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Hemen zaude: Hasiera / Blogak / Ingelesen hilerria / The English Cemetery

English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

Welsh and Basque languages facing modernity

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/06/03 07:44

Next week (June 9, monday) there's a seminar in Oxford: 'Out of Paradise: Welsh and Basque Languages Facing Modernity (1800-2008)'. The purpose is to analyse the social history of Basque and Welsh over the last two centuries. This will take place in the European Studies Centre at 70 Woodstock road in Oxford, and you've got the program in this link, below the intro in Basque.

Facebook in welsh

I don't know if in books written over the next decades, or in seminar at the end of the 21st century they will mention it, but, here's a little side note: Yesterday Facebook in Catalan was unveiled, among other 10 language versions of that big social networking site of the web. And alltogether with that, the partial localisation in Basque and Welsh are also ready to be used. Facebook uses a user-driven localisation and translation system, and volunteers so far have only translated about 20% of the content into Basque and Welsh, but even at this level, main menus and messages are quite decently presented, and the emails that you receive are also finely tuned (at least in Basque). In order to see this partially translated versions, and also to contribute, log on to Facebook and add the Translation app.

facebook in Basque

BTW, I've uploaded these screenshots above to the the Minority Languages / Linguistic Diversity pool in Flickr.

Your TomTom speaks Basque

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/05/30 07:15

Some friends in this community ( that hosts the English Cemetery gathered to make TomTom car navigation systems talk in Basque. The recording session (using an Ikea sofa as isolation) took place in our office, and all was volunteer. The four voices were then processed, and here they are. 3 men, 1 woman. 2 talk in standard Basque, 2 in the local dialect.

If you want to hear it, you won't hurt your TomTom, you can switch to Basque from your language just for a try, and then return to your mother tongue or something else than you can understand. There are 4 zipped files you can download from the Deskargatu links in this page. Unzip and you'll find a triplet of files with these extensions: .chk, .bmp eta .vif. Connect your TomTom to your computer using the USB link, and place those 3 files to the voices folder of your TomTom. Disconnect from the computer, switch on the navigator, and change voice to the Basque speaker. It also works in mobile devices (phones, PDAs) that have a GPS and run on Windows Mobile with the TomTom software add-on (see a video of a demo in a PDA).

The images are of the speakers themselves. I think the most distinctly and ethnically Basque head is the one pertaining to Mikel Iturria a.k.a. Iturri, a fellow bilingual blogger (Basque / Spanish).

However, if you're going to use the TomTom to drive thru the Basque Country, be aware and don't confide too much on Google Maps for route planning, or for your GPS car-navigation system to guide you correctly: one mayor highway crossing the Basque Country, the AP-1, is shown as complete and used for traffic calculation by Teleatlas (company bought by TomTom recently), but half the road is not finished yet.

I've heard a car GPS guiding us towards a non-existant road near Arrasate, for instance. Look at the whole route in Google Maps, and take in mind that south of Arrasate, all this piece of road (bigger map) is not built. Not in 2008, sure. Teleatlas competitor Navteq, by the way, has the road right, as can be seen in Yahoo Maps (which uses Navteq cartography).

So... it's also time to promote OpenStreetMap again! My friend Gari Araolaza, proud mapper of my hometown, will give the 1st ever OSM seminar in Basque next july, with real street mapping included.

Archuleta the oikonym

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/05/23 07:14

David Archuleta lost his American Idol 2008 final, but nevertheless he is truly a TV and music sensation in the USA. And hey, Archuleta, that's a Basque name! And from Eibar, to be sure. Yes, Basque surnames tend to be oikonyms, that is, house-names. As of today there is no entry for oikonymy in the English Wikipedia, but it can be considered a branch of Onomastics, the study of proper names, just as Toponimy is the study of placenames. So Archuleta is an oikonym, and the very single house behind it is here, a farmhouse from my hometown: Aritxulueta (its current Basque name and spelling).

The oldest registered form of the name is Areschuloeta, from a document of 1498. Around 1600, there were Aritxulueta family branches in Sevilla and the Americas already. It seems some of those branches engaged in the military expansion of the Spanish empire, some under the name Arizulueta.

As for the US, one captain of the Spanish armies, Ascencio de Arechuleta (born in Eibar in 1572), took part in Juan de Oñate's expedition in 1598. It seems he (or his siblings) settled here, because the name has been well established in the current US southwest since then, among hispanics and mixed native populations. In the 17th century, the surname already lost the 1st 'e' in the name.

