Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez

New speakers of Basque: a Basque-Spanish contact approach

De Gruyter Mouton | 2020
Eintragstyp Entry Type
Research Article
Eintragssprache Entry Language
Schlagwort Keyword
bilingualism; Spanish; language contact; new speakers; differential object marking
Basque Country (Euskal Herria); Basque Autonomous Community (Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa, Euskadi); BAC (EAE)
Language Covered in Article
Basque (Euskara, Euskera)
ISO 639-3-Code

Illustrative Map

                        Basque Country
                                 Nordwestern (based on works by maix and Tintazul), Blank map of Europe (without disputed regions);
                                    additional details, captions, highlights added and map extended
                                    to the north by LME, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Basque Country[1]

1. Introduction

The strong revitalization efforts of the Basque language along with the implementation of a standardized variety (Euskara Batua [Unified Basque]) in the public education system of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain have given rise to a new Basque-speaking population known as euskaldunberriak or ‘new speakers of Basque’. The recently established paradigm of new speakers defines this group of speakers as individuals who acquire the minoritized language by means other than family transmission (O’Rourke et al. 2015). In this respect, new speakers are at least bilinguals with a majority language and show a wide range of sociolinguistic competences, polyglossic practices and experiences (Smith-Christmas et al. 2018; Lantto 2018). Despite such heterogeneity, a common finding about new speakers in the European context is that their linguistic practices tend to be considered “illegitimate” or “inauthentic” (Hornsby 2015; Ó Murchadha 2013; O’Rourke & Ramallo 2013, 2015; Sallabank & Marquis 2018) and the Basque case is no exception (Ortega et al. 2014, 2015; Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016; Urla et al. 2018; Lantto 2018).

Despite recent theorizations on new speakers in the European context, and our understanding on the illegitimization processes of new Basque speakers, there is a dearth of research focusing on their linguistic systems and an understanding as to how the social meaning behind their use of perceived contact-phenomena contributes to their authentication (or lack thereof) processes as members of the Basque-speaking community. It goes without saying that in language contact situations, cross-linguistic influence is inevitable. Language revitalization efforts, which are mainly found in situations of language contact, are often driven by standardization processes that cannot be divorced from political, cultural or identity acts (Grenoble & Whaley 2006; Armstrong & Mackenzie 2013). The cross-linguistic influence, or the perceived contact influence that arises in situations of language revitalization are consequently imbued with social significance, and often times, and connected to new queries of “being”.

A contact-linguistics approach to the study of new speakers can be fruitful in that it allows us to theorize about the various contact mechanisms that different bilinguals employ in their linguistic repertoires as well as the way these contact features gain social evaluation. In the present study, I draw on my previous work (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020) by examining the use of three morphosyntactic phenomena of Basque that have either been attributed to contact (i.e., Differential Object Marking), or are “L2-difficult” (ergative-case marking) or have shown some sort of bilingualism effects (Subject Pronoun Expression) among new speakers that differ in their sociolinguistic proficiencies of Basque. Our second goal is to explore the linguistic attitudes behind these morphosyntactic features as a way to understand how they contribute to their “authentic” Basque identity and the use of Basque in general.

After we provide a brief account on new speakers (Section 2), along with the methodologies (Section 3), we show evidence that the variable use of the three morphosyntactic features are not unique to new speakers but the underlaying mechanisms behind their use are sociolinguistically constrained (Section 4). Additionally, we provide evidence that some of these contact-features are highly stigmatized in Batua (Standard Basque), and negatively contribute their identity as “authentic” members of a Basque society, which, consequently, may provide a new perspective on why the use of Basque remains low among these speakers (Sections 5 & 6).

2. The emergence of “new” Basque speakers

The use of Basque language has been historically restricted to rural areas and linked to the peasant life. Up until the death of Franco in 1975, it was estimated that the use of Basque barely reached 25% of its population. Today, 53% of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain report to know some Basque (of which 19.1% claim to be a passive bilingual)[2]. The increase of Basque speakers in BAC is much larger if we take into account different age groups: in 1991, it was reported that 25% of the population between 16 and 25 years of age were Basque speakers, as compared to 71.4% today (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2016). In Navarre, the overall number of Basque speakers has experienced a smaller increase, from 11.5% to 12.9% (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2016) whereas in Iparralde (French Basque Country), the last Sociolinguistic Map conducted in the area reported that 22% of the population can speak Basque despite the fact these numbers are declining slowly (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2012). The importance of examining the linguistic practices of the new speakers in all these areas is undeniable. However, for space reasons, the present study solely focuses on the new speakers of Basque in BAC where the number of new speakers of Basque outnumbers native speakers.

The greater gains of bilingual speakers obtained in the Basque Autonomous Community of Spain are primarily due to the strong revitalization efforts conducted by the Basque Government in the early 80s. After having been recognized as one of the official languages (along with Spanish) of the BAC in 1979, the

Act of Normalization of the Basque Language (Law 10/1982) was passed in 1982, which allowed Basque to be expanded to the public sphere. Standard Basque (Batua) started to be used as a language of instruction in the public system of the BAC and played a key role in the transmission of Basque for those who didn’t have literacy in Basque or did not have any knowledge of it. Among the models, the Basque immersion program (Model D) experienced the greatest enrollment rates: for the 83–84 academic year, it was estimated that 14% of schooled children were enrolled in the immersion program whereas almost 80% of the children were schooled in such programs in the last academic year (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2016).

The significant increase in the numbers of bilinguals in BAC also brought new changes into the bilingual profiles of the Basque-speaking population. Before the standardization and the implementation of bilingual programs in the BAC, Basque was mainly transmitted at home, and spoken natively in a large portion of rural areas. These speakers would acquire a local variety. After the standardization, the presence of Basque began to increase in urban areas, where a newer population of second language speakers would emerge, popularly known as euskaldunberriak [new Basques], who acquired Basque in its Standard form. As shown in Figure 1, the number of euskaldunberriak has grown exponentially, outnumbering, in some cases, those that are considered native speakers, popularly known as euskaldunzaharrak [old Basques]. It is important to note that new Basque speakers constitute 36.6% of the entire Basque-speaking population, of which 53.9 % are between the ages of 16 and 24[3].

                           Fig. 1: Types of Basque speakers in BAC
                            according to age group in 1991 and 2016 (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2016)

Fig. 1: Types of Basque speakers in BAC according to age group in 1991 and 2016 (Eusko Jaurlaritza 2016)

The dichotomy between euskaldunzaharrak and euskaldunberriak emerged early on in the language revitalization project and became naturalized (Urla 1993, 2012) as a way to distinguish between those who learned the language at home (or speak a regional dialect) and those who do not learn it from their parents, respectively. Previous work has shown that the legitimacy and authenticity of these speakers has been linked to the attitudes towards the variety they speak: whereas euskaldunzaharrak are viewed as “real” speakers of the language for speaking a regional variety, euskaldunberriak are regarded as “less authentic”, partly because, Batua has been enregistered as a non-legitimate variety of Basque or renders, in the eyes of many speakers “artificial“, “plastic”, and “textbook-like” (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2013, 2016; Ortega et al. 2014; Urla et al. 2018). Another important category of self-identification is euskaldun [Basque speaker] which, according to recent work by Ortega and colleagues (2014, 2015), is used by certain Basque speakers to situate themselves in an intermediate stage within a continuum of a legitimate linguistic identity.

Another important fact in the current sociolinguistic sphere of the Basque Country is that, with the probable exception of few speakers, Basque monolingualism no longer exists. In this respect, every speaker of Basque, is at least bilingual with a nation-state language (Spanish or French) or multilingual. As such, one may say that every Basque speaker is somehow polyglossic (Lantto 2018), that is, they have a number of linguistic resources or speech styles available to them many of which, may be induced by contact. It is this polyglossic nature of Basque speakerhood that calls for an examination of Basques’ linguistic repertoire from a contact linguistics perspective.

Before we advent to summarize some of the current literature on the “new” population of euskaldunberriak, a cautionary note on the use of this term is in order. Following Ortega et al. (2015), the present study will not be using euskaldunberriak, and will instead use new speaker to refer to speakers who have acquired Basque by means other than family transmission (Urla et al. 2016: 3). An important problem with the term euskaldunberriak is that it is popularly attached to a speech community that it is, by no means, a homogenous one. In order to gauge a better understanding on the variable use of contact features of new speakers, we will differentiate at least three bilingual groups that takes into account age of acquisition, proficiency and language use. As will be shown, different bilinguals employ different mechanisms in what may superficially look like the same contact-phenomena.

2.1 Previous research on new speakers of Basque

Much of the work examining the use of Basque among new speakers comes from child language acquisition (Ezeizabarrena 2011, 2013; Iraola et al. 2014; Iraola 2015), showing that cross-linguistic influence can be noticed in early child bilingual acquisition (Austin 2007, 2012, 2013). With respect to adults, work on Basque sentence processing has revealed that processing differences can be detected among those who learned Basque since birth and as early as two or three years old (Zawiszewski et al. 2011). Research on the patterns of use among adult new speakers of Basque, however, has been surprisingly scarce. An exception to this is Lantto’s work (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018), which examined code-switching patterns among native speakers and new speakers of Basque in the Greater Bilbao Area. Lantto found a difference among the two groups in that new speakers tended to code-switch more peripherally (by interjections, tags and discourse markers) than native speakers and attributed those patterns of the purist tendency of the speakers themselves.

Much sociolinguistics research on adult new speakers has centered around linguistic attitudes towards different varieties of Basque (Amorrortu 2000; Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2013), linguistic identity (Ortega et al. 2014, 2015, 2016; Urla et al. 2016) the role that higher education may be playing in the dissemination of certain standards for education (Amonarriz 2015), as well as recommendations for the future promotion of Basque (Euskaltzaindia 2004). Among the concerns, the influence of Spanish (or French) in modern Basque has sparked both institutional and popular interest. This is evidenced in the number of blogs and websites that are devoted to providing lists of contact-induced phenomena.[4]. These compilations often label contact phenomena under the ideologically-charged term erderakadak [barbarisms] and are commonly treated as calques.

Calquing, traditionally defined as ‘word-by-word translation’, is undoubtedly a common aspect of language contact. However, categorizing every possible contact effect as a calque is turning a blind eye to the myriad of ways in which contact-induced phenomena occur. In the relatively young tradition of contact linguistics, different frameworks of contact-induced phenomena have shown that contact-induced variables are constrained by a wide range of linguistic and social factors, such as, universal markedness, feature integration, typological distance, intensity of contact, speakers’ attitudes and learning mechanisms, just to name a few (Thomason 2001; Matras 2009). One of the major contributions of the field has been to understand the various contact-induced phenomena that bilinguals could produce in their creation of a bilingual or multilingual repertoire. These outcomes not only vary from contact situation to situation, but are also dependent on the type of bilingual, language acquisition mechanisms or speakers’ ideological representations of language (see Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2019 for an overview).

The Basque-Spanish contact scenario in BAC is an ideal situation to examine possible differences in the mechanisms that new speakers employ in their contact-induced outcomes. This is because the last 40 years of language revitalization have led to a more heterogeneous group of speakers. It is important to emphasize that the contact situation in the BAC is a complex one, characterized by two over-arching contact situations that are not mutually exclusive: one such type of contact is language contact (Basque and Spanish; given the fact that every speaker of Basque is also a speaker of Spanish in the BAC). The other one refers to dialect contact, whereby different speakers who speak different varieties of Basque come into contact through interaction or acquisition (bidialectalism). Previous work has shown that language contact situations tend to induce structural convergence (contact between groups increase similarity between the languages) whereas leveling effects (erosion of similarities) are more common in dialect contact situations (Silva-Corvalán 1994; Winford 2005). Previous work on Basque language and dialect contact has shown both effects of dialectal leveling (Haddican 2005; Aurrekoetxea 2010) and structural convergence (Austin 2006; Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016).

Due to space limitations, the present study cannot pay tribute to all these possible contact scenarios, and therefore, the discussion will be limited to the situation of Basque-Spanish contact. Additionally, a group of native Basque-Spanish bilinguals who speak a “local” variety are incorporated in order to show that the three contact-features presented in this study are not unique to new speakers.

3. Methodologies

The data for this study come from naturally-occurring data gathered by means of semi-directed sociolinguistic interviews that took place in local cafés, schools and private homes (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016). A total of 84 Basque-Spanish bilinguals were individually interviewed by the author for about 45–60 minutes both in Basque and Spanish[5]. They were asked to first talk about themselves (i.e., place of birth, place of studies, their occupation, etc.) to share some childhood memories, share their experience in the national economic crisis at that time and discuss their plans for the summer. They were then asked to share stories related to their process of learning Basque and how they felt about their linguistic practices as well as their linguistic identity. Approximately, 95 hours of spontaneous speech was transcribed using the linguistic annotator ELAN (Sloetjes & Wittenburg 2008) and coded for specific linguistic features.

2.1 Participants

The 84 Basque-Spanish bilinguals that participated in the study were stratified into 4 groups according to bilingual-type based on previous research on age effects (Meisel 2008). Participants’ background information was collected through a questionnaire that targeted questions related to when they began learning Basque and Spanish, ages, dialects spoken, and patterns of language use. Additionally, their proficiency wasted using a 24-item proficiency test[6]. Participants’ background information are summarized in Table 1.

Tab. 1: Distribution of participants according to bilingual type and dialect type

New speaker: Intermediate learners New speaker: Advanced learners New speaker: Early-sequential bilinguals Native bilinguals Total
Speakers n=12 n=15 n=15 n=42 N=84
Location Greater Bilbao Area Greater Bilbao Area Greater Bilbao Area Gernika Area
Spoken variety Batua Batua Batua Gernika Basque
Ages 22–46 20–46 18–31 18–65
Age onset 16–30 12–21 3–6 0–2
Amount of Basque use[7] 1.9 2.5 2.2 4.1

The first group, native Basque-Spanish bilinguals, is conformed by speakers who learned both Spanish and Basque at home. There were a total of 42 speakers and their ages ranged between the ages of 18 and 65. These speakers were recruited from the semi-urban area of Gernika, where a regional dialect is spoken. Participants in this group reported to mainly speak the local variety but many of them, especially the younger generation, had literacy skills in Batua. However, such use was confined to mainly academic writing purposes, not orality. Younger speakers in this group were bidialectal in Basque (Gernika Basque and Batua) and bilingual with Spanish.

Speakers in the remaining three groups were recruited from the Greater Bilbao Area whose ages ranged from 18 to 43 and reported to speak Batua. These speakers represent what we have been referring to as new speakers. Because they do not constitute a homogenous group neither in their learning mechanisms nor in their proficiency, they were divided into three groups: early sequential bilinguals conform the group that started learning Basque at the age 2 or 3 through the Basque immersion program (Model D). The advanced speakers in this study began learning Basque either during puberty or after. They were enrolled in after school programs and were either preparing to take or had recently passed the Basque proficiency test (EGA Euskal Gaitasun Agiria [Basque Proficiency Test]) at the time of being interviewed. The intermediate speakers were those who began learning Basque after puberty and scored lower in the proficiency test. With the exception of two speakers (Leticia and Andoni in Section 5), all new speakers reported to have learned the standardized variety of Batua. Although they reported to use the language to different extents, most speakers reported that their overall use of Basque was rather low, and restricted to certain domains such as adult-program schools, romantic relationships or in conversation clubs (i.e., Berbalagun).

4. Contact features in new speakers’ linguistic repertoire

The three morphosyntactic features of interest are: Differential Object Marking (DOM), ergative case-marking and Subject Pronoun Expression (SPE). We chose these features because they have either been deemed induced-by contact or have shown to be vulnerable to contact effects. We follow a variationist approach to contact linguistics to examine the linguistic factors that favor the use of such phenomena among different groups of new speakers.

4.1 Differential Object Marking

Differential Object Marking (DOM, henceforth) refers to the construction whereby certain objects get differently marked depending on a number of factors (Bossong 1985; Aissen 2003). The two most common factors associated with DOM are the animacy and specificity or definiteness of the direct object, whereby animate objects may get case-marked. In Basque, these objects appear case-marked with the dative case in the nominal inflection and the auxiliary verb (2):

Ni-k Mikel ikusi d-u-t.
I-erg Mikel.abs see

‘I have seen Mikel.’

Aud. 1: Ni-k Mikel ikusi d-u-t. (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Ni-k Mikel-e-rii ikusi d-i-oi -t.
I-erg Mikel-vowel-dat see -1sg.erg.

‘I have seen Mikel.’

Aud. 2: Ni-k Mikel-e-rii ikusi d-i-oi-t. (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Basque DOM has been argued to be the result of intense contact with the Basque Leísta Dialect of Spanish (Austin 2006, 2013; Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016, 2017), known for its animate leísmo (Ormazábal & Romero 2013). In this dialect, animate and specific objects are both marked with the dative clitic le and show clitic-doubling with a-marking (also referred as a personal) (3):

Le he visto a Mikel.
leísmo 1sg.have see.part dom Mikel.

‘I have seen Mikel.’

Aud. 3: Le he visto a Mikel. (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Previous work on Basque DOM has focused on regional varieties and has shown that its use is not only constrained by a number of linguistic factors such as animacy, specificity, definiteness, verb semantics, tense-aspect-mood, null objects (Donohue 2011; Mounole 2012; Odria 2014, 2017; Fernández & Rezac 2016) but it is also affected by social factors constrained (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016, 2017).

On what follows, we show the similarities and differences on the use of Basque DOM among new speakers. In our variationist approach to contact linguistics (Meyerhoff 2009), we extrapolated prototypical two-place predicate verbs (or verbs that are used transitively)[8] and coded whether direct objects are DOM-marked (dative) or not (absolutive). To determine the extent to which DOM grammars are similar among new speakers, we coded for four linguistic factors[9]:

  1. Animacy_Specificity_Person_Number [10]

  2. Verb_Semantics (Perceptual, Motion, Physical, etc.)

  3. Verb_Borrowings (Etymologically Basquevs. Spanish Borrowing)

  4. Type of Object (Overt vs. Null)

Four different mixed-effects models were computed using the glmer function in the lme4 package in R (Bates et al. 2015) setting the use of DOM as the dependent variable all linguistic factors as independent fixed variables speaker as random effect. We followed a hierarchy constraints analysis, a long tradition in statistical analysis in variationist sociolinguistics, which examines the relative favorability of a factor in predicting a linguistic variable (DOM vs. absolutive) within each group (Walker 2014: 451) and allows us to represent the variable grammar of each bilingual type. In this respect, groups who share such hierarchy are argued to share the same linguistic system in their production of Basque DOM.

In our examination of 2,389 constructions it is confirmed that DOM is confined to animate specific objects, with an overall rate of 31.6%. Figure 1 shows the use of DOM in each group, each dot representing individual means.

