'Linguae Vasconum Primitiae'
'Linguae Vasconum Primitiae' contains a modest collection of poems, some religious, others love poetry, one autobiographical, and two extolling the virtues of Basque and its worthiness.
'Linguae Vasconum Primitiae' is the first example of written work in Basque. Photo: EITB
A translation into English of a book of verses considered to be the first example of written work in Basque language was presented on Monday in the headquarters of the regional council of Bizkaia.
Published in Bordeaux in 1545, the book contains a modest collection of poems, some religious, others love poetry, one autobiographical, and two extolling the virtues of Basque and its worthiness through publication to be included with the other languages of the world.
Written in the Lower Navarrese dialect of Basque, the poems have found enduring fame among the Basques for their celebration of the Basque language. Included alongside the seminal translation by Mikel Morris Pagoeta is a comparative rendition of the original Basque. The book also includes a foreword by Pello Salaburu, the preface to the 1995 edition by Patxi Altuna, and an introduction by Beñat Oyharçabal.
The translation falls within the classic series collection of the Center of Basque studies of the University of Reno, Nevada. The Basque Classics Series seeks to provide English translations of key texts and authors in the cultural development of the Basque Country.
The Series encompasses anonymous works authored by the "community" to the texts of Modern Age polemicists authored in the defense of Euskara (the Basque language) and Basque political institutions. The Basque Classics Series encompasses the publication of anthologies and monographs of key near contemporary scholars of outstanding and enduring worth who have made original and serious contributions to the understanding of Basque history, linguistics, and culture.
While Basque has a rich oral tradition, examples of written work earlier than the sixteenth century are rare. Other examples are the translation of the New Testament by Joannes Leizarraga in 1560 or the manuscript written between 1564 and 1567 by Araba-born noble, Joan Pérez de Lazarraga, which contains several verses, epic poem-songs known as cantares, poems of unrequited love, pastoral stories, a long mythological tale, and descriptions of Agurain.