Info extracted for message exchanges in a local mailing list in Basque.

The Emirate of Eibar

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/05/14 05:10

The past two years, I had the chance to assist to the geo week in Silicon Valley, centered around Where 2.0. Not there, this year. Other plans stuck me at home, in Eibar. So, with envy but curiosity, I'll follow the events thru reports in blogs. Today's news that Yahoo launches a new Geo-API very similar to the Geonames webservices has attracted my interest. I'm more inclined towards the openness of Geonames, but, it's too early to be severe with Yahoo. However, after looking for Eibar, where I'm now, the where-on-earth-ID of my hometown places it in an Emirate (WTF?!)


One thing that I would like to be added to this Yahoo! Internet Location Platform is reverse geocoding. A query with latitude and longitude that would return the closest WOEID items, or show the bounding boxes to which that point pertains.

Bertsolaritza, improvised poetry

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/04/22 18:10

Oral Tradition, a scholarly journal by the University of Missouri, has published an issue fully devoted to Bertsolaritza, the Basque improvised poetry phenomenon. Several Basque contributors fill most of the number, but as an introduction for foreigners, perhaps you should also read the outsider view by John Miles Foley, the director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition and the Center for eResearch at the University of Missouri. That article, like all the others, is available as a PDF in the journal's website.

In this video from, a site powered by Plone, one of the many versions Bertso-making can have: question and reply, in a bertso-dinner. The tall guy reads his pre-writen lines (around the topic of Streap-tease), and the bertsolari, Jexux Mari Irazu, improvises his replies immediatly.

Basque mailing-list turns 10

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/04/18 10:17

Ten years ago, in a day like today, I found a service called Makelist while surfing the web. Create and manage your own mailing lists! This needs to be tried immediatly, I thought. I needed a motive (build the list around some topic) and some email addresses to add. Ok, some friends from my hometown Eibar. And Eibartarrak (Eibarreans, or so) was thus created, with this introductory message and thread, a mailing list with very simple moderation rules (you introduce yourself with name and surname, archives are public, discussion is in Basque).
It was not the 1st Basque-language list (there was one from 1996 that later disappeared), neither the 1st Basque list of the web: Basque-L, which was mainly in English, was born in some Listserv machine of New York in 1993. I was a subscriber to that list for several years, but I have lost contact, I don't even know if Basque-L is alive and if it is, if there's any practical way to subscribe, check its archives... Other Basque-language lists have been created over the past years, but of the surviving ones, Eibartarrak is the veteran, and it's also probably the most lively and interesting one.
The Eibartarrak mailing-list has been the basis of all my Internet activities over the last ten years. My company, my everyday work of today, raised from contacts made in the list. My confidence in the Internet as a communication and social tool has its roots in this list: we the users are the agents of change in this era.

Makelist evolved into eGroups which evolved into Yahoogroups. It's a fascinating story. However, we escaped from that locked-in environement, migrated the list to a Mailman-based platform (localised in Basque), and ported the archives to Gmane., this website, was created with the effort of listmembers. The 1st Basque-language blog community of the web was born here, pushed by listmembers, in 2004. As for the future, no doubts about the direction: to infinity and beyond. There will be tools to guide us in that navigation too. Some listmembers will meet this afternoon to hack the TomTom car navigation system and record Basque voices for the devices. And that will be made public afterwards.

Wikipedia's 25000 Basque articles and Creative Commons

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/04/13 08:24

Recently, I've joined the ranks of the Wikipedians. I've come to think that this project is important. Particularly, for a minority language like Basque. So I've started to edit a little bit in Basque articles, and somehow less in Spanish. Very minor anonymous edits in English, so far. But I'm a lazy editor, that's the true. However, there's more people around, so last sunday Basque Wikipedia reached its 25,000th article. Great!

I'm still trying to understand the rules and mechanisms of the Wikipedia. Regarding the licensing of its content, I received with hope the announcement of its future compatibility with Creative Commons. I need to investigate more about that. It seems that Wikipedia content might be used elsewhere with a CC-BY-SA license, but: will content produced elsewhere with CC-BY-SA be ready for direct and legitimate insertion in Wikipedia?