                              Fig. 2: Means and individual variation of
                                Basque DOM (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 2: Means and individual variation of Basque DOM (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

The high individual variation in the production of Basque DOM is a sign that new speakers of Basque do not constitute a homogenous group. In terms of group trends, both native speakers and intermediate speakers show the highest rates of Basque DOM, 32% and 36.8% respectively. Early sequential bilinguals and advanced speakers showed the lowest rates 15.5% and 18.1%, respectively. Although the statistical analysis showed that the three groups that constitute new speakers (green) are not statistically significant from each other a trend can be observed: as proficiency increases, the use of Basque DOM decreases[11].

For each group, a separate model was run in order to extrapolate the linguistic factors that govern the use of Basque in each bilingual group. The order in which linguistic factors appear is representative of the hierarchical constraint analysis. Results are shown in Table 2:

Tab. 2: Summary of the linguistic factors constraining the use of Basque DOM

Intermediate. (Bilbao) Advanced (Bilbao) ESB (Bilbao) Native (Gernika)
32% DOM 18.1% DOM 15.5% DOM 36.8% DOM
1st sing (55.5 %) 1st sing (40 %) 1st sing (53,8%) ** 1st sing/pl (92.3 %) ***[12]
2nd sing (100 %) 2nd sing (75 %) 2nd sing (30.77%) ** 2nd sing (95.2 %) ***
3rd [+spec, sg] (19%) 3rd [+spec, sg] (4.2%) 3rd [+spec, sg] (15.3%) 3rd [+spec, sg] (21.1%)
Psychological (62.5%) Psychological (50 %) Psychological (33.3%) Psychological (77.8%) *
Physical (33.3%) Motion (40 %) Physical (22.2%) Physical (48.7%) *
Motion (33.3 %) Physical (35%) Causatives (33.3%)
Null objects (47.1%) Null objects (44.8%) Null objects (25%) Null objects (57%) *
Spanish verbs. (0%) Spanish verbs. (28.6%) Spanish verbs. (20%) Spanish verbs. (70.7%) *
Null objects + Spanish Null objects + Spanish Null objects + Spanish
verb (13%) verb (25%) verb (82.7%)*

Similar to the quantitative analysis, Table 2 shows that the linguistic factors constraining the use of Basque DOM across groups also varies. As previously found, new speakers also used more DOM with first and second person objects and then extends to the third person specific objects. Examples (4), (5), and (6) show this pattern:

A ver guri eskolarekin eraman zi-zi-…z-i-gu-te-n
Let’s see we.dat take 3.erg-3sg.asb 1pl.dat-pl-past

‘Let’s see, (they) took us in school’

Aud. 4: A ver guri eskolarekin eraman zi-zi-…z-i-gu-te-n (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

O sea unibertsitatean edo kontratatu d-i-zu-te...
so university.loc or hire rg

‘So they hire you at the university’

Aud. 5: O sea unibertsitatean edo kontratatu d-i-zu-te... (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

e… bere familia berari bidali z-i-o-n Muruetara
m… his family he.dat send 3sg.erg-3sg.abs-3sg.dat-past Murueta.all

‘His family sent him to Murueta’

Aud. 6: e… bere familia berari bidali z-i-o-n (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

In terms of the semantics of the verb all speakers were relatively homogeneous, showing that psychological verbs ( ezagutu [to know]) favor DOM the most as shown in (7), followed by either physical ( harrapatu [to grab], hartu [to take]) or motion verbs ( ekarri [to bring], bidali [to send]).

Zeuri gainera ezagutu n-i-zui -n ba hamen Gernikan
You.dat On top meet 1sg.erg- so here Gernika.loc
of that 3sg.abs-

‘On top of that, I met you here in Gernika’

Aud. 7: Zeuri gainera ezagutu n-i-zui-n ba hamen Gernikan (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

The interesting differences are found in whether speakers use DOM with borrowed verbs from Spanish and their interaction with null objects: native bilinguals overwhelmingly favor Basque DOM with Spanish verbs, whereas intermediate speakers did not show evidence that they use Basque DOM with Spanish borrowed verbs. In fact, intermediate speakers did not borrow a single verb from Spanish. An important pattern emerges within the new speakers of Basque: as proficiency increases, the use of Basque DOM decreases, but its use with verbal borrowings increases. Compare, for instance, the example in (5) above when DOM is used with the Spanish borrowing kontratatu [to hire] to example in (8) in which the speaker used DOM with a semantically similar verb hartu [to take]:

kontratua hilabete bat, baina gero amaitzen bazaizu kontratu hori berriro hartzen dizute berriro
Contract.the month one, but then finish.pres aux contract that again take.pres again

‘The contract [is] one month, but if that contract ends, they take you again.’

Aud. 8: kontratua hilabete bat, baina gero amaitzen bazaizu kontratu hori berriro hartzen dizute berriro (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

The underlying difference between using Basque DOM with verbal borrowings vs. with no verbal borrowings have been attributed to the result of two different mechanisms of borrowing, namely pattern (PAT-borrowing) and matter (MAT-borrowing). PAT-borrowing refers to “the patterns of distribution, of grammatical and semantic meaning, and of formal-syntactic arrangement at various levels (discourse, clause, phrase, or word) that are modelled on an external source” (Matras & Sakel 2007: 829–830) whereas matter-borrowing (MAT-borrowing) refers to the “direct replication of morphemes and phonological shapes from a source language” (Matras & Sakel 2007: 829). In this respect, it is argued that all groups resort to pattern borrowing, in which the distribution of the dative -ri is being rearranged at the expense of Spanish DOM (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2020). It is only when speakers gain proficiency that PAT-borrowing interacts with MAT-borrowing through the direct borrowings of Spanish verbs.

Overall, results show that Basque DOM is used by all type of bilinguals but the degree and the mechanisms of contact are different. In what follows, we present data for the ergative case-marking.

4.2 Ergative case marking

Basque is considered an ergative language with accusative syntax and ergative morphology[13], whereby subjects of transitive and unergative verbs bear the morphological ergative case marker -k as in (9) and (10), whereas unaccusative subjects and direct objects are marked with the default absolutive marker (-ø) as in (11).


Ni-k liburu-a-ø irakurri d-u-t
I-erg book-the-abs read

‘I read the book’

Aud. 9: Ni-k liburu-a-ø irakurri d-u-t (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)


Ni-k etsi d-u-t
I-erg resign

‘I resigned / I am desperate’

Aud. 10: Ni-k etsi d-u-t (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)


Ni-ø iritsi n-aiz
I-abs arrive abs.1sg-be

‘I arrived’

Aud. 11: Ni-ø iritsi n-aiz (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Basque ergativity is surfaced both in nominal and verbal inflection. With the exception of a small number of synthetic forms, Basque verbs are composed of a lexical verb that carries aspectual information and an auxiliary verb bearing tense, agreement and modal information. Basque ergativity surfaces as affixes in one of the two auxiliary verbs (izan [be] and *edun [have]) and these affixes usually agree in person, number and case with the arguments they encode. The auxiliary selection is dependent on the valency of the verbal predicate: transitive and unergative verbs generally select derived forms from *edun [have], whereas unaccusative verbs select izan (BE), as shown in (8–10) (Etxepare 2003)[14]. Thus, the first person ergative verbal affix -t in (8) and (9) agree with the ergative subject nik [I] whereas the first person absolutive verbal affix n- agrees with its absolutive form ni [I] in (10).

Most work on the use of Basque ergativity has been conducted from child language acquisition. This work has demonstrated that Basque ergativity is acquired earlier in the verbal inflection whereas children (monolingual, or bilingual) go through an Optional Ergative Case Stage that lasts longer for L2-Basque children (Ezeizabarrena & Larrañaga 1996; Larrañaga 2000; Austin 2007, 2013; Ezeizabarrena, Manterola, & Beloki 2009). The prolonged nature of ergative marking in the nominal inflection has been attributed to language internal factors such as allomorphy, syncretisms, and homophony with no clear effects of input (Ezeizabarrena 2011). For instance, in their examination of the ergative case marking of a monolingual Basque child (Mikel), Ezeizabarrena & Larrañaga (1996) show target-like realization of ergative -k at 87.9% in preconsonantal positions and target-like production of 78.9% in utterance final positions but 26.6% of target like marking in preconsonantal positions. With respect to adults, Arregi & Nevins (2012: 37) also argue that “the ergative subject -k can surface as absolutive -ø [...] in substandard spoken Basque varieties” attributing such realization to the fact that consonant clusters are rare in Basque (Hualde 1991).

With respect to adults, the use and knowledge of Basque ergativity has not been explored until recently. Using Event-Related Potentials (ERPs), Zawiszewski et al. (2011) examined electrophysiological responses of -k/-ø marking in two groups of young adult speakers of Basque (aged 19–25): group 1 were simultaneous Basque-Spanish bilinguals whereas group 2 was comprised by new speakers who had Spanish as their L1 and started to be exposed to Basque as early as 3. Their results showed that new speakers did not have a P600 effect in sentences in which ergative case marking was realized as -ø and they attributed such lack of effect to speakers’ processing of Basque unmarked subjects as Spanish (nominative) non-marked subjects.

More recently, Rodríguez-Ordóñez (2015) administered an acceptability judgement task of -k/-ø marking in transitive, unergative and unaccusative sentences. A total of 48 young Basque-Spanish bilinguals participated in the study (9=native; 11=early sequential bilinguals; 16=L2 advanced; 12=L2 intermediate). An analysis of variance revealed that native speakers categorically rated the grammaticality of sentences. Although some early sequential bilinguals and L2-advanced speakers rated unmarked ergative subjects as possible, there was an effect of “grammaticality”, suggesting that speakers had clear intuitions of grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. Intermediate speakers, however, did not show a grammaticality effect with respect to case marking among unergative and unaccusative verbs, suggesting that they do not distinguish them in terms of case-marking.

