ON THE RELATIVE AUTONOMY OF LANGUAGE CORPUS

Joxe Manuel Odriozola

2018-10-25, BERRIA.

Abstract:

Joxe Manuel Odriozola notes that the ideas and considerations presently aiming to understand and adress the relationship between the corpus of Basque language and its political status are not relevant at all. The assumption of Basque language quality and its status as autonomous domains is a complete delusion. It stands for a position that assimilates Basque language normalization and corpus regulation with progress of standard Basque and the alleged social normalization of Basque. Even worse, it ignores the servitude in all respects shown by corpus planning to status planning. As Fishman would put it, it would tantamount to the ideological strategy of the «ethnic innocent», in which many of us, people and social agents, may play the role of the «ethnic innocent» should we not understand the dividing line between corpus, or Basque language cohesion, and status, or language policy. In this way, political officials in the autonomic administration may hold a special interest in covering up the failure of Basque language policy with the advances in Basque language standardization.

Therefore, status policy holds the last say in Basque language’s standardization and modernization, and not corpus, i.e. only a normalization policy that provides the basis for the social normalization of the standard language can put the project of standard Basque on the right track forward. On these grounds, corpus normalization requires status normalization. Only if Basque adopts the functions inherent to a national language, may it succeed in materializing the project of standard Basque. By contrast, if we embark Basque on the social logic of an ethno-regional community, the effect of standard Basque will not be dignifying enough for the Basques. A failure in political status leads unavoidably to a flawed outcome of standard Basque.

Quoting from an enlightening statement by the Basque activist and scholar Txillardegi in 1988, «Basque standard is the National Language we require as a people, it is inextricably attached to a national project. In the absence of a national project, standard Basque is just pointless».