Donostia es la hostia* (Languages and peoples; Basques, Spain and Europe)

The ikurrina flag

Just back from a wonderful few days up in Euskadi, the Basque country, up in the north of Spain. The few days we were there coincided with the snap elections which were held on the 1 year anniversary of the full cease fire of the basque independence terrorist group ETA. We were there for a wedding. Heres a few things of interest about that wonderful place

* Donostia es la hostia = San Sebastian is amazing (Donostia is the Basque name for San Sabastian, “es la hostia” directly translates as “Its the host of Christ”)
Linguistic map of Spain

** Politics

After the elections, an article from El Pais (english): PNV takes first ETA-free elections

Also celebrating on Sunday night were the radicals of EH Bildu, a broad coalition of separatist parties and members of the former Batasuna, ETA’s outlawed political wing. The group picked up 21 seats, making it the second-largest force in Basque politics… Although the PNV celebrated its 27-seat victory, it is also keenly aware that results were slightly worse than in 2009, when it won 30 seats (it was the joint 38 seats of the PP-Socialist partnership that prevented it from gaining power). This means that some of their voters have instead turned to EH Bildu, which is now its main competitor.

Related LInks: Pro-independence parties win Basque country elections in Spain (Guardian) | Mixed result for ruling party in Spain’s poll (Al Jazeera) | El nacionalismo arrasa en el País Vasco (vanguardia)Eta, violence and peace: Adams and Ahern in Spain for talks on Basque separatism (Journal, Ireland, Monday 17 October, 2011) | Eta may have been defeated militarily, but Basque independence has not (Guardian) Eta: a short history – timeline

** Spain

The languages of Spain – interactive (Guardian)

Linguistically, Spain is a VERY interesting country. It has 9 official languages, but there is debate whether Catalan should be divided even further into Valencian and MallorcianAn EU survey in 2005 found that 11% of Spaniards – five million people – define their mother tongue as one of Spain’s regional languages, with 9% speaking Catalan or Valencian, 5% speaking Galician and 1% Euskara.Most residents in north-west Galicia, north-east Catalonia, the Balearic islands and eastern Valencia can understand or speak their regional language, even those who, as individuals, use Castilian Spanish as their first language in everyday use. Between them they make up a third of Spain – about 16 million people.
Euskara, although taught intensively at schools in the northern Basque country, is more difficult to understand because it is not a Romance language. Experts believe it is the last remaining pre-Indo-European language in Europe, possibly related to Aquitanian.
Read full article at: Lost in translation? Jan 2011

File:Euskal Herria Europa.png

Location of the Basque Country


Percentage of students registered in Basque language schools (2000-2005). Source: Basque Country (greater region)

** Europe

Map found at Minority Nations

Eurominority is dedicated to all of the Stateless Nations and minority peoples of Europe. Of course, the reason I found the site in the first place was my interest and connection to the Basque people, who turn out to be one of many minority peoples throughout Europe. If you are like me, you tend to think of the countries of Europe as pretty homogenous. For example, I used to think of Spain as flamenco dancers and bull fighters. However, Spain has at least three minority regions — the Basques, the Catalans, and the Gallegos — and even more depending on how you look at it. And Spain is by no means unique; most countries in Europe have several minority groups with their own languages. Eurominority documents those nations and regions. Most interesting to me were the maps they have of Europe broken down into stateless nations and regions. Spain, for example, in one map is comprised of Gallicia, Cantabria, Asturias, the Basque Country, Catalunia, Aragon, Castilla, Valencia, and Andalucia. Very interesting perspective on Europe. The image here is a map of the languages of Europe.

Map of Stateless Nations in Europe

** Videos about the Basque country

Inside Story – ETA’s struggle for a homeland (Al Jazeera, January 12, 2010)


Unrecognized nations: Basque country (Russia Today, 11 Nov 2009)

The Basque country is an autonomous community and historic region of northern Spain. It was established by the statute of autonomy of 1979. Its government consists of a president and a parliament, with a capital in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Learn more about the people, their traditions, political views and a language with no relationship to any other European language with RT correspondent Aleksandr Luchaninov, only on Russia Today.

Redes – Basque: The oldest living language in Europe (english subs)

The history of the European languages in 2 minutes.
You can watch the whole documental on this link:
Redes – Los Orígenes De Las Especies ( english subtitles ).

Documentary about the origins of the European languages, and about the origin of the oldest living (spoken) language in Europe: Euskera.
Looks like all actual European languages are the evolution of a common language that came into Europe 8 thousand years ago, called the Indo-European language. But there is one language in Europe, which does not belong to that common language called Indo-European language, and looks like the evolution of some language that was spoken in Europe 20 thousand years ago: The name of this oldest spoken European language is Euskera. But this language has not it´s own country; surprising …

So, are Basque people a country or not? They have not precisely a short history …

The mystery of the Basques (Guardian, 21 Feb 2011)


Euskal Herria La Mirada Magica – Donostia San Sebastian

(here on TVEU, in Spanish)

** Goodbye Spain???

Who knows what todays country of Spain will look like in 20 years, it might be the same, or it might be as is without the 2 “nations” within the state of Spain today. At present there is huge talk in Catalunya of taking steps to secede from Spain. Here is a recent Al Jazeera report about these goings on:

Farewell Spain? Will austerity drive Catalonia to independence?

2 Responses to Donostia es la hostia* (Languages and peoples; Basques, Spain and Europe)

  1. fuspey says:

    Operación Ogro (1979 film)

    As 1973 winds down, Franco is still governing Spain with an iron hand. Opposition parties are forbidden; labor movements are repressed; and Basque nationalists are mercilessly hunted down. The caudillo is aging, though, and the continuity of the régime is in question. One man has the trust of Franco, enough authority and experience to assume the leadership, and an impeccable track record as to dealing with enemies of the State: admiral Carrero Blanco. For the embattled clandestine Basque organization ETA, Carrero Blanco must be brought down. Daring plans are made, requiring a meticulous execution…



    TV 2 part series (2011)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: