Authenticity and linguistic variety among new speakers of Basque

Urla, Jacqueline
Amorrortu, Estibaliz
Ortega, Ane
Goirigolzarri, Jone
Uranga, Belen
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University of Hawai'i Press
This paper argues that the type of variety learned and used by Basque language learners is a key element in their self-perception as “true” or authentic speakers of Basque. Drawing on focus groups and individual interviews, we find that new speakers are for the most part strongly oriented towards the value of authenticity epitomized by local varieties. While new speakers report the utility of their mastery over the new standard Basque variety, they are not inclined to view this mastery as granting themselves greater authority or ownership over Basque. Rather they strongly valorize the informal and vernacular speech forms indexing colloquial speech and local dialect most identified with native speakers. The new speaker’s sociolinguistic context and motivations for learning Basque seem to be predictive of the strength of this orientation. The findings of this study point to the necessity of further study and documentation of local vernacular as well the urgency for language educators to find ways of incorporating the acquisition of local and dialectal features into language instruction.
Urla, Jacqueline, Estibaliz Amorrortu, Ane Ortega, Jone Goirigolzarri, and Belen Uranga. 2016. Authenticity and linguistic variety among new speakers of Basque. In Vera Ferreira and Peter Bouda (eds.). Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe. 1-12. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
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