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New Basque speakers: linguistic identity and legitimacy


Ane Ortega ,

Escuela Universitaria de Magisterio «Begoñako Andra Mari»
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Estibaliz Amorrortu,

Universidad de Deusto
About Estibaliz

Profesora titular del Departamento de Lenguas Modernas y Estudios Vascos de la Universidad de Deusto

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Jone Goirigolzarri,

Universidad de Deusto
About Jone

Profesora colaboradora del Departamento de Trabajo Social y Sociología de la Universidad de Deusto

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Jacqueline Urla,

Universidad de Massachusetts
About Jacqueline

Catedrática en el Departamento de Antropología de la Universidad de Massachusetts-Amherst  

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Belen Uranga

Clúster de Sociolingüística
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The number of Basque speakers has grown considerably in the last 40 years, due largely to the rising number of new speakers, or euskaldunberris, defined here as those people who have learned the language through any means other than family transmission. Although new Basque speakers constitute a strategic group for the future development of the language, until now no detailed study of this collective had been attempted.

In this article we present the results of research into the perceived linguistic identities of new Basque speakers, exploring the participants’ reasons for assigning themselves to one of three principal categories: euskaldun zaharra (native speaker), euskaldunberri (new speaker) and euskaldun (Basque speaker). It is argued that these categories reflect identities that can be situated in a continuum of authenticity that, in turn, correlates with the speakers’ self-perception as legitimate speakers of Basque.

How to Cite: Ortega, A., Amorrortu, E., Goirigolzarri, J., Urla, J. and Uranga, B., 2014. New Basque speakers: linguistic identity and legitimacy. Digithum, (16), pp.6–17. DOI:
Published on 01 May 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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