Here, we report that results on the spontaneous use of Basque ergativity marking in the nominal inflection of 30 speakers (six Gernika Basque speakers and 24 new speakers from Bilbao). New speakers were stratified with respect to their proficiency as follows: early-sequential bilingual (N=8), advanced (N=8) and intermediate (N=8). Overt subjects of unaccusative, unergative, and transitive verbs were extrapolated and coded for the presence or absence of ergative -k [15]


Data was then coded for three linguistic factors: verb type (transitive, unergative, and unaccusative), person_number and phonological context (prevocal, preconsonantal or final) and submitted to a number of mixed-effects models in R. In total, 2,646 overt subjects were analyzed. As shown in Table 3, more than half of all tokens were unaccusative subjects, followed by transitive subjects and a low rate of unergatives, a trend that is consistent across groups.

Tab. 3: Amount of overt subjects analyzed in each group according to verb type

Transitive Unergative Unaccusative Total
Native 204 (26.7%) 14 (1.8%) 547 (71.5%) 765
ESB 221 (33%) 26 (3.9%) 422 (63.1%) 669
Advanced 248 (34.2%) 20 (2.8%) 458 (63%) 726
Intermediate 191 (39.3%) 24 (4.9%) 271 (55.8%) 486

Figures 3 and 4 show the overall rates of ergative marking in transitive and unergative subjects and unaccusative subjects, respectively, with each dot representing individual means.

                              Fig. 3: Means and individual variation
                                of ergative case marking (-k) in transitive and
                                unergative subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 3: Means and individual variation of ergative case marking (-k) in transitive and unergative subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

                              Fig. 4: Means and individual variation
                                of ergative case marking (-k) in unaccusative
                                subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 4: Means and individual variation of ergative case marking (-k) in unaccusative subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Figures 2 and 3 demonstrated that the use of ergative -k marking is confined to transitive and unergative subjects, with few uses of unaccusative subjects. All groups seem to realize the ergative subject as -ø with an ample individual variation: the average use of ergative -k with transitive and unergative subjects among native bilinguals in Gernika was that of 84.%, 70.6% for early sequential bilinguals, 65.4% for advanced speakers and 61.3% for intermediate speakers. The statistical model yielded significant results between the intercept (natives) and all other three groups: early sequential bilinguals (β = 0.15621, t = 2.25, p<0.05), advanced speakers (β = 0.13431, t = 2.975, p<0.05) and intermediates (β = 0.12650, t = 5.062, p<0.01). The examples below show the realization of ergative subject as -ø for a transitive subject (12a) and an unergative subject (12b).

eta andereinoa-ø galdetu ein dozten
and teacher ask do AUX.have

‘And the teacher asked me [that]’

Aud. 12a: eta andereinoa-ø galdetu ein dozten (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

ta gainera bera-ø ere barre egiten du
and besides she also laugh do.pres aux.have

‘And besides, she also laughs’

Aud. 12b: ta gainera bera-ø ere barre egiten du (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Results also show that speakers very rarely over-generalize the ergative marker to unaccusative contexts (range between 0.2 and 5.0% of unaccusative verbs) consistent with previous findings on child language acquisition (Austin 2007; Ezeizabarrena 2011) This is evidence that new speakers show a mastery on the contexts in which ergative subjects are required. In short, the use of ergative subjects is not random. Even in cases of overgeneralization, which were confined to new speakers only, it can be noted that 60% of ergative -k uses in unaccusative contexts occurs in topic contexts, as in (13a–b):

Karo ZUK, hasten zarenean edo ikasten
Right YOU-erg, start.prog or learn.prog

‘Right, when you start learning’

Aud. 13a: Karo ZUK, hasten zarenean edo ikasten (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

ba NIK, ezin naiz izan andereinoa
So I-erg, can’t be teacher

‘so I, can’t be a teacher’

Aud. 13b: ba NIK, ezin naiz izan andereinoa (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

A potential reason behind such uses could be related and added pragmatic value, whereby new speakers use the ergative marker as a means of emphasizing the subject, leading to a more agentive reading.

Confirmation of such hypothesis awaits further research.

With respect to person and number, the model yielded a significant effect but only among the three groups of new speakers. Particularly, Figure 5 shows that, for subjects of transitive verbs, new speakers omitted the ergative case marker with second and third person singular subjects to a greater extent than with first person singular objects. Examples are shown in (14) and (15), respectively.

                              Fig. 5: Use of ergative
                                    -k marker according to person of transitive
                                subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 5: Use of ergative -k marker according to person of transitive subjects (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

sei hilabeteko umea-ø eee ez du ezer esaten
Six months.GEN kid-ABS. mm no AUX nothing say.PRES

‘A six month old kid does not say anything’

Aud. 14: sei hilabeteko umea-ø eee ez du ezer esaten (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

ba igual etorkizunean ni-ø bere laguntza beharko dut
so maybe I her help need.future AUX.have

‘So maybe I will need her help in the future’

Aud. 15: ba igual etorkizunean ni-ø bere laguntza beharko dut (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Finally, a phonological effect was also found in all groups, except early sequential bilinguals. As Figure 6 shows, all groups, except ESB omit the ergative -k marker in pre-consonantal positions to greater extent, an effect that was statistically significant compared to pre-vocalic positions (all effects at p< 0.05 for natives, advanced, and intermediate groups). Intermediate speakers also omit the ergative case marker to a greater extent in final utterance positions, an effect that was only marginally significant compared to the pre-vocalic position (β = -1.08, t = -3.085, p=0.052).

                              Fig. 6: Mean values of omission rates of
                                ergative -k according to phonological context
                                (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 6: Mean values of omission rates of ergative -k according to phonological context (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Overall, results for the ergative case marking show that all Basque-Spanish bilingual omit it to some extent and that overgeneralizations are quite rare. The extent at which the omissions occur varies significantly not only between groups but also individually. Despite these omissions, new speakers master the knowledge of the contexts in which the ergative case marking is appropriate and adhere to phonological rules of the language in its production. These results are in line with previous accounts in that the acquisition of ergative case marker is a developmental feature (Austin 2007; Ezeizabarrena 2011) and the morphology aspect of ergativity is not only more vulnerable to cross-linguistic influence but presents more challenges to be acquired (Haznedar 2006).

4.3 Subject Pronoun Expression

Like Spanish, Basque is considered a “consistent null subject language”, which allows for subjects to be unexpressed. Additionally, Basque also shows a 3-way agreement in the verb which allows up to three pro-drop arguments as in (16a–b):

Nik Joni artikuluak eman d-i-zki-o-t
I.ERG Jon.DAT articles.ABS give L-3.PR-pl.ABS-3sg.DAT-1sg.ERG

‘I have given the papers to Jon’

Aud. 16a: Nik Joni artikuluak eman d-i-zki-o-t (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

[eERG] [eDAT] [eABS] eman d-i-zki-o-t
give L-3.PR-pl.ABS-3sg.DAT-1sg.ERG

‘I have given the papers to Jon’ (Duguine, 2008: 312)

Aud. 16b: [eERG] [eDAT] [eABS] eman d-i-zki-o-t (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Within generative linguistics, a number of theories exist as to why languages differ in their patterns of omitting subjects and what features or licensing mechanisms may allow for subjects to be unpronounced (Rizzi 1986; Roberts & Holmberg 2010). In sociolinguistics, the study of null subject parameter has been referred as to Subject Pronoun Expression (SPE) and focuses on the linguistic and social constraints with respect to the over use of personal pronouns. It has also been as a “showcase” of sociolinguistics variable due to the high variability of patterns that the use of subjects present within different varieties of the same language (Cameron 1992; Otheguy, Zentella, & Livert 2007). Similar to ergative, SPE also interacts with other interfaces such as semantics and pragmatics and has been shown to be vulnerable to cross-linguistic influence (Montrul 2004; Sorace 2011; Otheguy, Zentella, & Livert 2007), yet these effects usually remains below the radar of sociolinguistic awareness among speakers (Erker 2017).

Basque personal pronouns are homophonous with their corresponding verbal agreement affixes (Gómez & Sainz 1995), which renders the assumption that Basque agreement affixes are pronominal affixes (Ezeizabarrena 2013). Basque lacks a third-person pronoun and uses the demonstrative hura [this/that] or quasi pronoun bera [s/he] (Rijk 2008). Although null subjects are the unmarked form in Basque, it has been demonstrated that the use of over pronouns are neither random nor idiosyncratic (Ezeizabarrena 2013: 314). For instance, null subjects are obligatory in weather constructions (Ø euria ari du [it’s raining]) or impersonal sentences (esan dute lehendakaria etorriko dela [they said that the president will come]). When subject pronouns are phonologically realized, these are often used for topicalization purposes (17) or may have a contrastive focus interpretation (18):

Lagun asko dakatenak, harek egunero urten bier d-a-be!
Friend many have they.ERG everyday go.out have L-3sg.PR-ERG.3pl

‘Those who have lots of friends, they always have to go out!’ (Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainmaza-Lecanda 2018: 530)

Aud. 17: Lagun asko dakatenak, harek egunero urten bier d-a-be! (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

(18) Izas: Ø pozik bizi da han?
Ø happy live be there
‘does Ø=(she) live happy there?’
Jone: karo…. Ezta ba pozik Ø bizi! NI be bizi-ko n-intze-n pozik han!
Of course… does.not so happy Ø live! I also live-FUT 1sg-PST.1sg-PAST happy there!
‘Of course… doesn’t Ø=(she) live happy! I would also live happy there!’(Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainmaza-Lecanda 2018: 530)

Aud. 18: Izas and Jone (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

The vast majority of work on Basque SPE has been in syntactic theory (Ortiz de Urbina 1989; Duguine 2008, 2012) or in child language acquisition (Ezeizabarrena 2013; Iraola 2015; Iarola. Santesteban, & Ezeizabarrena 2014; Iarola et al. 2016) but lesser is known about adult use of Basque SPE. For instance, Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainzmaza-Lecanda (2018) compared 25 Basque-Spanish bilinguals (native Basque bilinguals to three groups of new speakers) and showed a potential language contact effect, whereby the use of Basque SPE among intermediate speakers resembled that of Spanish monolingual speakers. However, contrary to Sorace (2011), it was argued that new speakers of Basque were responsive to discourse-pragmatic constraints.

