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The Etxepare Institute “decreases in size but increases its presence” at European language and book fairs


Basque stand at Expolingua Fair in Berlin (photo Etxepare)
Basque stand at Expolingua Fair in Berlin (photo Etxepare)


The Etxepare Basque Institute has participated this month in the main language and book fairs that took place in Europe, publicizing Basque and the Basque culture. Last weekend it was in Berlin and before that at the Language Show in London, at Frankfurt’s book fair as well as at Liber in Madrid. Mari Jose Olaziregi, the Institute’s director of the Promotion of Euskara, made a positive assessment of its presence in all of them, stressing that Etxepare has tried to optimize what the stands have to offer. “We have reduced the size of our stands but have tried to grow our presence as well as the activities that we do,” she explained to

Donostia-San Sebastian.  Mari Jose Olaziregi will participate tomorrow in the 5th World Congress of Basque Collectivities, presenting the activities of the Etxepare Basque Institute to the Basques in the Diaspora. However, before doing so, she freed up part of her busy agenda to assess the Institute’s presence at the various European language and book fairs that it had participated in during the month of October. 

The expert researcher in Basque literature assured us that the response to the activities carried out in Berlin, London, Frankfurt and Madrid have been very positive and that, generally speaking, the Institute  has tried to make all of its stands, that is shares with other entities, and associations (publishers and institutions) more dynamic and interactive.

Increasing presence

“We have tried to adapt to the current reality, to this distressing crisis situation,” Olaziregi explains.  “A big stand means a big expense, and so we have tried to optimize it, that is, to reduce the number of meters it covers, but to increase our presence and our activities.”  In order to increase public participation, for example, in Berlin, where Aizpea Goenaga Institute Director was also present, passersby were also invited to participate in the campaign where they recorded a video saying a word or a phrase in Basque.  In addition, contests were held to choose the prettiest Basque word, for example. 

Besides the aforementioned activities, beginning Basque classes were also given and Professor of Philology, Itziar Idiazabal (UPV-EHU) gave a talk entitled, “In Defense of Linguistic Diversity.”  During her talk Idiazabal defended multilingualism and explained the Basque experience during the standardization of their language.   

Basque is cool

Olaziregi also highlighted activities carried out at The Language Show in London on October 21-23, as another example of revitalizing the Basque stand.  During the talk “Make it Basque, make it cool,” for example, Xabi Paya (Basque lecturer at the University of Birmingham) and Juan Arana (Basque lecturer at the University of Liverpool) created a very appealing presentation, in the words of Olaziregi, “It was very dynamic.  They used music, bertsos, images…and many people approached the stand.”  The room was located in the center of the fair and it was filled,” she explained. 

Another of the innovative actions taken by the Institute has been the free distribution of brochures to introduce people to the Basque world designed by Kukuxumuxu.  The title of the brochures is “Basque Language go out into the World (from the Etxepare’s motto “jalgi hadi plazara Euskara”) which includes a dictionary useful for moving through Euskal Herria.  It contains basic information and general data for those who wish to travel to the Basque Country or enter the Basque speaker’s world. 

-Etxepare Basque Institute’s website:


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