Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


2013 Appendix 6(30)

Language, border territories and need for language. Proceedings of the Conference

Russian version: Язык, приграничные территории и потребность в языке: материалы конференции

Conference “Language, border territories and need for language: the comparative analysis of a language situation in the Republic of Karelia (Russian Federation) and the Basque Country (France)” was devoted to one of the most actual for the humanitarian science and for society problem.

Significance of this problem is connected with the modern situation of ambiguity and globalization, expanding international contacts and, at the same time, strengthening intensity and a frustration in relationship of people belonging to different nations and different cultures. Thus it is necessary to study psycholinguistic, social-linguistic and semantic tendencies of emergence and development of requirement for mastering and language use (language need) in border areas of its distribution. The obtained material must be analyzed in discourses of psychological and semantic standpoints.

It is possible to assume that language barriers reduce tolerance in intergroup communication, increasing intensity, especially at contact of “small” and “big” ethnos in regions of their compact accommodation. At the same time expansion of language consciousness not only increases tolerance and creativity of the person, but also considerably expands borders of their self-image and structures the image of the world.

In reports were analyzed the changes happening in structure and form of language in the course of interaction of people, interrelation between native / dominating language, their role in content of ethnic, sociocultural and personal identity of people, as well as the role of requirement for mastering and use of native language in the course of socialization in multicultural society.

Tatyana Martsinkovskaya. Karelian identity and the role of mother language in its formation

Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia

The concept “language need” is new in personal psychology. As it states in psychological investigations the actualization of need is connected with external stimulation. These situations were investigated in sociolinguistics and, partially, in ethnopsychology. But internal emotions and attitudes of the person experiencing this need, its personal meanings connected with comprehension of importance of mastering and use of the mother language, being minority, represent a special problem and actually so far weren't studied. However, it is this aspect of the research which is very significant, especially in a context of modern social transformations.

The analysis of social transformations shows that such ambiguity and mutable society is characterized by the following phenomena:
1. Globalization which leads to space expansion including spaces of interpersonal contacts.
2. Strengthening of the social ambiguity connected, first of all, with continuous modifications of values, norms, standards of the modern, changing world.
3. Increasing of the socialization process’s duration, activation of re-socialization and melted socialization.
4. Expansion of information space and strengthening of its role, partly replacing intergenerational communication.

These changes require reviewing the identity and socialization concepts and development of new methodology and new research methods. The wholeness of the identity is associated with the culture instead of life cycles. Thus is actualized the concept of linguistic and sociocultural identity. In this case, the language form is embedded not linguistic or philosophical, but the psychological content, similar to the contemporary narrative approach, considering the person as the text, which is written (and is expressed and understood) by a certain language.

In the course of empirical research were used the following methods:
– the modified technique of M.Kuhn which included 20 points of the self-description and 10 points of the description through the eyes of others;
– technique of “Feature of ethnic identity”;
– questionnaire “Reference groups”;
– scale “Stability – instability”;
– method to anxiety study of A Prihozan.

After assignments respondents were interviewed about their plans for the future.

The study involved students of Petrozavodsk State University. In total 178 people were interrogated. As a result of the conducted research were worked out the following criteria on the basis of which divided all respondents into groups:
– attitude to the native (minority) language and culture;
– attitude to the Russian language and world culture;
– parameters of a choice of reference persons (values, interests, personal features, common ethnic group).

The following groups were allocated:
The 1st group – the students focused on universal values, world culture, Russian language – 25% of respondents.
The 2nd group – the students focused mainly on national culture, bilingual – 64% of respondents.
The 3rd group – aggressive orientation to national culture, but not on native language – 11% of respondents.

The obtained data shows, what even aggressively opposed to foreign culture respondents don't refuse to use Russian language, and not only in official contacts, but also at communication with friends. The differences between the groups have less to do with the instrumental aspect of the linguistic identity, but with the emotional attitude to language and other cultures, to people of other nationalities. This difference in the attitudes is clearly reflected in the images of the future.

Thus, it is possible to state that the need for native language, which is minority in relation to the language of large group, in situation of cohabitation, is actualized in the certain circumstances connected with infringement (real or imaginary) the status of this language. The universal belittling of the status of the Karelian language doesn't happen. At the same time, loss by this language of many functions in situations of extensive and/or official contacts, certainly, takes place. The negative personal phenomenology as shows empirical data arises only at emergence of actually personal problems which often not even related to the frustration of language need or linguistic identity.

Alain Viaut. Sociolinguistic parameters of the Karelian language: between language need and legitimacy

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Bordeaux 3 University, UMR 5478 IKER, Bordeaux, France

Sociolinguistic configuration of the Karelian language can be defined in terms of language processing (langue par élaboration), created on the basis of its identification and representation as independent language since the 20th century. Up to this point the Karelian language was perceived as an adverb, continuation of a dialect continuum of the Finnish language space. Identification and separation of the Karelian language of Finnish continuum contributed to the establishment of strict political boundaries in the 20th century, which, however, as a whole coincided with old political and cultural zones (Orthodoxy vs Catholicism/Protestantism). Political boundaries between the USSR and then Russia and Finland, established by the Tartu (10.14.1920) and the Moscow Treaty (21.03.1922), have contributed significantly to the consolidation of the Karelian language sociolinguistic status. However, the fluctuations in the foreign policy of the Soviet Russia in relation to Finland in fact led to the preferential promotion of the Finnish standard language, to the detriment of the measures which could serve acquisition by the Karelian language of the independent sociolinguistic status. Today, after a difficult period of development, the Karelian language in the primordial territories is minority (between 3 and 4% of speaking, mainly advanced and advanced age). Unlike other eponimichnyh languages of the republics of the Russian Federation, it is not an official, the process of its standardization is far from complete (the uniform official spelling adopted in 2007), there are three dialect versions exist (Livvik actually Karelian and Ludic). However, at least for the first two, the common name “Karelian” seems quite natural in the eyes of its carriers (research 2011–2012).

The Karelian language became object of a state program 1995 on its “revival”, the purpose of which was the revitalization through education and the implementation in social life. Language is taught, but not used as the as teaching language. The situation was aggravated during the recent federal reform of the education system: without having the purpose of reduction of teaching of the Karelian language (no more, than any other “minor” discipline), they led to sharp reduction in the Karelian language learning opportunities. On the other hand, while cultural associations like “Young Karelia” involve in an orbit of their activity the creative young people attached to their country and culture, lack of work and economic attractiveness of neighboring Finland pushes the active Karelian population to departure to this country. In such situation, the Karelian language in education gives way to the Finnish and its possession, even minimal, is seen as a stepping stone to study Finnish. The situation leads to a latent conflict between the Karelian identity and high pragmatic potential of the Finnish language, close and clear to the part of population. As show the results of the first survey, conducted in late 2011 and aimed at clarifying the sociolinguistic configuration and position of the Karelian language, it is less and less demand for communication purposes. Russian in this sphere is quite sufficient and satisfying all. Village extinction, reduction of number of villagers, especially in areas with traditionally low population density, greatly contributed to the displacement of the communicative needs in the Karelian language, including the family sphere.

In the 20th century the instrumental need for language steadily decreased. One of the main reasons was reduction of the indigenous population, caused by resettlement to this region for development of the forest industry immigrants from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The conducted research showed that nevertheless there is a need for the Karelian language for the tourism sector where it can serve as a means of communication with visiting Finnish tourists and to a small extent can be used to transfer the historical and cultural information. In interview there is evidence of use of the Karelian language in work of guides in museums and other tourist organizations as well as in hotel business (the district of Olonets).The identification requirement is a seemingly insignificant, but it is on the leading edge. It was marked out at those who attends courses of the Karelian language at the Center of national cultures in Petrozavodsk (there are not many), at participants of various choirs singing in Karelian, the actors of puppet theater, giving performances in the Karelian language. If there is a need for instrumental Karelian language, it is evidently based on the identification requirement. A sense of belonging to the linguistic community as it seems at first glance, is supported by the existence of three national administrative regions (Olonetsky, Pryazhensky and Kalevala), in which the Karelian language enjoys more broad support.

However in republic scales the status of historical languages of this territory (Karelian, Veppsky, Finnish) remains not quite certain (article 11.1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Karelia of 12.02.2001). Karelian language is identical to the name of the Republic. The Legislative Assembly of the Republic adopted laws on support of historical languages, including Karelian. However, it continues to be an extremely difficult demographic situation and in a condition of the competition to closely related and geographically adjacent standard Finnish language. This fact adversely influences possibility of receiving by the Karelian language official status in the republic.

The language consciousness of carriers of the Karelian language as a whole can be described as residual and fragmentary. In the conditions of rather weak language standardization and coexistence of different dialect forms, this is hardly capable to lead to policy of the language planning which aims to create a situation of real language use. In this lies the main reason of mainly symbolic functions of Karelian language. This language as one of symbols of the republic of the same name, can find support through the use in the most prestigious spheres, but in this case it becomes no more than a cultural symbol, and a symbol of compensatory type. In this function it is presented on bilingual road signs at entrance to settlements of national areas.