In what follows, we analyze the spontaneous speech of 37 Basque-Spanish bilinguals (6=native; 11=early sequential bilinguals; 10=advanced speakers and 10=intermediate speakers). For each speaker, approximately 100 tokens were extracted from the semi-guided conversations, yielding a total of 3,059 extracted tokens. Following a variationist tradition, the variable contexts of SPE were taken into account, excluding contexts in which the overt or null variation are obligatory (see Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainmaza-Lecanda [2018: 14–17] for further details). Tokens were coded for four linguistic factors common in the literature of SPE: person & number, switch reference, priming, verb semantics. Four different mixed-effects models were computed (one per bilingual group) using the glmer function in the lme4 package in R (Bates et al. 2015) setting the use of SPE as the dependent variable all linguistic factors as independent fixed variables speaker as random effect.

Figure 6 shows the boxplots representing the means and the variance in each group along with individual results (black dots).

                              Fig. 7: Means and individual variation
                                of Basque SPE (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Fig. 7: Means and individual variation of Basque SPE (Rodríguez-Ordóñez 2016)

Similar to DOM and ergative case marking, Basque SPE is also highly variable with group averages of 11.9% for natives, 19% for ESB, 19.2% for advanced speakers, and 25.2% for intermediate speakers. The first model indicated that the three groups of new speakers did not significantly differ from each other quantitatively, but showed that the difference of Basque SPE between intermediate and native bilinguals was statistically significant (β = -0.69, z = -2.67, p < 0.05). Although the initial analysis may infer that new speakers do not differ in their use of SPE, Table 4 shows a summary of the linguistic constraints governing the use of Basque SPE in each group and compares such results to those reported for monolingual varieties of Peninsular Spanish.

Tab. 4: Summary of the linguistic factors constraining the use of Basque SPE

Linguistic Constraints Spanish Monolinguals (Cameron 1992) Basque Intermediate (N=10) Basque Advanced (N=10) Basque ESB (N=11) Basque Native (N=6)
% overt pronoun 21% 25.2 % ~19.2 % ~19 % ~11.9 %
Stative 38.3%** 17% 24.6% 16.8%*
Mental 36.1% ** 34.5%** 25.7% 19.6%
Communicative 32.9% 25% 16.7% 12.5%
Dynamic 16.1% 15% 15% 7.9%
Overt > Overt 32.6%* 25.3%*** 24.8%* 14.3%
Null > Overt 21.8% 15.7% 15.9% 11%
Switch > Overt 30.1% *** 32.3%*** 22.7%** 15%**
Same > Overt 19.3% 12.1% 12.7% 7.6%
1st sing 27.7% * 32%* 20%* 13.8%
2nd sing 23.8% 20% 18.1% 9.3%
3rd sing 26.7% 13.5% 40%*** 12.1%
PL 22.8% 13% 22% 16.7%
[-spec] 14.7% 10.5% 8.8% 1.2%

As shown in Table 4, three factors are shared to constrained the use of Basque SPE among new speakers of Basque: priming, switch reference and first person singular objects. Specifically, results show that a previous overt mention of a subject significantly increases the likelihood to express a subject pronoun as in (19). With respect to switch reference, new speakers produce more SPEs when there is a switch in subject, that is, when the previous referent is different from that that is being produced as in (20), a commonality that is shared with native speakers. Finally, new speakers produce more SPE with first person singular subjects as shown in (19):

Eta nik seme-alabak badau, eee badaukat, e... nik, nik nahi dut ingelesez edo euskaraz hitz egitea. Nik uste dut eee txikitan ba...
And I son-daugthers 3sg.AUX mmm AUX.1sg m… I, I want AUX.1sg or talk do. I think AUX.1sg mmm so…

‘and if I have children, eeeee have…. I, I want [them] to speak in English or Basque. I think as a kid that….’

Aud. 19: Eta nik seme-alabak badau, eee badaukat, e… nik, nik nahi dut ingelesez edo euskarazhitz egitea. Nik uste dut eee txikitan ba... (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

zuk esan duzun moduan, munduan bat aukeratuko bagenu ba bera esan duen bezala osea,
you say AUX.2sg as, [∅ = we] one chose AUX.1pl so she say AUX.3sg as so

‘as you said, if in the world, we would pick one, as she said so’

Aud. 20: zuk esan duzun moduan, ∅ munduan bat aukeratuko bagenu ba bera esan duen bezala osea. (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

With respect to the semantics of the verb, new speakers are not uniform as to which verbs favor more SPEs in Basque. Whereas intermediate speakers show a significant increase of SPEs with mental verbs (uste [to believe], pentsatu [to think]) and stative verbs (izan [to be] eduki [to have]) as in (21) and (22), respectively, advanced speakers produce significantly more subjects with mental verbs only (pentsatu [to think]).

eta ni pentsatu nuen “bueno ba nahi duzun moduan, niri… pr!”
and I thought AUX.1sg “well so ∅=you want AUX.2sg as, I…pr!”

‘and I thought: “well so, however you want it, it doesn’t bother me!”’

Aud. 21: eta ni pentsatu nuen “bueno ba ∅ nahi duzun moduan, niri… pr!’” (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

ya, zuk daukazu zure bizitza etxean
right, you have your life

‘Right, you have your life at home’

Aud. 22: ya, zuk daukazu zure bizitza etxean (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

The data also shows that intermediate speakers of Basque show a very similar pattern from those Spanish monolinguals in Madrid (Cameron 1992) not only quantitatively but also qualitatively as almost the same linguistic constraints govern their use of Basque SPE. The shared commonalities between the new speakers have been also attested in other monolingual varieties of Peninsular Spanish (Enríquez 1984; Prada-Pérez 2015). Importantly so, early sequential bilinguals are set apart from the other two groups of new speakers: first, no main effect of verb semantics was found and second, they produce significantly more SPEs with third person subjects. Following Shin (2014), Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainzmaza-Lecanda (2018) argued that early sequential bilinguals may employ more subjects in this context to compensate for the lack of an overt morpheme in the verbal inflection.

Another possibility is that, since Basque lacks “true” third person subject pronouns and uses demonstrative hura or quasi pronoun bera, these may be processed differently from first and second person subject pronouns counterparts. Previous experimental work has shown that the interpretation of hura/bera in their overt and null form are different between children and adults (Iraola 2015) and between L1-Basque and L2-Basque children (Iraola et al. 2016). Importantly, in our data it was bera (and not hura) that was mostly used (96.2%).

A third possibility could be ascribed to the pragmatic functioning of the overt pronouns. Previous work has emphasized the importance of “pragmatic weight” (Davidson 1996) as a means of exercising differing pragmatic functions such as emphasis, disambiguation of epistemic parentheticals or “to increase their ‘stake’ in whatever they are saying, either in an argument or in a statement of belief” (Davidson 1996: 551). Although most of the pragmatic analysis have been centered around first-person singular pronominal subjects (Posio 2011), the results found among early sequential bilinguals provides an opportunity to enquiry into potential pragmatic uses of Basque SPE.

The following example provides the highest uses of bera within the same discourse and speaker. At the time of conversation, these two speakers were residing in the United States, where they had been conducting their graduate studies for two and three years respectively and were discussing how people constantly asked them whether they would return to the Basque Country. Note Peio’s uses of bera in the following excerpt:[16]

(23) Peio: Badakizu, nire nire anaia oraintxe bertan Txilen dago. Berak Bilbaon lan egiten du, konsultoria baten edo, ez dakit, bera ingenieroa da. Eta… Ø Txilera joan zen zerbait egitera, like, I don’t kno-, ez dakit, bere konpainiarekin, 3 aste. Bueno, ba dago nire etxean un drama familiar bat….. Ø joan delako, 3 aste… eta bera, (..) beti dago Algortan, eta Bilbaon eta familiarekin eta bera dago hain triste, eta eta depresivo. Jo! ze Ø 3 aste egon behar da beste eh… munduko beste parte baten, and I’m like “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Peio: ‘You know, my my brother is in Chile right now. He works in Bilbao, at a consultancy firm or, I don’t know, he is an engineer. And… he[=Ø] went to Chile to do something, like, I don’t kno-, I don’t know, with his company, for 3 weeks. Well, so there is such a familial drama at my house … ((childish tone)) because he[=Ø] left, for three weeks… and he (..) is always in Algorta, and in Bilbao, with the family and he is so sad, and and depressed. Man! cuz he[=Ø] has to be in the other side of the world for three weeks, and I’m like “are you fucking kidding me?’”’

