Basque in Navarre
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http://www.uoc.es/euromosaic/web/document/basc/an/i2/i2.html
Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana
Version française
Basque in Navarre
  1. Introduction
  2. The language in the country
    1. General information on the language community
    2. Geographical and language background
    3. General history and history of the language
    4. Legal status and official policies
  3. The use of the language in various fields
    1. Education
    2. Judicial Authorities
    3. Public Authorities and services
    4. Mass media and Information technology
    5. The Arts
    6. The business world
    7. Family and social use of the language
    8. Transnational exchanges
  4. Conclusion


1. Introduction

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2. The language in the country

2.1. General information on the language community

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2.2. Geographical and language background

Navarre is a sparsely populated region (50 inhabitants per km) compared with the rest of Spain, although there was considerable demographic growth in the sixties in the wake of industrial development. The economic dynamism of the region had three consequences: (a) a very considerable exodus from rural areas to the capital, (b) a major concentration of population in Pamplona (Iruñea), where almost 37% of the population of Navarre now live, and (c) significant growth in the service sector, in which 47% of the active population were employed in 1991.

In defining the sociolinguistic characteristics of the region, we have to distinguish between three linguistic areas defined by the relevant legislation, the Ley Foral del Euskera of 1986:

a. First there is the Basque-speaking area, where the Basque language enjoys official status alongside Castilian Spanish, comprises 61 small communes, each with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, which account for 11% of the total population of Navarre. In linguistic terms, almost half of Navarre's Basque- speaking population lives in this area and constitutes 61% of its population.

b. The mixed area covers the urban industrial centres and the capital, Iruñea/Pamplona. Almost 54% of the Navarrian population live in this area. The legal position here is that Basque may be taught at all levels of education except university. As for knowledge of Basque, only 14% of the population are euskaldun , although 47% have some degree of competence in the language. Given that Spanish was the first childhood language of 93% of the population of this area, these statistics regarding knowledge of Basque indicate considerable progress in relation to the past.

c. The non-Basque-speaking area has experienced rapid demographic decline since the start of the nineties; 36% of the Navarrian population now live there, compared with almost 50% in 1990. Only 2·7% of the population are euskaldun, but each individual has a legal right to learn Basque at any educational level except university.

In general, it seems that the process of decline in the use of Basque has been curbed and that the language is experiencing a slight revival (5,803 more people had some command of the language in 1991 than in 1986) following the introduction of Basque into the school system. This recovery is most noticeable in the mixed area.

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2.3. General history and history of the language

Navarre, which was already a kingdom in its own right in the ninth century, preserved its autonomy throughout the next seven centuries, thanks to the deep social roots established by its native institutions. In 1512 Navarre lost its independence when it was annexed to the Castilian crown. Nevertheless, it retained much of its own identity and had its own code of laws, the Fueros de Navarra (privileges) of 1841, similar to those existing in the Basque Country. These privileges endowed it with a certain degree of administrative autonomy and its own system of civil law, which enabled it to preserve the historical identity it had forged during the entire Middle Ages

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2.4. Legal status and official policies

The Law on the Reintegration and Improvement of the Special Regime for Navarre (LORAFNA), statute No 13/1982, the equivalent of the autonomy statutes of the other autonomous communities, established Spanish as the official language of the whole territory of Navarre, with Basque being granted the same official status as Spanish in the Basque-speaking area.

The Ley Foral del Euskera, statute No 18/86, governs the normal and official use of Basque in the realm of social interaction and in the education system. One of the articles of that law divides Navarre into three linguistic areas, each having its own official linguistic status and rights.

a. In the Basque-speaking area, Basque and Spanish enjoy equal official status. Article 15.2 of the Ley Foral del Euskera lays down that each administration, within the scope of its powers, shall specify the posts which require knowledge of the Basque language and the posts for which a command of Basque is to be regarded as an advantage in the selection process. As far as education is concerned, citizens may opt for either of the two official languages as their learning medium. The schools in this area cater for 11% of the Navarrian school population.

b. In the mixed area, Basque is recognized as part of the cultural heritage of Navarre. The public may address themselves in Basque to public administrative bodies. The teaching of basque is optional, and 55% of the school population of Navarre live in this area.

c. In the non-Basque-speaking area, the situation is similar to that in the mixed area. The teaching of Basque is promoted and partly or entirely financed by the public authorities in accordance with the criteria for promoting and developing the language in line with existing demand. This area is home to 33% of all school pupils in Navarre.

The Ley Foral del Euskera, or Basque Statute, lays down that the Academy of the Basque Language shall be the consultative institution for all matters relating to linguistic standards. Statutory Decree 159/89 further develops the framework law and establishes four linguistic models through which Basque can be given its place in the education system. Lastly, in 1990 the autonomous Government of Navarre assumed full powers in the area of education.