Despite the generally unfavorable situation, the interest in the Karelian language is stored at part of the actual Karels, as well as those of other ethnic origins living in the territory of the republic. This fact is expressed in the in personal self-identification, which, to varying degrees, either spontaneously or consciously includes the person in cultural and linguistic space. Individuality of this region and language with which is associated a significant body of folklore and one of the one of the greatest eposes (Kalevala) can also play a role in this process.

Indisputable fact is that for minority language such as Karelian, as well as for any other being in similar situation, the language legitimation can be carried out on two levels. The conducted researches showed that the frustration of native speakers associated with the lack of the legitimate status of this language, cannot be eliminated by giving for it status of official language. It is necessary to feel at least a minimum of its social significance. The state support of editions in the Karelian language and mass media, the help to various cultural associations could play a positive role in this process. The question of teaching Karelian and in the Karelian language remains very problematic. However, isn’t the weak interest to the language in this area a consequence of its low official status and its proximity to the more sought-after Finnish language?

Svetlana Moskvichyova. Influence of language representation in consciousness of its carriers on its vitality and need: the Karelian language in the present and the future

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russia

Case researches of language are insufficient at definition the extent of its vitality and the need for it. Irrational factors of love/dislike for language, degree of its prestige in language collective, subjective ideas of its potential can be decisive. The complex of the similar phenomena in modern sociolinguistics is called “representation of language in consciousness of its carriers”. This phenomenon arises in a situation of an unbalanced diglossia and is described in terms of metalinguistic discourse and epilinguistic, which reveals the degree of of language consciousness. A case in point is the ideological rather than conceptual categories, not on the actual repertoire of language but it’s symbolic, even mythological being. The present study is based on data from questionnaires and interviews with native speakers and subjects of language policy, gathered in the course of the study in 2011–2012 years.

In this work we relied on works and methods of Catalan sociolinguistic School and the School of Montpellier (R.Lafont, H.Boyer), within which the diglossia is described in terms of the conflict in which there are possible most controversial types of behavior in relation to language: “from sense of shame and guilt to its idealization, from denial to fetish, from stigma to mythologizing” [Boyer, 1990, p. 106].

So different representations which also are widely presented in our material are manifestations of one essence, namely the reaction to the unbalanced situation of diglossia, in fact polyglossia as in studied communicative space are mostly used developed Russian and Finnish. The Karelian language is weakly developed, has short-lived written tradition, but, however, in consciousness of its carriers has the strong socio-linguistic status of a “language” and a positive image in terms epi-linguistic. In such situations, the instrumental role of  language is decreases and its symbolical role increases: in particular, the language becomes identity marker. Symbolic function, in our opinion, is the leading and perhaps the only one on which the identification need for the Karelian language is formed.

Pierre Bourdieu's works (1982) showed the correlation that exists between the level of language acquisition, his transfer to the next generation and its prestige, which is definitely connected with representation of language in consciousness of its carriers. Research confirmed the expected high level of prestige of the Russian language. Data on the Karelian and Finnish language varies, depending on a research venue. In Petrozavodsk the average position is taken by the Finnish language, in the southern regions of Karelia (zones Olonets and Ludic dialects) the Finnish language slightly inferior Karelian, which social representation is positive, but is based almost only on symbolical function.

Representation merges with the concept of linguistic norm. Generally, if in language society the concept of norm is firmly formed, the clearer perception and representation of language, as the latter appeals to the norm standard or norm model (Bossong 1996). If the speaking reflects on language, as a rule, he estimates it in axiological categories: it is “well”, “correct” or “bad”, “wrong”, that is, the language is assessed in relation to the ideal norm. Obtained data shows existence of norm standard in consciousness of native speakers.  Formation and implementation norms models now are certainly a positive process in support of the Karelian language.  However, as practice of language normalization in other regions (Occitan, Galician language) implementation of standards can promote the gap between the normalized language and dialects, to lower dialect’s prestige. Thus leads to lower prestige of speech of the last “natural” native speakers, deepening existing gap between generations. In the case of the Karelian language situation is aggravated by such factor as the coexistence of the three dialects, the conflict of two norms, extremely insignificant number of native speakers in republic and existence of closely related codified and literary development Finnish language.

At the same time, developing the ideas of William Labov (1976) about the language community as a group native speakers sharing one language norms and having the identical relation to language in the social plan, D.Noelle (1980) considers that the language community can have one value concepts of language, but the different attitude towards them. In other words, society recognizes legality of existence of norm at variability of its observance. Confirmation of this thesis was recorded in a number of interviews. In principle, any reference to the norm is already a language reflection, an indicator of active sense of language, the factor of personal will and responsibility, which no doubt will play a positive role to destiny of the Karelian language. Awareness of the language, in any of the existing paradigms (regulatory, social, identity) creates a particular type of its representation in the consciousness of speakers. Karelian language, along with the traditional culture plays a key role in the identification paradigm, thereby providing it let minimal, but the real presence in the community.


Bossong G. Normes et conflits normatifs. In: P. Nelde et al. (Eds.), Kontaktlinguistik. Ein Handbuch der internationalen Forschung. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1996. pp. 609–624.

Bourdieu P. Ce que parler veut dire. L'économie des échanges inguistiques. Paris: Fayard, 1982.

Boyer H. Matériaux pour une approche des représentations sociolinguistiques. Eléments de définition et parcours documentaire en diglossie. Langue Française 85, 1990, No. 1, 102–124.

Noël D. Parler comme du monde ou parler comme tout le monde: rapport à la langue et appartenance de classe. Langue et societé, 1980, No. 12, 3–31.

Viaut A., Moskvichyova S.A. Problema reprezentatsii yazyka v soznanii ego nositelei v usloviyakh yazykovogo prigranich'ya: k voprosu o potrebnosti v karel'skom yazyke. Vestnik Rossiiskogo universiteta druzhby narodov. Ser.: Psikhologiya i pedagogika, 2013, No. 1. (in Russian)

Jean Leonard Leo, Ksenia Djordjevic Leonard. From Saransk to Petrozavodsk: possible approaches to the study and preparation of linguistic documentation of Finno-Ugric languages in the Russian Federation

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paris 3, IUF and UMR7018, Paris, France
University of Montpellier 3, Laboratory Dipralang, Montpellier, France

In cooperation with Saransk State University and the Institute for Human Sciences we carried out a number of field researches aimed at studying modern dialectal variants of Erzya and Moksha languages in the Republic of Mordovia in 2003 and 2004. During our first stay in the territory of Finno-Ugric peoples in the Russian Federation, we’ve also had a chance to familiarize ourselves with a number of valuable works on Mordvinian linguistics. In addition to field studies of vernacular dialects of Erzya and Moksha, performed on the basis of  phonological and morphosyntactic surveys, we also took advantage of numerous scientific papers, published studies and unpublished documents that are stored in university libraries and archives. In the course of the fieldwork in the villages we were able to observe the conditions of the language planning, which has been started with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result of these two research trips a series of publications on Mordovinian languages and their socio-linguistic situation came out in France.

After ten years had elapsed we plan to visit the Republic of Karelia. This time with a more specific objective: to study actual written sources in Vepsian and recommence the field research, which will contain two types of questionnaire polls: first, sociolinguistic type, based on a questionnaire aimed at the study of the language planning “from below”, and second, linguistic type, based on the phonological and morphological questionnaire focused on the dialects of northern Vepsians. The main objective of this study is to render assistance to the research project “The necessity of mastering and speking languages in the outlying districts: psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects”. (The research is funded by RGNF within the research project RGNF “The necessity of mastering and speking languages in the outlying districts: psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects”, project number 11-26-17001a/Fra). In our study we rely on the results of our previous experience in Mordovia, which has showed the richness and variety of empirical, methodological and theoretical study of linguistic minorities in Russia, including both published and unpublished materials. Thus, this project will favour the development of scientific research in Russia, as well as the dynamic two-way data exchange. It seems to us that the situation in the Republic of Karelia somehow differs from the situation in Mordovia, as far as here the scientific research is held in cooperation with different organizations on cultural development and their impact on the language policy and language planning is far more significant. According to the hypothesis of interaction and interdependance of basic and applied researches aimed at studying the threatened minority language of the Finnish family, we decided to conduct our research in Petrozavodsk region densely populated by Vepsians.

Due to two previous trips to Mordovia a whole number of works, including joint studies/collaborations of L.Leonard. and C.Djordjevic was published. Interdisciplinary approach is a distinguishing feature of these scientific works: they combine theoretical and formal linguistics, sociolinguistics, cultural linguistics, dialectology. Furthermore this approach refers to various scientific works that would not have been done without the field of research and work with primary sources. Another distinctive feature of this project is a possibility of further valorisation of Mordovian scientists’ reserches, as well as studies of their Finnish and Hungarian colleagues, on the basis of descriptive models of Mordovinian and Russian languages. That's why sociolinguistic questionnaires on the prospects of revitalization of Veppsian language will be conducted simultaneously with the linguistic and dialectical studies of descriptive nature, aiming to the phonological and morphological modeling of Veppsian dialects in general and the northern dialect in particular.

We would like to contribute, not only to sociological research of Veppsian language, but also to the methodology of documenting of endangered languages (documentary linguistics), including the ethnography of communication and linguistic anthropology. Unlike Vepsian the majority of threatened and endangered languages does not have such a detailed description, so it seems possible to us to appeal to Veppsian model when studying unexplored features of these languages. We can speak with confidence  about following perspectives: collection of material in Vepsian about the lives of three generations (from grandchildren to grandparents), re-creation in new grahpics of significant corpus of fairy tales, legends and traditions collected in the territories speaking Veppsian dialects by such scholars as Lauri Kettunen, Emil Nestor Setala and Juho Heikki Kala, in cooperation with literary circles activists; system data analysis of morphosyntactic description. Sociolinguistic research, in its turn, will focus on the subjects of language policy and language revitalization process. We will also conduct biographical interviews, relying on the biography methodology of D.P Roos (finish school) on the following aspects: internal and external freedom of will, critical experience and personal and public spheres of life, areas of interest.

The project, realized within the framework of our research implies the disclosure of the concept of “language necessity” in their symbolic, determinative and communicative aspects. From our point of view, these needs are not limited to the requirements laid down in a certain type of language policy, and are more than just fulfillment of the requirements of identity: they are aimed at resolving contradictions between minority language and culture and a nation-state, which appear in the civic stand of different groups of people on their way to obtaining historical identity. In order to reveal language necesseties, we aim to identify and understand the motives of those who learn and speak Veppsian, for those for whom it is not just a minority language or identity, but for those  to whom it represents a part of life and social philosophy.

Charles Videgen. Occitan adstrat in eastern dialects of the Basque language and their role in standard language

Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, UMR5478 IKER, Bayonne, Spain

In this study we understand under adstrate a language unit of the Basque language, which appeared as the result of the contacts between its eastern dialects and the Occitan language in its Bearn and Gascon varieties.

The information we use in this study is the result of the questionnaire, held in different basque-speaking communes. Moreover it is the result of the realized project “Linguistic atlas of the Basque language”, which was held by the Academy of the Basque language. The study isn’t aimed on full and exhaust coverage of the material. Using a limited number of examples it shows us possible ways of lexical changes, provoked by the influence of the codified variety of the Basque language (Batua) on the dialects. Analyzed lexical units were gathered during oral discussions in Bardos area and neighboring communes, which were traditionally populated by basque-speaking and Occitan-speaking people, and also by those, who speak Basque, Occitan and French.

The Academy of the Basque language turned out two editions with information on lexical units of the Basque language. It is “The Dictionary of the unified Basque language” (Hiztegi batua), which includes 35 000 lexical units, and recently published “Dictionary” (Hiztegia), which mostly repeats the vocabulary of the previous dictionary, but also has main meanings of the words with examples of their usage. In our research we are to compare the number of words, that are widespread in eastern dialects of Bardos, and their presence/absence in two academic dictionaries of the Basque language.

We will cite as an example a number of lexical units that are widespread in most part of the French Basque country. It is obvious that they are an Occitan adstrate. It can be confirmed if we compare the studied form with the information of the Occitan language Thesaurus, where there are different varieties of the lexical units, used in three communes of the Occitan language continuum (table 1).

Table 1
Variants of the lexemes used in three communes of Occitan language continuum

Français Occitan Basque (général)
Labastide Urt Saint-Martin-de-Hinx
osier vimi   vimi mihimen
chaise cadièra   cadira kadira
chardonneret cardinal   cardinal kardinale
coing codonh   codonh kuduin + irasagar
cruche pegar   pegar pegar
maladroit malestruc   malestruc malestruk
motte tarròc   tarròc tarrok + mokor
nèfle mespla   mespla mizpira
piquette vinat   vinat minata
stérile mana   mena mando
volaille poralha   poralha puraila

The whole set of these examples represents an interesting phenomenon, certain aspects of which will be subsequently covered in this paper. First of all it is necessary to study in details which adstrat units of Basque in Bardos region can be considered endemic, and which, on the contrary, are common for several or even for all dialects of French Basque Country, therefore we will refer to the data of “Linguistic Atlas of the Basque language”. It is clear that the wider the range of the adstrat unit use, the higher its chance to appear in the dictionaries of common Basque, but in these circumstances, they are not absolute.

