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Accomplices of the Basque Country in Vitoria

  • The protagonists of this report reside in Vitoria-Gasteiz and speak in minority languages such as the Amazon, the Galician, the miracle and the Guarani respectively. Soumia Berkani Ben Yahia, Toni Cid Armanda, Altaf Hussain, and Sonia and Delcy Godoy Bizzozzero. Do they have more tools to understand the situation of the Vasco-speaking community?
Soumia Berkani Marokoko iparraldekoa da, Nador herrikoa. Tamazigha hitz egiten du. Marokon hiru milioi hiztunen hizkuntza da. Gasteizen alabak euskaraz ikas dezan ahalegintzen da. Argazkia: Dos por Dos.
Soumia Berkani Marokoko iparraldekoa da, Nador herrikoa. Tamazigha hitz egiten du. Marokon hiru milioi hiztunen hizkuntza da. Gasteizen alabak euskaraz ikas dezan ahalegintzen da. Argazkia: Dos por Dos.

Vitoria-Gasteiz has two official languages, Basque and Spanish, as well as the possibility of learning English and French in schools. But more languages are spoken in the city. Surveys conducted by the City Hall have shown that in the streets of Gasteiz, among our families, more than 50 languages can be heard. Polls and numbers, in themselves, are usually quite cold, they do not report feelings, nor the defense of power relations, the history of this or another language of the world. Not all languages are treated in the same way, there are hegemonic or majority languages and minority languages, and then there are cultures that receive greater international recognition, which

are easily identifiable, and others that, being disparaged in the territory of origin, go unnoticed in

our streets, more invisible. The journalist who subscribes to this report wanted to know whether the socio-linguistic reality of Euskal Herria, the challenges of Euskera and the situations of discrimination are easier and easier to understand by minority language speakers. We went out to look for accomplices to get the Basque forward and talked to the citizens of Vitoria. They have not given a number, they have talked about their experience and their personal view. The result of these talks reminds us of how broad and rich the world is, but not only that, but also small portions of mirrors that can cope with the situation of the Basque country and that could serve to better understand the linguistic community of the Basques. In a city where many worlds fit, they speak the Tamazigh language at the house of Soumia Berkani


Yahia. Tamazigha, according to Wikipedia, is a variant of the Amazon, with about three million speakers in the Kingdom of Morocco. This explains the socio-linguistic situation of his people: "I am from northern Morocco, from the small town of Nador. The official language of Morocco is Arabic, but in some areas several languages are spoken, for example, in my house we speak Tamazigha. It's a very different language, and very difficult, like here the Basque language -- it's almost the same."

Toni Cid is Galician. The Galician also has about three million speakers. Together with Portuguese, it forms a single linguistic system, the Galician-Portuguese, whose similarities

are remarkable. But don't think Cid studied in Galician. He was born in Venezuela, in a large community of lost migrants. "I was born in Venezuela, where my parents emigrated. My mother and father were talking to me about Galician. At home in Galician and on the street in Spanish. However, in Venezuela there were many Galicians and there was a very important Galician center and we had a lot of relationship between us." Altaf

Hussain arrived in

Vitoria a few years ago. "I'm from Kaxmir side of Pakistan, from Azad capital. Azad means 'Free Kaxmir.' It is a country calling for independence, divided between Pakistan, India and China. 70 years ago he had his own government. Now we are calm, there is no conflict, only will." Hussain has brought four languages from his country: "I speak of Mirpuriz in the family; it is the language of our country. I also speak to the punjab. I learned the two languages on the street, as a child. Then I studied the cast at school, the official language of Pakistan. At school, I also studied English, but the languages of my house don't. Our language is not forbidden, but it is not taught." After talking to Hussain, we've been looking for data about the language he mentioned and it's hard to find anything. In the end, we have learned that, according to the experts, the language ‘mirpuri’ enters the Pahari-pothwari language group, and that the variety ‘mirpuri’ is closely linked to the Kashmir identity, where territory and language are also united. Calculating how many speakers you have is hard. For example, the main origin of emigration to England from Pakistan is this territory, and admiration is the second most spoken mother tongue in England, after English. In the park of Arana de Vitoria-Gasteiz, a relatively special type of volleyball, widespread among Paraguay, has become a meeting point of the Paraguayan community in the evenings. Paraguay is a very special town in South America in terms of languages, because there, along with Spanish, the Guarani language is also official. It is one of the few states in South
America that officially has an original language. In Arana Park we met the sisters Sonia and Delcy Godoy Bizzozzero, Guarani speakers. "We are from the countryside of Paraguay, from the countryside, as it is said, and we speak of the guarani. In the villages there is talk mainly of the Guarani. In the city not so much." This language

has in Paraguay six and a half million speakers, and beyond the borders of Paraguay you can count another two and a half million. Minority languages in education All the talks talk about how they have learned the language, under what conditions and what literacy possibilities and what not; and all of them show discrimination in favour of the hegemonic language in their own country. Berkani, for example, learned to write tamazigha in a

popular association, not at school: "As it happens here, it was in an association created by people who defend our language. In school you learn Arabic and French, but at least in my time you didn't study tamazigha; now you teach, I don't know." Hussain of Kaxmir cannot read or write in his language: "We do not know how to write in our language, nor do my parents. Grandparents did, because when Kaxmir was an independent country, he studied in school." For Galician Cid, now things are better in Galicia than when he lived there: "We had two subjects in Galician, Galician literature and social sciences, and on the street we did not speak as much as now. Now yes, there has been a change. Language policies have finally worked. As it has worked here, with a lot of effort and a lot of money, in Galicia too... with much less effort and much less money". In Paraguay, Guarani is also learned at school, but, as in other places, it is not enough to rise to the height of the hegemonic language. Sonia Godoy tells us the situation: "We learned as a subject in school. I remember there were other subjects in Guarani, but then they took off because there were people who complained -- but it should be the other way around, it's our language. Some of our fellow Vitorians also don't speak to their children in Guarani, it's as if they give up their language." And Delcy, the young sister, recalled that "we learned Spanish when we went to the city, when we were 6 and 12 years old. We went to live there, and I remember that when I entered the first grade there, I didn't know how to speak Spanish and everybody laughed at me. I was crying." The ailments we share

are inevitable when talking to minority language speakers; contempt, discrimination or memory do not vary from continent to continent.

Cid says in Galicia "before, if you spoke of Galician, it was the donkey of the people, and that has changed." The

Godoy sisters talk about the official language of the public sphere: "It is not like here, here we ask to know Basque to work in the public sphere. There, for example, my father goes to a bank, talks about Guarani, and whoever works there does not answer him, or says "I don't understand him sir; I don't talk about Guarani." As for his country's situation in North Africa, Souima says, "I'm not against a stranger coming to my city and working there, but having at least a basic level to be able to talk to people, for example, when my mother goes to a post office, there's nobody to translate, and she feels less than them, it's hard. At least, respect, do not speak that way, do not make you think it is less than you. Even when you go to the doctor, it's hard to make you understand why it hurts, can you imagine the situation? It is essential to be able to understand what hurts a citizen." Hussain is living with another attitude the situation of her language. Even though you can't read or write with admiration, you're happy: "I think the situation of our language is good, people are not substituting for molten purity. We can speak smoothly, most do not know how to write, but

the street you will hear very few people in Urdués. Most people talk about admiration or puncture. It does not make me sad not to be able to read in my language; it serves me to speak with my family, to speak with each other. I talk to them every day, we have

a very close relationship. Now I want to learn Spanish because I have to live here." Sonia and Delcy, on the other hand, have suffered disparities in their country: "If you don't speak well in Spanish, you don't have equal opportunities. My mother, for example, said, "Imagine if I had finished school!" He was very quick, but he only studied in school up to 5th. I was great in mathematics, in language -- I didn't speak Spanish very well." Delcy is happy with the change in Vitoria: "I remember the first time -- I arrived from

Madrid and there was snow until the generations. And I remember perfectly well that when my sister went to the bus terminal, we fell, it was

impossible to walk. In Paraguay the maximum cold is 16 degrees. I remember everything was white. I really like the weather here, I like the cold. In Paraguay it's too hot, it's disappointing." Like Delcy, Berkani likes time here: "At first I struggled to get used to time, but now the other way around; when I wake up and see the darkness, I like the gray sky! Hearing the rain, going in the rain -- you feel protected, Vitoria is very welcoming." On the contrary, Hussain found the first few months difficult in Europe: "We had no bad life there. I don't belong to a poor family, we have a lot of land. Those who come here are not the poorest. I left my village because I wanted more. There we say that 'eyes do not comply'. I first came to England. From England, then to Barcelona, and I thought, "I don't know where I came from": we lived in a place that looked like a grave. I was from a small town, no noise, quiet... and was in the Raval of Barcelona. There's noise there 24 hours." The Vitorian sons Sonia, Berkani and
Cid have children born in Vitoria. Berkani is sad because he

has not taught his daughter the tamazig: "I speak only in Arabic with my daughter, because it took him a little bit to start talking and I was afraid he was not going to create confusion. And it makes me sad that Berber [tamazigha] has not been taught. So here I say to everyone who has a language: 'Grab it, don't miss it.' Basque, for example. And they ask me, why does Euskera defend? Because it's their language, and because you're here, because you're among them -- that's also happening in my city, I get it." Berkani does his best to let her daughter learn Basque, but in Vitoria it is not easy. "When I went to the doctor I said, 'It doesn't hurt, but forget that I'm here and ask my daughter in Basque.' And he was surprised. I also told my daughter's professor, 'You here in the community don't help.' If you meet my daughter on the street, speak to her in Basque. In Catalonia, when I go with my sister, they speak Catalan, with the doctor, in the supermarket… I liked it a lot! The children there, among them, speak Catalan! I believe that outside the school activities in Basque

are of great help. I always try to point out the child in an activity in Basque, although he tells me, 'Mom, I speak quieter in Spanish'. 'No, daughter, if you can't find a word, nothing happens, say it in Spanish, but try to speak in Basque', I say. Cid also made it very clear: "I took out a position as a state official and had to come here. Here I met my wife. When she became pregnant, I decided to start studying Basque. I felt the need because I want to help myself in school. I spent five years in the Basque Country, got out B2, and I'm with that, I haven't continued. Then it helped me change my job. In 2020, I took a stand at the Provincial Council. It's

been great." "We've always been clear that we wanted to take our children to model D. Because we didn't have a good foundation and we couldn't help them a lot; we decided we had to strengthen the language issue and we had to include it in model D." Sonia also has two children, one is small, but the other is 6 years old and is in a public school in Vitoria: "Yes, he speaks Basque, and with his cousin he also speaks Basque, [has a smile in his mouth] and with his best friend, in Arabic!" Cid believes that education here works very well and that her children have a good level of Euskera. "I think language policies work. And in the generations to come, almost 100 percent of children will know Basque, they will understand." Moreover, they are surprised by the good level they have: "It is noticeable that the ikastola works, uses... and they have a good attitude towards education. She's better. The child, depending

where he/she is, accepts or not the Basque. At ikastola he speaks in Basque without
problems or in the social house. I thought that the linguistic option depended on the person, that is, if I speak to my son in Spanish, I will always have to speak to him in Spanish, because he will not admit to speaking in Basque, but I have realized that this is not the case, but it depends on the place. If I'm inside the ikastola, I can speak in Basque and it answers me well, but on the street it says, "Father, here you don't become Basque." Interestingly, they relate spaces with a language. In Galicia I related more
to the person, if someone spoke to me about Galician, about Galician; if they did me in Spanish, I did it in Spanish". Everyone wants to stay with us. Berkani would like to look for a good job, but he feels it is because of the veil that suffers prejudice and that is why he has more limited work possibilities. That's sad. Hussain also intends to stay here because he has built a dignified life, because almost all his family is in Europe and he does not lack work. Sonia and Delcy are also clear. "Here you have a better future, a better quality of life," says Sonia, and adds: "We don't have money, but we have quality of life." And his sister is also clear: "Even from where you look at him, in every way, people live better here."

Cid also agrees and

has gone deeper: "My family is from here and they feel from here and it doesn't make me sad. I'm Galician, I feel Galician, but my people are here. If you go to a place where there's a better standard of living, as you're better, it's easy to adapt. And to me that clarifies the decision, because Galicia is worse, because it is much more delayed, and because there is a

lot of emigration; I am a reflection of that, my parents went to Venezuela, the grandfather to Cuba… But I will not come back because I am in a better place. At all levels, I believe."


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