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3. The use of the language in various fields

3.1. Education

The legal framework governing the teaching of the Basque language derives from the abovementioned Statutory Decree 159/89, which establishes three linguistic models: model A (Spanish as the language of instruction and Basque as a subject of study) provides for the possibility of being taught one or two subjects in Basque at primary and secondary levels and one at tertiary level; model B provides for teaching to be conducted in Basque and for Spanish to be taught as a subject and used as a teaching medium in one subject at nursery and primary school and in one or two subjects at secondary and tertiary levels; model D offers Basque as the teaching medium and Castilian (Spanish) as a subject; under model G, Spanish is the sole language of instruction. Models A, B and D are available in the Basque-speaking area, models A, B, D and G in the mixed area and models A and G in the non-Basque-speaking area.

Apart from these linguistic models, some schools have been offering courses in Basque since 1965, in other words since before the present legislative system was adopted. These are the ikastolas, schools which derived from popular initiatives and run by pupils' parents on a cooperative basis. Presently, both the municipal ikastolas and the bilingual public schools depend on the autonomous Government of Navarre.

With regard to the percentages of pupils receiving their education under the various models outlined above, the situation is as follows: 23% of children at nursery school and 16% of primary pupils are taught most of the curriculum in Basque, while 14% of the preschool children and 10% of the primary-school population are taught the Basque language. The number of children educated in accordance with models A and D is increasing throughout the territory. This development varies according to linguistic area, so that in the Basque-speaking area the vast majority of nursery-school children (79%) are taught in Basque, whereas in the mixed area models A and D apply to 23·5% of children undergoing preschool education. In the non-Basque-speaking area, however, only 5% of nursery children are taught in Basque. Almost all children who are taught in accordance with a specific model at nursery school continue with the same model, which results in a gradual increase in the demand for teaching in Basque at primary and secondary schools.

As far as secondary schools are concerned, around 10% of pupils are taught most subjects in Basque and almost 4% take Basque courses. Recent developments confirm a steady increase in the amount of Basque taught and spoken in secondary classrooms, although the number of pupils involved is still very modest. The percentage of pupils learning Basque at secondary level is lower than at the other levels of education because pupils did not begin to follow the curricula that include Basque lessons until the early nineties, which means that most of these pupils will not yet have started secondary school.

As for technical education, Basque is the main teaching language in only a few colleges, attended by 4% of all technical-college students, which stems from the fact that a minimum of 25 requests are needed before colleges can offer curricular models with compulsory or optional classes in Basque.

The only studies currently undertaken in Basque at tertiary level are those relating to teacher training (covering all specializations from nursery to university), whereas lessons in Basque as a modern language are voluntary and unofficial. The percentage of students learning Basque is insignificant (barely 1%), despite a certain degree of interest among students and some social organizations.

Adult classes in Basque are not part of the Lifelong Adult Education Programme but are available in the informal sector. From 1960 onwards the Euskaltegis were set up outside the formal education system with the aim of promoting literacy in Basque and command of the language among adults. The centres presently have almost 5,000 learners. There are also official Basque adult education centres and in-service training centres for teachers and civil servants, which are operated by the Basque Division of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the autonomous Government of Navarre.

The Government of Navarre has established two monitoring bodies in the educational domain: the Commission on Bilingualism, whose remit is to plan the introduction of new linguistic models, and the Basque Division, which is to evaluate the results of the linguistic models, promote teaching of and in Basque, conduct linguistic research studies and update statistics on the use of Basque in teaching.

Lastly, there are numerous associations of committed linguists who are helping to promote a policy of seeking consensus on the development and linguistic standardization of Basque in education and in everyday life (Euskal Herrian Euskaraz, Oinarriak, the Ikastolas Federation and Sortzen).

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3.2. Judicial authorities

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3.3. Public authorities and services

Spanish is the only language used by the national administration and the judiciary. There is no statutory instrument yet in Navarre laying down rules for the use of Basque within the regional and local administrative machinery, with the exception of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Government of Navarre, which drafted the abovementioned Basque Statute.

In the Basque-speaking area, 38% of the transactions of local administrative authorities are conducted in Basque, while in the regional administration as a whole 27% of the staff have some knowledge of Euskera. Interest in achieving mastery of Basque also seems to have been increasing in recent years (around 43% consider that it ought to be a prerequisite of appointment to the regional civil service.

As far as services to the public are concerned, these are normally run on a bilingual basis, although they almost exclusively use Spanish in the non-Basque-speaking area. Contacts with public and semipublic bodies are almost always conducted in Spanish. As far as place names and road signs are concerned, the situation is still very confused (bilingualism or Basque/ Spanish monolingualism, depending on the area).

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3.4. Mass media and information technology

Since 1990, the Basque-language mass media have received official aid through an annual package of subsidies granted by the autonomous Government of Navarre, although the development of these media is still at an embryonic stage. In linguistic terms, there are still adaptation and comprehension problems with the Basque language used by the audiovisual media.

