Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Mar 7 13:35:48 UTC 2003

>>From Linguist List:

Message 2: Today Basque is "an even more" endangered language

Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2003 10:29:45 +0000
From: Eneko Agirre <eneko at>
Subject: Today Basque is "an even more" endangered language

Dear colleagues

We know that this kind of message is not common in this mailing list,
but we would like to inform you about a direct attack to the Basque
culture, which has a direct influence in our research efforts.

The only Basque language newspaper in the world ''Egunkaria'' was
temporarily closed on February the 20th and 10 top representatives of
Basque culture arrested by a Spanish judge, under allegations of
collaboration with terrorists. We want to stress that there has not
been any trial yet; they have been held in protective custody. Before
even finding the newspaper employees guilty, the judge decided to
close down the newspaper. The closing of the newspaper is a preventive
temporary measure, but Spanish law allows the closing to go on for
five years. Even after a few weeks the newspaper becomes financially

It is worth mentioning that Egunkaria has the support of different
political sensibilities in the Basque Society, and it is also well known
in the International Community. The vast majority of Basque society does
not agree with the closing of Egunkaria (list of supporters in The International
Federation of Journalists (,
Reporters Without Borders
( and the president of the
European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages, among others, have also
criticized the measure.

Being Basque an endangered language (around 800.000 speakers) under a
normalization process, currently available corpora are small in size, and
one of the most promising sources for our research efforts was Egunkaria.
There is also an English version of it that would allow us to research on
parallel corpora. One of the biggest linguistic corpora available for
Basque is the compilation of the daily issues since 2000. Language
technology was being used to search in their online news database
(unfortunately, their internet edition was also closed). A document
classification research project was underway, as well as a research
project on a pragma-rhetorical analysis of the contents of EGUNKARIA.

We do not want to initiate a debate. If you want more information or to
express your sympathy, please refer to

Today Basque is ''an even more'' endangered language.

Research groups and companies working on Human Language Technology
from the Basque Country supporting this message:

   AHOLAB group (
   DELi group (
   ILCLI group on semantics, pragmatics and rhetoric
   IXA NLP group (

   Code & Syntax (
   Diana Teknologia (
   Eleka (
   Elhuyar (
   Hizkia Informatika (
   UZEI (

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