At the end of the XIX century the Third French Republic has turned the French language into the main symbol of the nation and was conducting a policy to integrate rural areas into the official and main culture. In the Basque region, the clergy was a fervent defender of the Basque and was using it to confront republican agents. Clergy men were indeed alphabetizing peasants in a "non-regulated" way. Although Zuberoa was a multilingual region (Basque mostly, but French, Béarnais and even Spanish were also spoken), we assume that there existed a context of diglossia, understood as Claude Hagège define the concept of “bilinguisme inégalitaire”, in which French and the culture related to it had an increasingly prestige.
This paper aims at explaining from the point of view of the "history from below" the strategies used and developed by the lower classes to adapt to the historical context they were getting through. In order to explain that, a sample of 290 letters from different collections of Basque migrants to America as well as letters from soldiers of the First World War have been analysed, resulting in a differentiation of the use of the various languages according to several factors, such as the relation between the sender and the recipient, the subject addressed and the social class. Nevertheless, differentiation does not mean inflexibility, in such a way that the contexts in which languages are used may overlap.
Elorri Arcocha, Public University of Navarre, Spain
Mikel Bueno, Public University of Navarre, Spain
About the Presenter(s)
Ms Elorri Arcocha is a University Doctoral Student at Public University of Navarre in Spain
See this presentation on the full schedule – Monday Schedule