Aud. 23: Peio (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

The first mention of the subject referent is introduced early on as nire anaia [my brother] with a total five instances of overt bera referring to the same subject throughout the story, alternating its use with three instances of its null counterpart. In this excerpt, the overt productions of bera could be regarded as information that the speaker wants to bring to the foreground by highlighting the most relevant information about his brother (he works in Bilbao and he is an engineer), a strategy that has been attested in previous work on SPE (Blackwell 2003). The next sentence beginning with bueno [well] shifts the setting to familial background and the subsequent mentions of bera [he] brings the protagonist back to the forefront, a strategy that is also highlighted in change in tone to jokingly condemn the state of being sad about leaving. The pragmatic functions of these pronouns along with other subject pronouns in combination with verbal semantics is a fruitful venue for a better understanding of the complex uses of Basque SPE among new Basque speakers. We leave this endeavor for future research.

In summary, results on the use of Basque DOM, ergative case-marking and SPE reveal that these features are neither unique to nor uniformly used by new speakers, leading us to the conclusions that new speakers of Basque do not constitute a homogenous speech community and that the mechanisms behind their use of these phenomena may depend on the type of bilingual and proficiency of Basque. Another possibility on the variable use of these phenomena could be attributed to the social significance of these phenomena. Due to space limitations, we will not be able to provide a thorough analysis on how the social significance could directly or indirectly affect the use of these structures. Instead, the following section provides an overview on how contact phenomena is achieving social meaning in Basque and how the ideologies behind contact may contribute to new speakers “authenticity” (or lack thereof) as members of the Basque speaking community.

5. Language ideologies and identities on contact phenomena

Recent work on new speakers of Basque has shown that they do not generally enjoy the same prestige and are often associated speaking an “artificial variety”. The process by which a particular variety or linguistic repertoires become linked to specific speakers has been referred as to “enregisterment” (Agha 2005). The process of enregisterement is complex and dynamic governed by a myriad of ideologies in the space and time. Notwithstanding, the enregisterment of Batua has important implications for how identity formations are enacted, negotiated and reshaped.

For instance, Ortega and colleagues (2014, 2015, 2016) examined the way new speakers assessed their linguistic identity based on the social categories of Basque speakers, namely euskaldunzahar [old Basque speaker or native speaker], euskaldunberri [new speaker of Basque] and euskaldun [Basque speaker]. Their results showed that most new speakers adhered themselves to the category of euskaldunberri and argued that such classification was largely dependent on the mother tongue ideology, one that views the language learned at home as the determinant of somebody’s permanent linguistic identity (Skutnabb-Kangas & Phillipson 1989). They also showed that these social categories were situated within a continuum of authenticity, the relationship between a particular community that renders its language as authentic. Such scale of authenticity was identified as key determinant of legitimizing the value of Basque speakers; whereas the category of euskaldunzaharra was considered “authentic” members of the Basque community and therefore, the legitimate ones, the social category of euskaldunberri as associated with “less” letigimate social status as Basque speakers. Some participants associated themselves to the category of euskaldun [Basque speaker] and their results showed that speakers achieved moving from euskaldunberri to a more legitimized category through Basque social networks or adopting linguistic features associated with those used by the euskaldunzaharra.

Recent work has also focused on the enregisterement of contact phenomena such as code-switching. Lantto (2018) shows that new speakers’ Basque-Spanish code-switching patterns are often regarded as “lacking competence” in Basque and therefore strive for maintaining both languages separate. Similarly, Rodríguez-Ordóñez (2016) examined the attitudes towards Basque DOM using the match-guise test, a common technique in gathering implicit or covert attitudes (Drager 2013). In this experiment, speakers were asked to listen to four guises (two of them in Gernika Basque and the other two in Standard Basque either using Basque DOM or canonical case-marking). They then completed a questionnaire (based on a 1–7 Likert scale) that targeted questions on whether they perceived the guise to be an “authentic” speaker of Basque, was pleasant to hear, spoke “good” Basque and whether the guise used erderakadak barbarisms. Results revealed that both new speakers associated Basque DOM as an L2 feature and a barbarism from Spanish, but only in Standard Basque. Additionally, they associated Standard Basque DOM as somebody being “less” Basque as compared to the guise using Standard Basque with no DOM or DOM in Gernika Basque.

In what follows, we report meta-pragmatic commentaries of new speakers on the ways they perceived contact-phenomena contributed to their linguistic identities as Basque speakers.

5.1 Attitudes towards contact-induced phenomena

The first set of commentaries are related towards speakers using Basque DOM in its Standard Basque form. The first comment comes from an early sequential bilingual from the Greater Bilbao whom I call Unax. Unax grew up in Spanish-speaking household and began learning Basque at the age of three through schooling. In the interview, he stated that he considers himself euskaldun [Basque] because he follows a “Basque lifestyle”. In this particular excerpt, he comments on the last guise he heard, which was Standard Basque DOM:

(24) Unax: Azkenengo hori zen nahiko txirrioa […] entzuten badut holan da euskaldun berria fijo ze ‘maite dio’ [=DOM]... bueno ‘maite dio’ [=DOM] esan ahal dozu baina ez dakit…
Unax: ‘That last one (speaking with Standard Basque DOM) was like a squeal […] if I hear it like that, it is euskaldunberri for sure because ‘to love to her’ [=DOM]… well, ‘to love to her’ [=DOM] you can say it, but…. I don’t know…’

Aud. 24: Unax (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

This excerpt shows that Unax disassociates himself from the label euskaldunberri, a term that has strong connotations with being an L2 speaker of Basque and further associates Standard Basque DOM with such population. Notwithstanding, his description of Standard Basque DOM as a “squeal” not only voices the association of contact features such as Basque DOM as unpleasant to hear but also indexes the use of Standard Basque DOM with a less “legitimate” member of the Basque speech community. This type of reaction was a common association among all new speakers of Basque, who had a clear understanding that using Basque DOM was “the wrong” way of speaking in Basque.

The next speaker, also an early sequential bilingual whom we will call Jasone, grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and learned Basque early on through the Basque immersion program. Jasone considered herself euskaldunberri as she stated previously in the interview “I did not learn the language at home”, adhering her social categorization within a mother tongue ideology. In this excerpt, she exemplifies her prescriptive process by which she acquired the social significance of Basque DOM as the “erroneous” way of speaking Basque:

(25) Jasone: ¿cómo es? “Maria ikusi diot”. “Zer ikusi diozu? burua?” “Ez, Maria ikusi dut, vale”. […] y pues supongo que entendíamos que estaba mal porque la profesora que era un poco la autoridad nos decía que eso estaba mal y que eso no se decía y que así hablaban los que no sabían.
Jasone: ‘what is it? “Maria ikusi diot = [DOM]”. “What did you see her? The head?” “No, Maria ikusi dut, alright”. […] and so, I suppose that we understood that THAT was wrong because the teacher, who was the authority, a little bit, used to tell us that THAT was wrong, and not to say that, that people who did not know [Basque] said it.’

Aud. 25: Jasone (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

This excerpt exemplifies the enregisterment process (Agha 2005) by which Jasone went through during her school years. In that process, Jasone attached the use of Standard Basque DOM to people “who did not know”. Based on the results gathered in the matched guise, along with this comment, one may argue that the value of legitimaticy is also given not only to more pure forms of Basque, but also to speakers who may follow a prescriptive form in Standard Basque.

Those with lower proficiency of Basque were also highly aware of Basque DOM in Standard Basque, despite the fact that they ranked these feature as equally “correct” or “legitimate” as its non-DOM counterpart. This is the case of Ainara, an intermediate speaker of Basque who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household but learned Basque as a foreign language (Model A). She also considered herself euskaldunberri and was taking intensive classes at the time of the interview. She recalls:

(26) Ainara: Bai, bai, bai. Es que nik, nire ustez horrela esaten da eta errealitatean ez da horrela esaten baina karo nik hori entzuten dut.
Ainara: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I, I think that that’s the way to say it and in reality that is not the case, but well, that is what I hear.’

Aud. 26: Ainara (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

In her process of “becoming” a proficient speaker of Basque, Ainara expresses a “contradictory” model to follow: one that she hears and what that she learned as being “wrong”. In doing so, she first provides her awareness that the use of Basque DOM is common within the Basque speaking population but she quickly acknowledges that such norm is not the prescriptive (possibly institutionalized) way to speak. This excerpt is not only an example of the prescriptive nature of Standard Basque DOM being regarded as the “wrong” form of Basque but also brings to light the “type” of speaker that is socially “allowed” to use such forms. It also shows that there are multiple norms , of often contradictory, to which new speakers may orient.

5.2 New speakers, legitimacy and contact-features

In this section, we explore the relationship between Basque authenticity, legitimacy and the use of contact features. Our first examination comes from Jasone who mentioned that DOM was not allowed in the classroom. She was then asked to comment on whether she heard the use of Basque DOM outside of school. She responded:

(27) Jasone: Entre nosotros... sí, yo creo que no eran mis amigas, amigas pero un grupo de chicas con el que salíamos a veces hablaban euskera entre ellas y yo creo que cometían ese error. Y hablaban euskera en la calle, en casa y en el cole y de ikastola, ikastola y yo creo que sí que cometían ese mismo error y tan anchas claro, ellas eran las verdaderas hablantes del idioma, no? si al final...
Jasone: ‘Among us… yeah, I think they were not my friends, friends but [there was] a group of girls that used to hang out with us and among them and I think they used to make that mistake. And they used speak Basque in the street, at home, in school, and used to go to Ikastola (Basque school) I think that they used to make that same mistake, with no care in the world, of course, they were the true speakers of the language, right? At the end of the day…’

Aud. 27: Jasone (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

In this example, Jasone first defines what a “true” speaker of Basque is for her: somebody who learned the language at home and used it actively among friendship circles. Although for her Basque DOM constitutes an error, it is a feature that was allowed to be used by those that constituted “real” Basque speakers, a group that she did not feel that she belonged to. In this respect, one may say that contact features such as DOM were considered legitimate if the speaker itself was also considered a legitimate Basque speaker.

