their working language. During the government of Juan José Ibarretxe, the Basque Government set itself the target of ensuring that practically half of all civil servants would have a reasonable mastery of the language. By 2007 over 12,000 public-sector workers spoke Basque. 431. In the business area, too, there are examples of linguistic standardisation. The Asesorías Elhuyar Aholkularitza (created in 1991 by the Elhuyar Foundation), or EMUN (the cooperative which, since 1997, has provided language services in the labour area), design tailor-made programmes for incorporating Basque into business, and offer advice on the matter. 432. In 1991, the Association of Basque municipalities (UEMA) as founded to promote and guarantee the use of Basque in municipalities where the majority of inhabitants are Basque-speaking, and to standardise its use as the primary language in both the private area and in schools, the administration, the social services ad in the employment field.
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