Euskera, our language

I have lived in London for a long time and more often than not people are surprised to hear that I am Basque at the question of “where are you from?” My accent is the combination of the languages I speak (English, Spanish and Basque) with my basic Japanese and my husband’s accent. As a result, more often than not, people are unsure of its providence.

People are even more surprised when they realise that English is my third language and that Basque (Euskera for us) is an actual pre indo-European language with unknown origins. (there is a fantastic page on Wikipedia where all your questions may be responded, link here)

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So this year, I have taken upon myself to share a few useful words with those of you out there who will be traveling to my homeland for that I know that it will be greatly appreciated by the locals the fact that you are making an effort. (I also know that British are keen to learn a few words of local languages before traveling to any particular place, so here is a win win situation)

Herria(Ehrria)
Homeland. (Euskal Herria, is the homeland of the Basque)

Goxo(gosho)
It means delicious, but when repeated twice (goxo-goxo) it means cozy. It is a great expression that evocates eating chestnuts by the wooden fire as well as enjoying the company of family and friends around a table.

Ametsa (amehtcha)
It means dream. We are a nation of dreamers (Japanese style… i.e. “we see” dreams and then work hard to make them happen)

Buru gogor(buhruh gogor)
Stubborn. Because we are rather determined people. Some see this as a negative, I think that our culture would never have survived the passage of time if we were not.

Bizi (BC, as though you are selling it)
It means alive. It is used in the context of being alive but also, regarding a place, it means lively.

Itsasoa (itchasoa)
It means sea. The livelihood of our families and our culture. The ever present friend that provides us with nourishment while reminding us of its power. Our city has relationship with the sea that is based on a mutual respect.

Mendiak (mehndiak)
Mountains. The ones that shape our landscape and make the geography such a fantastic challenge to keen cyclists. The natural border that kept our culture protected from any invasions that took over the rest of the country throughout history .

Xirimiri (shirimiri)
Drizzle. Salty like the sea, it is the way that nature ensures our landscapes are green and healthy and our ecosystem retains its makeup.

Kaixo (Kaisho)
It means Hi! and it is a great way to start a conversation. (Basque have a reputation for being reserved and even unfriendly when compared to people from other regions of Spain, but this is a myth)

I promise to bring some more words to you in the near future and to share more insights in the process.

Photo by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Text by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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