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The standardization of the Basque language

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The standardization process of the Basque language presents some unusual characteristics. Although some of the first authors to publish in Basque in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries explicitly remarked on the difficulties brought about by dialectal diversity, very little progress in the standardization of the language was made until the second half of the twentieth century. Even the impact of the rise of Basque nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century was not entirely positive, since the founder of the Basque Nationalist Party favored the development of a different written variety for each of the Basque provinces. The extreme puristic and neologizing tendency of some writers at the time was also a source of obstacles on the path towards standardization. A Basque language academy was founded in 1918 with the unification of the written language as one of its main goals, but it made essentially no progress until the linguist Luis Michelena (Mitxelena) presented a report to the Basque Academy in 1968 on the bases for a written standard language. From then on, other stages in the standardization process have taken place very rapidly. This new standard has enjoyed enormous success and in a few decades has become firmly established in Basque society.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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