Cultural Insecurity, Social Change and Territorial Institutionalization: the Case of French Basque Country
Catégorie : Chapitre d'ouvrage
Auteur(s) : Xabier Itçaina
Éditeur : Peter Lang
Année de publication : 2021
In the name of a certain Republican ethos, France has been reluctant to grant any official recognition and protection to minority and regional languages. However, this lack of institutional support from above has been partly compensated for by some local institutional arrangements, which created new conditions for a certain recognition of regional languages. The French Basque Country illustrates this paradoxical situation well. Since the early 1990s, new institutions were set up at the territorial level for the Basque language and culture. In 2005, the process of institutionalization took a step forward with the distinction between cultural and linguistic policy and the foundation of the Public Office for the Basque Language. This change was the result of compromises between the state, local elected officials and the language movement. A key factor was the cross-border influence of the Spanish Basque language policy model that was used repeatedly by French Basque language activists in their negotiation with the state and local policy-makers. This emerging language policy had some measurable effects on language revitalization, with a slight increase in language proficiency among the youngest generations after 2006. This chapter focusses on the political and normative debate raised around the social use of the Basque language in France. Special attention is paid to the use of Euskera in the economy, and to articulating the debate between the linguistic controversy and competing local development models.
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