Our findings on the eastern dialects of Basque language were collected on the basis of spoken language. Our informants answered 3000 questions on vocabulary, morphology and syntax of Basque language. We’ve also recorded more than ten hours of interview tapes, where along with Basque Gascon and French languages are also present, in order depending on the types of code switching. There are also metalinguistic comments, and etiological discourse. statements that contain negative attitude towards the language is widely presented in the material. Thus, the negative connotations are associated with the word “sharnègo”, which means “mixed” people, of Basque and Occitan origin.

As an example of Bardos endemic lexemes we can give the following words: taloz 'lombric' (earthworm), Occitane. talòs, along with the widespread word xixari (with the exception of Biscay dialect). Lepher 'lièvre (hare)' is an obvious borrowing which is used along with the common Basque erbi. Sometimes endemic units are phonetic variants of words, for example zuphu with metathesis, along with the coomon Basque putz 'puits', which itself is also a borrowing. Or oihen 'forêt forest', along with oihan, or mistika along with the general mertxika <PERSICAM, 'pêche (fishing)'. Or azerü along with the general azeri 'renard (fox)' (<ASINARIU *?). These forms are not included in the coomon Basque.

Here are some examples of adstrats and their place in a single Basque.

– Apeu 'appeau' or 'appelant'; “apèu”; X in the dictionary Palais (S.Palay) known to most native speakers of French Basque country, especially to those familiar with hunting, although, it’s a vanishing occupation. This word is mentioned a “Common Basque language dictionary” of the Academy of the Basque language, but miraculously it has disappeared from the second “Dictionary”. The explanation of this fact (but not an excuse) may be the following: the authors of the dictionary attach great importance to the presence of the words constituent a part of the body of modern written production in Basque. Considering the small number of texts in Basque in the French Basque Country, the word apeu did not reach the required threshold of usage to be mentioned in the academic vocabulary. Thereby we face the question whether verbal forms of Basque are presented enough, and maybe it is time to give them a place that they rightfully deserve.

– Naia: 'andain', occitan. nalh (Palay). As in the case of X, the word was included in the first dictionary, but disappeared from the dictionnary published in 2012. The word refers to the area of traditional peasant classes, little known today, and apparently that was enough to discredit it.

– Kaboza: 'chevesne', oksit. cabòs. Unknown word in codified version of Basque (Batwa). Perhaps because it is the name of a little-known fish, but maybe due to the low frequency of use in written texts. However, in the French Basque provinces there is no other word to describe this animal.

– Kolak: 'alose', oksit. colac. Unknown word in codified version Basque language (Batwa). However, we do not know another word for designation of this fish unless astun, which doesn’t exist in Basque.

– Seska: 'roseau', oksit. sesca. The word borrowed into Batwa.

Analysis of these samples helps us to determine the nature of the filters that do not “let in” a particular word into Common Basque language. These may be the word’s belonging to the lexical-semantic field considered obsolete or lack of sufficient number of usages in the written texts. There is, however, a more general question: what part does language assign to its peripheries at the stage of unification and codification, which are also areas of the oral existence of variants of the language.


Euskal Hizkeren Hizkuntz Atlasa [Atlas linguistique du Pays Basque]. Bilbao: Euskaltzaindia, 2008–2012, Vols. 1–4.

Hiztegi batua [Dictionnaire unifié]. Bilbao: Euskaltzaindia, 2010.

Hiztegia [Dictionnaire]. Bilbao: Euskaltzaindia, 2012.

Palay S. Dictionnaire du Béarnais et du Gascon modernes. Paris: CNRS, 1974.

Palay S. Dictionnaire du Béarnais et du Gascon modernes. Paris: CNRS, 1991.

Thesaurus Occitan.

Esichu Harinjordoki, Gordon Aurecoechea. The problem of the Basque language in the territory of the Northern Basque Country

The Universidad del País Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

According to the fourth and fifth survey, which were held during 2006 and 2011, language situation in the Basque Country shows that the number of bilingual population tends to diminish. In spite of such a tendency, their number increases between the young people aged from 16 to 24,87% of bilingual and 56% of mixed parents teach their children to speak Basque. One more factor – first language of 70% of country’s population is French.

Moreover, the researches show us that Basque language is mostly spoken among friends (14,5%) and family (11%), rarely in public places (8,3% in municipal government agencies and 3,5% in sphere of public health). The attitude to the Basque language is mostly positive, especially among the young. 19% of the population wants their children to get education in Basque language, 34% – in bilingual educational institutions.

