Basque language defies globalisation and enjoys resurgence

Euskera speakers on the rise, although some see it as politically tainted

The Korrika race in Bayonne in southwest France is held annually to promote the Basque language Euskara. Alongside the Basque autonomous community, the northern Spanish region of Navarre and southern France also have substantial Basque-speaking populations. Photograph: Nicolas Mollo/AFP/Getty Images

The Korrika race in Bayonne in southwest France is held annually to promote the Basque language Euskara. Alongside the Basque autonomous community, the northern Spanish region of Navarre and southern France also have substantial Basque-speaking populations. Photograph: Nicolas Mollo/AFP/Getty Images

It’s break-time in Lauaxeta school and children of all ages are running, playing, jostling and chatting in its large grounds. This school, or ikastola, is a group of modern buildings set in the green, rolling hills east of Bilbao, near the Bay of Biscay.

Occasionally, students can be heard using the Spanish language but it is the very different sound of Euskera, the Basque tongue, which is more often used, with its hard consonants and multi-vowel combinations.

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