As far as the daily press is concerned, only one daily newspaper - Egunkaria, with a circulation of 3,000 - is printed entirely in Basque. Two weekly publications are written entirely in Basque, each with a circulation of 600 copies, and a considerable number of local weekly and monthly publications.

With regard to radio broadcasts, the only public station in Basque that can be received in Navarre is based in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. Another five stations form the bilingual private broadcasting network, while one private station, Xorroxin Irrati, broadcasts entirely in Basque, albeit to a very limited audience.

All the national television channels transmit exclusively in Spanish. The programmes, entirely in Basque, transmitted by the first channel of Euskal Telebista (ETB), the television service of the Basque Country, can be received in Navarre (the second ETB channel transmits in Spanish). The regional network of TVE (Televisión Española) has transmitted a weekly schedule of Basque programmes since 1992.

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3.5. The Arts

There are practically no cultural bodies or record companies that produce works in Basque, despite the considerable efforts undertaken by the Government of Navarre by means of economic aid and other subsidies.

In the world of the theatre, there are seven very active and popular semiprofessional companies. Theatre companies receive grants from the Institución Principe de Viana and from the Basque Division of the Directorate-General for Education. On the other hand, there is no cinema industry producing Basque films. One of the longest-established festivals is the Bertsolaritza, a poetry recitation contest that is very popular throughout the entire Basque- speaking territories.

The regional government has developed all sorts of activity in the cultural domain: translations, linguistic assistance, the organization of Basque awareness and promotion campaigns. In addition, the Institución Principe de Viana organizes annual support programmes to promote the use of Basque in artistic and cultural activities and is trying to extend the library network in Navarre.

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3.6. The business world

Knowledge of Euskera gives an advantage to candidates for numerous jobs in the Basque- speaking part of Navarre, although command of the language is only a prerequisite of appointment to certain civil service posts and for teaching posts in bilingual schools.

An advertising market in Basque is provided by the television service Euskal Telebista, which is a vast improvement on the situation that used to prevail.

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3.7. Family and social use of the language

The oral tradition of the Basque language has played a very important role in the history of Navarre, but it is currently in steep decline (with the exception of the Basque-speaking area), and it seems that the only way of preserving it is to pursue a very active policy of upgrading the status of the language through education. In addition, the use of the Basque language in Navarre has strong political connotations, with speakers being regarded as sympathizing with radical Basque nationalism. Besides, it is clear that the great religious piety of the Basque- speakers has given the Church a very important historical role in the defence of the Basque language.

It thus emerges that Euskera is not developing as dynamically as one might hope, given that many Navarrians have serious doubts about the future of their language; none the less, there is a discernible renewal of interest among young people and a considerable increase in knowledge of Basque. The development of the educational models for Basque learning might just help to reinforce these trends in the future.

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3.8. Transnational exchanges

Cross-border cooperation programmes have been set up by private bodies on both sides of the Pyrenees (Hegoalde in Spain and Iparralde in France since 1990, the Basque-language mass media have received official aid through an annual package of subsidies granted by the autonomous Government of Navarre, although the development of these media is still at an embryonic stage. In linguistic terms, there are still adaptation and comprehension problems with the Basque language used by the audiovisual media.

As far as the daily press is concerned, only one daily newspaper - Egunkaria, with a circulation of 3,000 - is printed entirely in Basque. Two weekly publications are written entirely in Basque, each with a circulation of 600 copies, and a considerable number of local weekly and monthly publications.

With regard to radio broadcasts, the only public station in Basque that can be received in Navarre is based in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. Another five stations form the bilingual private broadcasting network, while one private station, Xorroxin Irrati, broadcasts entirely in Basque, albeit to a very limited audience.

All the national television channels transmit exclusively in Spanish. The programmes, entirely in Basque, transmitted by the first channel of Euskal Telebista (ETB), the television service of the Basque Country, can be received in Navarre (the second ETB channel transmits in Spanish). The regional network of TVE (Televisión Española) has transmitted a weekly schedule of Basque programmes since 1992.

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4. Conclusion

The most recent data on knowledge of Basque reveal a pronounced imbalance between linguistic areas of Navarre, which means that each area needs a different type of linguistic standardization policy. Most Navarrians (83%), in fact, possess no knowledge of Basque at all; this figure rises to 86% in the mixed area and 97% in the non-Basque-speaking area, whereas the Basque-speaking area, where the percentage of euskalduns is 61%, only contains 11% of the Navarrian population.

In general, and despite the linguistic standardization efforts made by the regional and local authorities - which have resulted in regulations governing the use of Basque that were previously lacking and the introduction of the various linguistic models into the education system - future prospects for the Basque language are far from rosy, given the very special sociolinguistic situation in Navarre and the various political interests of the parties who advocate or oppose the extension of the Basque language within Navarrian society.

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