The current Basque language situation in the Basque Country is also related to the problem of Navarre-labourd dialect of the region. The Navarre-labourd dialect, which borrows the words from the united and codified Basque language (batua), is the language of press, radio, television, school teaching and church. The Basque language (batua) – is the language of literature, songs and so-called bertso (improvised songs).

Concerning education sector – everything depends on the area, school and the version of the Basque language which is spoken by teachers and pupils. In Soulle, situated on the east of the Basque Country, people speak souletin, well known for its originality and specific usage. It is the Basque language which is mostly used on TV, in literature and in press. The souletin is the language of the radio, church and education.

According the preliminary information our research is to be based on approaches of perceptual dialectology. Choosing from the method of Grutaers (1959), Preston’s arrow method (1999) and method of Guskens (2012) etc. we well stop on the second one. Based on the results of the interrogations this method permits to establish difference and accordance in different dialects. Using Preston’s method the respondents were asked two questions: (a) “How do you think, in which neighboring towns and villages people speak the same way as in your place?”; (b) In which neighboring towns and villages people speak in absolutely different way?”. The answers on the first question will be marked on the map by arrows, going from the village to village. The areas, where there won’t be any arrow signalize that there are no any language link between them.

The interrogation observes next conditions: it should be limited by three localities, namely by one in each of three north provinces. In Labourd it will be Sar and its neighborhoods, in Lower Navarre – Saint-Etien-Begorry and its neighborhoods, in Soulle – Moleon and its neighborhoods. These three communes aren’t chosen by accident: on their territories there are great linguistic differences.

The respondents will be distributed according to next parameters:
– “еuskaldun zahar” – those whose native language is the Basque
– the other representatives of different dialects, who are to be selected according to classical sociolinguistic parameters: age (three groups: 18–30 years old, 31–60 years old and older), level of education (three levels), occupation (two levels), gender (two groups).

Each informant corresponds to the all parameters. In these three cases we will adapt the questionnaires according to the particularities of the survey. Depending on the situation we are to use specified procedures. Implementing the surveys in form of conversation we will register the respondents. Written inquirers will be distributed and filed by everyone who is interested I problem. The terms of the survey are: three months to get the information (December 2012 – February 2013), analysis and registration of the results (march – may 2013).


Coyos J.-B. Batua eta zuberera: euskalki baten dinamika. 2004.

Gooskens C. Non-linguists judments of linguistic distances between dialects. Dialectologia, 2012, No. 9, 27–51.

Gouvernement Basque. IVe enquête sociolinguistique.Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2006.

Gouvernement Basque. Ve enquête sociolinguistique. Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2011.

Preston D.R. Methods in the Study of Dialect Perceptions. In: A.R. Thomas (Ed.), Methods in dialectology. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference held at the University College of North Wales (3–7 August 1987). New York: Multilingual Matterns, 1988. pp. 373–395.

Preston D.R. (Ed.). Handbook of Perceptual Dialectology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999. Vol. 1.

Aurélie Arcocha-Scarcia. Writing on the boundary line: the Basque literature and its colors from the author’s experience

University of Bordeaux 3, UMR5478 IKER, Bordeaux, France

Unfolding the map

My life on a boundary line has influenced me very much as a writer. A border is a sort of a limit but at the same time it’s an opening space for plurality and polyphony. However, it’s better to precise the specific geographic, linguistic and political environment where I grew up[1] and where my literal preferences were conceived. I can say that my topographic experience, and by that I mean the unified Basque language, played the main role in forming me as a writer.

The border that I’m speaking about is a boundary line between the two states, France and Spain, as well as between two powerful languages with rich cultural and literal grounds (the French and Spanish languages) but at the same time it’s a linguistic border between the two dialects of the Basque language also called Euskara: the Lapurdian one spoken in the “North” or the French part and the Guipuzcoan one spoken in the “South” or the Spanish part. The situation becomes even more complex if we take into consideration the different statuses of the Basque language on the French and Spanish territories: in Spain the language is considered free-standing and co-official together with Castellan, while in France it’s regarded as a regional language in danger and has no official status. In fact after the end of the period of Francoist Spain (1975) this boundary territory became a demarcation line between a newly proclaimed Autonomous Community of Basque Country[2] Euskadi in 1978 and the “South”. Since claiming its independence the Autonomous Community has changed its linguistic policy, the grounds of a new one being created in 1960th by the Royal Academy of the Basque language (or Euskaltzaindia) that proclaimed the language co-official within the Community’s territory[3]. That was the beginning of the “normalization” of Euskara that was proceeded first of all via educational system, bilingual administration, mass media and of course via modern literature, and to be precise youth literature. It has become normal for the modern authors within the Community as well as beyond it (in the Foral Community of Navarre, the French border of the Atlantic Pyrenees, that is also called Ipparalde) to use for everyday writing the unified standard Basque language, also called “Batua” and that is not devoid of the linguistic colorations.