This sentiment was not uncommon among those who considered themselves euskaldunberri (L2-speaker). Aitzol, an advanced Basque speaker who began learning Basque as a foreign language (Model A), shared a similar view on contact features and legitimacy:

(28) Aitzol: Eee batueratik eee gatozenok dugu jo- joera hori, guztia euskaraz hitz egi- esateko nahiz eta artifiziala izan. Baina adibidiez, euskaldunzaharrek, ez bazaiete ateratzen gazte- euskaraz, esaten dute gaztelaniaz, oso natural, eta gero berriz pasatzen dira euskarara, sin inmutarse. […] Baina Batutik gatozenok, egiten duzu hori eta: “hay ze txarto hitz egiten duen!”
Aitzol: ‘Mmm those who come from a Batua background, we have that ha- habit, to say it all in Basque, even if it is artificial. But for instance, euskaldunzaharrak (L1 speakers), if Span-Basque does not come to them they say in Spanish, very natural, and then they go back to Basque, without realizing about it. […] But those who speak Standard, you do that and: “ay! But you speak so badly!”’

Aud. 28: Aitzol (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

In this excerpt, Aitzol makes a link between a contact-induced phenomenon (code-switching) as potentially legitimate feature to a group of Basque speakers, namely that of euskandunzaharrak (L1). This association between legitimacy, contact features and type of speaker resonated among many of the new speakers, who felt that as non-first language users, or non-regional-dialect users, were not allowed to mix languages. These meta-pragmatic on Basque DOM and Basque-Spanish code-switching are in line with Lantto’s work in that new speakers show more purist tendencies than those that are regarded more “authentic”, namely, those who speak a regional variety.

A different reality was experienced by Leticia, who was also born in a Spanish-speaking household and learned Basque through an immersion program in her Spanish-dominant hometown, Basauri. She considered herself a euskaldun [a Basque speaker] and admitted that after few years of not using Basque, she regained fluency when she started dating a native speaker of Basque from Bermeo, a fishing town that has maintained a local variety of Basque. At the interview, the researcher commented on her distinctive way of speaking to which Leticia responded that she was happy that she adopted such speech. When the interviewer asked her whether their conversations would become more Spanish-like with her partner Leticia responded:

(29) Leticia: bai, askotan bai baie bueno bermiotarrez normalien ez da…. o sea, fifty-fifty da o sea, gazteleraz eta euskeraz dana mezklata asi que...
Leticia: ‘yes, often times we do, but well, Bermeo Basque is not… so, it’s fifty-fifty, so it’s a mixture of Spanish and Basque so….’

Aud. 29: Leticia (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

In this excerpt, Leticia acknowledges her “mixed” use of Basque and Spanish in her speech, but attributes such mixture to the fact that she speaks a regional dialect in which language mixture is the unmarked form. The experience of Leticia seems to be different from that of Aitzol, and Jasone, especially when it comes to language mixing. Leticia’s adoption of a regional variety of Basque felt that not only she could consider herself euskaldun [Basque] but also gave her the legitimacy to “mix” Spanish and Basque. Jasone’s reality is similar to some of the speakers in Ortega et al. (2014: 52–53), who felt that they could “afford” to consider themselves euskaldun for having adopted a more regional speech. A similar process occurs with contact-phenomena: one must be considered a legitimate speaker of Basque in order to use contact features. Such legitimacy could be achieved in two forms: either adopting a regional variety (as in the case of Leticia) or learning the language at home (as in the case of Jasone’s friends, who were Batua speakers).

5.3 Pressures of speaking “bad” Basque

Those speakers that considered themselves euskaldunberri not only condemned the fact that they were “not allowed” to mix Basque with Spanish but many of them also felt the pressure of speaking it “incorrectly”. Eneritz was a 40 years-old woman who grew up speaking Spanish at home and only began learning Basque just a few years before I met her. She was taking intensive courses from the boarding summer intensive program in Zornotzako Barnetegia at the time of the interview. She mentioned that she had never imagined herself speaking Basque and that she was surprised that she was making such progress. She explains her process as follows:

(30) Eneritz: ni orain txarto hitz egiten dut. Baina es que ee hona etorri baino lehen, inoiz ez dut euskeraz hitz egin. Inoiz. Nire senarra euskalduna da, no te lo pierdas, eta berarekin, inoiz. Es que a ver, ni inglesez hitz egiten dut….Seinu hizkuntza hitz egiten dut….eta ondo. Baina adibidez, italiera, italiano, txarto hitz egiten dut. Baina trankil eta hitz egiten dut. Baina euskera desberdina da. Ni sentitzen dut presioa haundia. Eta ni gainera independentista naiz. Toma! Eta lotsa handia eman, ematen dit, bai bai bai, lotsa handia ematen dit euskeraz ez jakitea, eta gainera jendea eeee eeee eeee […] pentsatzen du euskalduna naizela. […] Es que, izan da oztopo hori, da nire oztopo eta hemen dago buruan, da psikologiko arazo bat.
Eneritz: ‘Now I speak [Basque] badly. But, the thing is that before I came here I never spoke Basque. Never. My husband is euskaldun, you better believe it, and with him, never. So, I speak English… I speak Sign Language, and well. But for instance, Italian, Italian, I speak it badly. But [I’m] calm, and I speak it. But Basque is different. I feel a lot of pressure. And on top of that, I am an independentist. Just imagine! It embarrasses me, yeah yeah yeah, it embarrasses me not to know Basque, and on top of that people mmmm mmmm mmmm […] think I am euskaldun. […] So it has been that obstacle, it is my obstacle and it is here, in my head, it is a psychological problem.’

Aud. 30: Eneritz (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Eneritz’s feelings of pressure to speak Basque “correctly” cannot be divorced from what she perceives to be euskaldun. The fact that she has a Basque-speaking partner and shares independentist political values clash not only with the idea of speaking Basque, but also speaking it “correctly”. Although she does not define what speaking correctly means to her, her ratings for Standard Basque DOM were significantly lower than “pure” Standard Basque. Her clear sense of potential “imposter syndrome” for not speaking Basque “correctly” indexes that in order for somebody to be considered euskaldun, one has to not only speak Basque “correctly”. Ultimately, Eneritz sees her legitimacy as “Basque” a moral duty, one that is deeply rooted in her linguistic skills.

The next speaker, Illargi, shares a similar sentiment. Illargi is an intermediate level speaker of Basque who began learning Basque a few years before the interview took place. When asked whether she had ever been corrected in her Basque, she shares a story from a time that she was partying with a friend in Markina, a town known for having a distinctive regional variety with high authenticity and legitimacy. Underlined utterances denote switches in Spanish.

(31) Illargi: Baina gero, besteee eeee ez dakit zer esaten ari nintzen eta esan ee esan “Jo! bai bai IruneK, IruneK esan dit!” eta denok, osea, lehengusina eta beste batzuk ee hasi hasi ziren barre egiten “que así no se dice” […] badakit euskara ez da nire lehenengo hizkuntza baina jendea hondatzen dute eta bueno ba normala, ezta? Jo! Eta hara joan eta horrela ((angry face))…eta aputxu bat shock. Bueno ta, ya nengoen… rebota, rebotatute… […] eta ya….alde egin nuen baina errebotatute goizeko 6:30ak, goizeko 6:30etan eta nire laguna “baina zer gertatzen zaizu?”¿Sabes qué Miren? ¡Que estoy hasta los cojones de que me digan que no soy vasca de verdad!¡ Iros a tomar por culo! ¡Meteros Markina por el culo!
Illargi: ‘But then, another eeeee I don’t know what I was saying, and he say … “Damn, yeah yeah, IruneK, IruneK told me!” and all of them, I mean, the cousin and others started laughing “that’s not how you say it!” […] I know that Basque is not my first language but people destroy you but it is normal, right? Man! And then I went there I was like ((angry face))… and in shock a little. Well and I was already… mad, mad….. […] [and then… I left very mad at 6:30, at 6:30 in the morning. And my friend asked “but what’s going on?” “You know what, Miren? I’m fucking sick and tired of being told that I am not a real Basque! Go fuck yourselves, take Markina up your ass!”’

Aud. 31: Illargi (Rodríguez-Ordóñez n.d.)

Illargi recounts a story in which she was being corrected because of her lack of the ergative case marker in “Irune” (as opposed to Irune k ). Such correction, which was publicly done, instigated a laughter among others around her. Illargi clearly shows her annoyance but it is the association she makes between being corrected and “being” Basque that is particularly important here. In her statement, Illargi challenges assumptions regarding perceived grammatical correctness and authenticity and instead implies that one would speak differently by virtue of not having Basque as a first language. Although all speakers omitted the ergative case marker to some extent, these results are consistent with the fact that new speakers lack of its use, who speak the standard variety, becomes more salient. Despite associations between correctness and “Basqueness” in the Basque context, especially as an expectations for new speakers, they are also engaged in challenging some of assumptions about language variation.