The rules for images in Wikimedia Commons are strict, and uploading of Flickr content is permitted in the open CC versions. This graph above shows it clearly, and it also helps to understand that ND (non-derivative) and NC (non-commercial) licensing are incompatible with free content. I am somehow disappointed with the low understanding of the NC thing among young Basque content producers: people embrace the Non-Commercial line fullheartedly, as if that meant rejecting commercialism, explotation and the trends of savage globalization. They don't realize it's just the opposite: the non-commercial prohibition is the basis of propietary software or content as dreamt by DRM zealots. It means the exclusive right to concentrate all posible benefits of knowledge creation in one point, instead of fostering the spread of wealth among everybody, everywhere. Anyway, I wonder if that model found in Commons for images is appliable to textual information at large. Or geographic information. For instance. Tagzania, OpenStreetMap or Geonames, they all have defined their info in free terms using Creative Commons; does this make their content fit for Wikipedia reuse?

We'll see. The new label that Creative Commons launched, Approved for Free Cultural Works, related to the Wikipedia announcement, is a positive step towards sheding light on the issue of licenses.

Basques in Japan

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/04/01 10:05

I've been two weeks in Japan in holidays. What a marvelous country: it's well blogged about, so I won't bother anyone with my accounts. We didn't find any Basques in our journey, just our hosts, the Teshima-Berriozabal family, who were so extremely kind to invite us to their country, and to their own home in metro-Tokyo. Paulo Berriozabal is a Basque blogger in Tokyo, blogs in Spanish and Basque, and it's through that blog, that we happened to know each other.

Ikurriña Tokyon

While in Tokyo, we did find a Basque flag, by pure chance. It was in a bar called Vinuls just at the Ueno JR station that presented itself as a Spanish tavern. I've checked the web, and it seems Vinuls started as a Spanish or Catalan bar in the Ginza area... Now it seems it has been expanded into a chain.

Peru is a good model for pictures. So is Lili, my daughter. And the setting, Japan, is perfect to click and click and click...

Declare independence

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/03/12 12:35

Zapatero got a second term in last sunday's Spanish general election. Results are quite indifferent to me now. Just three days before the polls, ETA killed Isaias Carrasco, a modest Basque worker who had been a councilman for PSOE, Zapatero's party, a few years ago. It's been a senseless crime. Made in our name, in the name of Basque freedom. Please, do not save me, you brave patriots.

And yet, I think we deserve a better future. An independent future.

Last year, in Björk's latest concert in the Basque Country, she chose one particular song to close the show: Declare Independence. Was it a political wink to the local audience? I'm not sure yet. But now I know that Björk does use the song with clear political intentions, at least in other countries.

This report states that in Japan recently, she dedicated the song to Kosovo. And in Shanghai, she cried Tibet, Tibet, after singing it, which will bring her problems if she plans to act again in China.

Besides, it seems that the song itself was written with Greenland and the Faroe Islands in mind, still attached to Denmark: as Iceland was until the 20th century. Formal independence was granted in 1918. Full independence (no further roles for the Danish royals there), with the transformation of Iceland into a republic, happened in 1944.

The song's lyrics say: "Don't let them do that to you. Raise your flag!" There's an interesting point there. Spain has refused to recognize Kosovo's independence in the basis that it is an "unilateral" declaration. Stupid argument, warmly received by Serb hardliners in Belgrad. Of course, Moratinos, the spanish foreign affair minister, is afraid that others may follow up. But, are there any other ways to declare independence? Not letting others decide by you. That's independence.

Recently, one of the prosecuted in the Egunkaria case was asked in an interview: How should Basque authorities and political parties protect you from the Inquisitiorial trial that you are going to face in Madrid? They should do as in Kosovo, declare independence. I think he's completely right.

We should, as well, declare our indepedence of mind from ETA. If we are to survive.

Introducing Tagzania Services

Luistxo Fernandez 2008/02/28 12:36

I'm not longer an employee at CodeSyntax, but at Tagzania Services, a spin-off that has sprouted from it. We created a couple of years ago, and that has led to its own dedication and has also brought new customers and projects to our web development company, a bunch of new activities that might be labelled geography 2.0.

So, there we go, with a couple of new domains ( &, and an extra blog in English about these new services. We remain in the same office space of CodeSyntax (which has been featured in this spanish blog just after they posted about start-up office pics of international fame). Anyway, we are expanding to the office space behind that green wall. Someone's got to digg a hole there. Then we'll have to decide which part of the double-office gets ownership of the company motto: KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.


Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

El cementerio de los ingleses


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