The increase in Basque speakers in the last 30 years has been due in large part to ‘new speakers’ or euskaldunberri, a term that will be used here to refer to those who have learned the language by means other than family transmission. While very significant in numbers, to date this group has not been the object of much study. Little is known about their attitudes and motivations, how they perceive themselves as Basque speakers, or their language use and transmission patterns. Acquiring answers to these questions is of strategic importance for developing an effective evidence-based language policy for the future. This article presents the results of a qualitative study of new speakers. Drawing on data from focus groups and interviews, the central goal of the article is to examine how new speakers of differing profiles perceive and locate themselves with respect to the popularly used labels for “new” and “native” Basque speakers and the ideologies of authenticity and legitimacy that seem to shape these perceptions. The analysis shows that learning the language alone, even to a high degree of competence, does not guarantee a view of themselves as true and genuine speakers of Basque.
©2015 Ortega et al., published by De Gruyter
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