These findings are consistent with those found by Ortega and colleagues, in as much as the key value of legitimacy lies in the value of authenticity, which is associated with regional varieties, and/or speakers who learned Basque through family transmission, namely euskaldunzaharrak. It was further revealed the variety one speaks is not enough to gain certain legitimacy, but it is also the means by which it is used. Specifically, it was shown that the use of contact features in Standard Basque, the variety associated with new speakers, was perceived not only as “bad” Basque but also as “less” Basque if used with contact features. These findings led us to the interim conclusion that,, in line with Lantto’s work, the use of certain contact features in Standard Basque indexes “poor” command of the language among new speakers and self-perceptions of using the language incorrectly significantly contribute to their perceptions of self as “less” legitimate speakers of Basque.

6. Conclusions

The goals of the study were: 1) to provide an account on the use of three morpho-syntactic features among new speakers and 2) to explore the linguistic attitudes behind those linguistic features to assess how they contribute in the construction of a linguistic identity. The examination on the use of Basque DOM, ergative case-marking and subject pronoun expression in Basque shows that all these three contact phenomena are found among all types of Basque-Spanish bilinguals explored in the present study: native bilinguals, early sequential bilinguals, and advanced and intermediate speakers of Basque. The use of the variants occurs, however, at varying degrees in different groups with tremendous individual variability. More importantly so is the internal configuration of each variable, which is not equally constrained among the different Basque-Spanish bilinguals, suggesting that new speakers of Basque do not constitute a homogenous speech community. Although the shared linguistic factors that favor the use of each contact phenomena allow us to infer about potential universalities of linguistic phenomena, the different linguistic factors contributing their use are evidence of the multiple mechanisms that different speakers resort to in the production of such morphosyntactic phenomena.

With respect to the social significance of new speakers, the argument presented here is that by examining the attitudes behind such phenomena we can obtain a better understanding on the complexities behind legitimization and authentication processes of new speakers of Basque. Unless new speakers adopt features from regional varieties, their use of perceived contact features in their linguistic repertoires are more likely to contribute to their “unauthentic” members of the Basque-speaking community. This study resonates with Ortega and colleagues’ (2015: 104) who state that “the challenge remains for ‘new’ speakers to gain a greater sense of legitimacy and deeper attachments to Basque that can help them become full participants in Basque-speaking communities”. Our examination of new speakers’ social trajectories and linguistic practices, purist or contact-induced, could allow us to better understand the linguistic reality of Basque speakers in the 21st century.


  1. 1

    Nordwestern (based on works by maix and Tintazul), Blank map of Europe (without disputed regions); additional details, captions, highlights added and map extended to the north by LME, CC BY-SA 4.0.

  2. 2

    Passive bilinguals are understood as speakers who claim to understand the language but do not speak it.

  3. 3

    Note also the steady increase of the native Basque-Spanish bilinguals, referred as euskaldun elebidunak.

  4. 4

    See, for instance, Azpidazki and Euskaljakintza.

  5. 5

    An additional 19 Basque-French bilinguals were also interviewed using both languages. These results will not be reported here.

  6. 6

    A 24-item multiple-choice test was used in order to measure their Basque proficiency, consisting of questions selected from multiple levels of the standardized Basque test, EGA (Euskal Gaitasun Agiria [Certificate of Basque Literacy]). Following the Common European Framework of References for Languages, new speakers were further divided into ESB, advanced (C1) or intermediate (B2).

  7. 7

    Participants provided self-reported measurements on their use of Basque on a 1–5 scale (1=never uses Basque and 5=always uses Basque) in different social situations.

  8. 8

    Comrie’s (2011) criteria for argument structure were used. Bivalent unervative verbs such as begiratu, harrapatu, deitu were excluded from the data because it has been shown that they are syntactically different from true DOM (Odria 2014, 2017; Fernández & Rezac 2016). Other exclusions include: Impersonal sentences (ikusten da [it is seen] or defendidu ein bier da [euskerie] [Basque needs to be defended]) and lexicalized expressions (bilatzen bazu, ezu topaten [if you look for it, you won’t find it], ikusiko dugu [we will see], ikustenzu? [you see?]).

  9. 9

    See Rodríguez-Ordóñez (2020) for coding criteria.

  10. 10

    Because animacy interacts with person and specificity, these factors were combined in order to avoid collinearity effects.

  11. 11

    The native group was statistically significant compared to ESB (β = -1.78, z = -4.061, p < 0.001) and advanced speakers (β = -1.90, z = -3.52, p < 0.01).

  12. 12

    *** represents statistical significance at p<0.001, ** at p<0.01 and * at p<0.05.

  13. 13

    Basque has also been considered an “active” language (Levin 1989). Recent proposals have argued that Basque is not an ergative language, but a language that presents marked case (Rezac, Albizu, & Etxepare 2014) or “marked nominative” (Arregi 2017).

  14. 14

    For a discussion on the variation on auxiliary selection and verbal agreement see Berro & Etxepare (2017).

  15. 15

    Only obligatory contexts were examined. Thus, unergative verbs that may exhibit variation (dantzatu [to dance]) were excluded from analysis.

  16. 16

    For the transcription conventions see the table in the appendix.


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Related articles/sources in LME

(Aud. 1) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ni-k Mikel ikusi d-u-t. [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 2) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ni-k Mikel-e-rii ikusi d-i-oi-t. [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 3) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Le he visto a Mikel. [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 4) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. A ver guri eskolarekin eraman zi-zi-…z-i-gu-te-n [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 5) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. O sea unibertsitatean edo kontratatu d-i-zu-te…[audio + transcript].

(Aud. 6) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. e… bere familia berari bidali z-i-o-n[audio + transcript].

(Aud. 7) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Zeuri gainera ezagutu n-i-zui-n ba hamen Gernika [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 8) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. kontratua hilabete bat, baina gero amaitzen bazaizu kontratu hori berriro hartzen dizute berriro [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 9) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ni-k liburu-a-ø irakurri d-u-t [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 10) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ni-k etsi d-u-t [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 11) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ni-ø iritsi n-aiz [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 12a) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. eta andereinoa-ø galdetu ein dozten [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 12b) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. ta gainera bera-ø ere barre egiten du [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 13a) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Karo ZUK, hasten zarenean edo ikasten [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 13b) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. ba ba NIK, ezin naiz izan andereinoa [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 14) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. sei hilabeteko umea-ø eee ez du ezer esaten [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 15) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. ba igual etorkizunean ni-ø bere laguntza beharko du [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 16a) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Nik Joni artikuluak eman d-i-zki-o-t [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 16b) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. [eERG] [eDAT] [eABS] eman d-i-zki-o-t [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 17) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Lagun asko dakatenak, harek egunero urten bier d-a-be! [audio + transcript (originally published in Rodríguez-Ordóñez & Sainmaza-Lecanda 2018: 530)].

(Aud. 18) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Izas and Jone [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 19) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Eta nik seme-alabak badau, eee badaukat, e… nik, nik nahi dut ingelesez edo euskarazhitz egitea. Nik uste dut eee txikitan ba... [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 20) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. zuk esan duzun moduan, ∅ munduan bat aukeratuko bagenu ba bera esan duen bezala osea. [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 21) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. eta ni pentsatu nuen "bueno ba ∅ nahi duzun moduan, niri… pr!" [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 22) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. ya, zuk daukazu zure bizitza etxean [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 23) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Peio [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 24) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Unax [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 25) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Jasone [audio + transcript].

(Aud. 26) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Ainara [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 27) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Jasone II [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 28) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Aitzol [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Aud. 29) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Leticia [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 30) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Eneritz [audio]. Private collection.

(Aud. 31) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. N.d. Illargi [audio + transcript]. Private collection.

(Fig. 2) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Means and individual variation of Basque DOM [figure]. Private research material.

(Fig. 3) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Means and individual variation of ergative case marking (-k) in transitive and unergative subjects [figure]. Private research material.

(Fig. 4) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Means and individual variation of ergative case marking (-k) in unaccusative subjects [figure]. Private research material.

(Fig. 5) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Use of ergative -k marker according to person of transitive subjects [figure]. Private collection.

(Fig. 6) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Mean values of omission rates of ergative –k according to phonological context [figure]. Private research material.

(Fig. 7) Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso. 2016. Means and individual variation of Basque SPE [figure]. Private research material.

Camino, Iñaki. 2019. An overview of Basque dialects

Cenoz, Jasone. 2008. The status of Basque in the Basque country

García Gurrutxaga, Luisa. 2019. Education in the Basque autonomous community: from monolingualism to bilingualism and towards multilingual education

Hualde, José Ignacio. 2020. New Basque varieties: accentuation and grammatical number in Standard Basque and local dialects

Jauregi, Oroitz & Irantzu Epelde. 2019. Standard Basque

Martinez de Luna, Iñaki. 2020. The contemporary flourishing of the Basque Language

Oñederra, Miren Lourdes. 2016. Standardisation of Basque: From grammar (1968) to pronunciation (1998)

External sources

(Fig. 1) Eusko Jaurlaritza. 2016. (Types of Basque speakers in BAC according to age group in 1991 and 2016) [figure]. In Eusko Jaurlaritza [Basque Government], V. Inkesta soziolinguistikoa [report]. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Eusko Jaurlaritzaren Argitalpen Zerbitzu Nagusia.

Euskaljakintza. N.d. Atsotitzak lantzen [website]. Euskaljakintza [website]. (accessed 14 March 2020).

Universidad del País Vasco. N.d. Azpidazki [website]. (accessed 14 March 2020).


Transcription conventions

underlined text in Spanish
italics text in Basque or English
boldface first mention of subject



Kategorie Category
Language Family / Isolate / Basque