My language of writing fits in this reality, the linguistic and geographical components of which are specified by its boundary position and polyglot peculiarities that can be seen in the amalgamation of the three languages learnt in childhood (Euskara, French, Spanish) that represent the grounds of my literature and also English that through translation helps the Basque literature go over the Community’s territory and gain the whole world. The knowledge of these languages lets me use the literal expressions from Roman languages: Italian, Corsican, Occitan, Catalan etc.

Texts and voices in Euskara

The literal traditions of the region will be forged under the high influence of linguistic and geographical collisions, as this region is a boundary space of diverse languages and cultures. It’s a permanently changing region that can be never totally conceived. Another particularity of this region is that it comprises important boundary zones, such as international bridges (Hendaye, Béhobie), fluvial areas (the Bidassoa and Pheasant Island), an international railway station (Hendaye), a highway connecting the two states (Biriatou) and an Atlantic sea area known as the Bay of Biscay.

The Basque literary world is composed of local writers, editors and printers who are connected with each other by means of professional and friendly ties based on liberty and artistic approach. Sometimes a haphazard meeting in a car or in a literary club in the USA or somewhere in Europe is enough for close literary ties to begin. And a written book has something in common with the Grail, the unique piece of work created in 1545 that I once had the chance to contemplate walking across the labyrinths of the French National library during one of my stays in France.

If I make a sort of a fragmentary alphabetic list, and of course that will be a provisional one, it will comprise the following names: Rikardo Agirre, Miren Argur Meabe, Ur Apalategi, Gabriel Aresti, Bernardo Atxaga, Itxaro Borda, Andolin Eguskitza, Bernat Etxepare, Jean Etxepare, Juan Mari  Lekuona, Xabier Lete, Imanol Murua, Lourdes Oñederra, Joseba Sarrionaindia, Arantxa Urretabizkaia, Iban Zaldua, etc.

Multilingual voices

The ever changing polyphonic picture of the region is characterized by the amalgamation of new languages with the mother tongue that is the literary language. The territories and the languages mix and enlarge. Any author writing in Basque uses a “transparent” peripheral language which doesn’t exist in the French literary system, and that makes of such an author a “boundary” writer in every meaning of the word. This is why a Basque writer is ready for innovations. He follows modern literary and artistic tendencies but also goes further and keeps an eye on the works of peripheral writers from France (Occitan, Corse, Breton, Catalan and Creole authors), Spain (Catalan, Galician, Occitan and Aragon authors) and other places with whom he feels in harmony.

As for me I had also to go through the stage of rewriting and translation of my own works in French, my second language (Septentrio, Atelier du héron). The friendly and literary ties with writer Marie Cosnay, Belgic editor and poet Pascal Naud and author of the literary days of Dax Serge Airoldi played a great role in my life of an author. In the end, it’s inevitable that a peripheral writer enter a global universe that is dominated by the English language but where this dominance is more and more suppressed by the literature in other different languages.


Arkotxa A. Atari Ahantziak [Portiques oubliés]. Iruñea: Pamiela, 1993. (in French)

Arkotxa A. Fragmentuak [Fragments]. Irun: Utriusque Vasconiae, 2010. (in Basque)

Arkotxa A. Publication of the poetic commentaries in the Berria, daily news-paper in Basque. Since 2004.

Arkotxa A. Septentrio. Bruxelles: Atelier du héron, 2006. (in French)

Arkotxa A. Septentrio. Irun: Alberdania, 2001. (in Basque)

Arkotxa A. Septentrio. Tolaretxipi E., Fernandez A., Trans. Irun, Alberdania, 2007. (in Spanish)


[1] It’s necessary to precise that I was born in another region between France and Spain, that one which separates Lower Navarre (France) and Higher Navarre (Spain).

[2] Euskal Autonomia Elkargoa (EAE) – Comunidad Autónoma Vasca (CAV).

[3] It’s necessary to mention the Foral Community of Navarre that has different statuses for the Basque language in different regions. However the writers of this Community are integrated into the literal system of the Basque Cummunity. The same refers to the editors (Pamiela, Txalaparta).