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Anthology of Apologists and Detractors of the Basque Language
AuthorOrbea, Juan M.
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From the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries the Basque territories, endowed with a strong cultural personality and a peculiar juridical-institutional system that conferred on them a notoriously distinct identity, had to keep switching horses in mid-stream between France and Spain. Throughout those years, the Fueros and language of the Basques were perceived from outside as an anomaly and an obstacle; a number of Spanish and French authors made it their business to point out the barbarity and lack of literary development of the Basque language, an incomprehensible jargon fit only for oral ballads, as well as the excessive disjuncture which the foral system provoked in the juridical, economic and fiscal relations of the two monarchies. On the other hand, the Basque apologists sought to legitimize the institutions through the creation of a construct, more or less mythical in essence, which with great frequency relied on the excellence of the Basque language for its justification. Its Tubaline and even paradisiacal origin, its antiquity, perfection, clarity and expressive capacity, they argued, placed it among the seventy-two matrix languages created after the dispersion of Babel. This anthology attempts to present the most important works of this secular polemic in which politics and language go hand in hand and in which the diatribes and insults of authors such as Mariana, Mayans and Fernández Marina collide with the passionate defensive treatises of writers such as Garibay, Larramendi and Iztueta.