A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Basque and other regional languages on the Camino

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
2021: ?
How often will we encounter Basque, or other regional languages on the Camino? And more importantly, has anyone tried to learn the basics, and what was the reception?

It looks like you'd spend about two weeks in Basque-speaking regions between the Chemin Saint Jacques and the Camino Francés. If it's something that we'd hear daily at the coffee shops and albergues - and if the locals were receptive to visitors trying to speak - then I think it would be fun to learn the basics of Basque / Euskara. But I also don't want to put too much time into it if it's a language that we'd rarely actually get to use.

I have similar questions about Galego, Occitan, or the other regional languages we might encounter.

(I know that it's a hard language, but I'm a bit of a language nerd, so I really do mean it would also be fun ... )
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
You could learn please and thank you in those languages I am sure that would be much appreciated. But in terms of wider usefulness, you are better off putting your efforts into Castilian Spanish.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Euskera is incredibly difficult. I would stick to Milesker and Agur.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
I think it's better to speak 2 or 3 languages really well than odd bits of lots. It gets on my nerves when people say Spanish is easy just because they can order a beer and a sandwich in it. Being fluent in Spanish takes a lot of time and effort, I am not there yet.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
2021: ?
I guess I should clarify! I have a very strong passive understanding of Spanish and French, and am actively working on improving my speaking skills. I understand that those will be my main day-to-day languages.

Basque would be a fun add-on for when I have extra time to study. My real question is: how much did you hear it on the Camino, if at all?
 

Carlos Santiago

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018
Euskera is incredibly difficult. I would stick to Milesker and Agur.
MadreDeDios, the "Agur" triggered a memory of this song.

Agur Jaunak
Jaunak agur
Agur terdi

Hello my friends
My friends hello
Greetings to you

It goes on some more but words with lots of Zs and Ks (let me add double Rs like my mother's family name - Arrazola) are not easy to remember - even in song.

... That's funny. Why did all participants sing this greeting at the end?


Milesker Anemone del Camino for the memories. :)
 
Last edited:

Felipe

Veteran Member
Learning even some phrases in a foreign language is funny, and it is always polite.
Just don't assume that because your are in Basque country every albergue owner, salesman, clerk or waiter is a Basque native speaker. Same in Galice with Galego.
When you see in a place (albergue, bar, etc.) some signs in the local language (or the flag), you can try safely your linguistic abilities.
I let you a signpost in the road after Valcarlos/Luzaide. It apparently says that you have to pay attention to...something.
gogoan.png
 
Last edited:

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
There ARE restaurants in the Basque regions of Spain where the menus are only in Basque. We happened to stand outside one trying to puzzle out what they were serving and were invited in - in English, since we were clearly not Spanish oppressors. The waiter translated the entire menu into English for us on the spot.

I guess if you already know Basque and Spanish (which he refused to speak, being very much a separatist), adding English is easy.

Sometimes it's really useful to look like a stereotypical viking.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
All but the most fervent Basque nationalists accept that foreign visitors are most unlikely to understand their language and normally address them first in Spanish. In my experience Basque people generally are quite proud and amused at having a language almost incomprehensible to outsiders :) That being said Basque speakers will very likely be pleasantly surprised and pleased if you learn a few polite phrases for thanks and greetings. Separatist politics and minority language issues are less heated now than they have been in the recent past. It used to be possible to plot your journey across the various provinces of northern Spain by noting how the roadsigns and official notices in Castellano had been defaced and local language versions inserted! Still a bit of that but far less than in the past.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I recommend learning just the greeting and pleasantry phrases and also "I'm sorry. I don't speak Euskara. Can we speak in Castilian or ..."

Peg and I passed a string of people walking to work one morning and not one of my greetings in Spanish got a response. :(
 
Last edited:
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I recommend learning just the greeting and pleasantry phrases and also "I'm sorry. I don't speak Euskara. Can we speak in in Castilian or ..."

Peg and I passed a string of people walking to work one morning and not one of my greetings in Spanish got a response. :(
Whoah! That's going to be a whole lot of Xs! Want to give ot a try? ;)
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Ongi etorri and aski (welcome and enough/stop) are about all I know and I live in French Basque country. The Basque I know and there are many are happy sharing their language between themselves and talking fluent French and Spanish the rest of the time with the rest of us.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I guess I should clarify! I have a very strong passive understanding of Spanish and French, and am actively working on improving my speaking skills. I understand that those will be my main day-to-day languages.

Basque would be a fun add-on for when I have extra time to study. My real question is: how much did you hear it on the Camino, if at all?
Basque has nothing in common with French or Spanish. It won't help you. Now, Gallego is easy with Spanish and French, Euskera, not so much. Have you looked it up?

I don't recall hearing it at all on the Frances. Only trace of it was children parading in the streets of Viana in traditional dress for a celebration and graffiti reminding us that we were not in Spain.

On the Norte it's what locals always used when speaking amongst themselves.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
In Navarra, Burguete is the only town on the Camino Francés including in the Basque speaking area, but when I was there I didn´t find anybody speaking Euskera.
I didn´find anyone in SJPP.
In Galicia, in rural areas, Galician is the first language, but it is very rare for a pilgrim (Spaniard or foreigner) to be asked in that language.
Santiago has also a lot of Galician speakers because the University and the regional government.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
When walking the Ruta do Mar we found a lovely elderly lady near San Martiño de Mondoñedo. She only spoke Gallego to us, but we gathered that she (and her son) were delighted to see 2 pilgrims walking to 'their' cathedral. All we asked was if we were on the right path for San Martiño.

In Castroverde the lady in the pension said that she only really spoke Gallego but that her daughter spoke some English and her husband Castellano and Gallego. We managed to communicate :)
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
When walking the Ruta do Mar we found a lovely elderly lady near San Martiño de Mondoñedo. She only spoke Gallego to us, but we gathered that she (and her son) were delighted to see 2 pilgrims walking to 'their' cathedral. All we asked was if we were on the right path for San Martiño.

In Castroverde the lady in the pension said that she only really spoke Gallego but that her daughter spoke some English and her husband Castellano and Gallego. We managed to communicate :)
Yes, knowing Spanish it is not difficult to make you understand with a monolingual person (now very few) in Galicia.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
I have met a quite young man in Galicia who was hesitant in Castilian. He was so nice, he apologised to me haltingly for the patchy state of the lawn at the (free) municipal swimming pool !

Although I have the impression that almost everyone in Galicia is fluent in Castilian but speaks Gallego at home - is that right?
 
Last edited:

mylifeonvacation

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (from Ferrol June 2014)
Camino Portuguese (from Tui May 2015)
Although I have the impression that almost everyone in Galicia is fluent in Castilian but speaks Gallego at home - is that right?
I'd say that's the case most of the time. Aside from a few elderly ladies along the Camino who spoke to me in Gallego, the Galicians I've met there do speak fluent Castilian, but Gallego at home and amongst themselves. If I'm a part of the conversation, people always switch to Spanish for my benefit, but if a conversation goes off to the side, they may switch back to Gallego.

My friend, Jose, speaks Gallego at work and with his wife and friends, but also speaks Spanish to their children (who speak Spanish at school), and with me and other Spanish speaking people who aren't Gallegos (we have a common friend who is Argentinian, for example). Recently I met a new friend whose family has lived in Santiago de Compostela her whole life and they don't speak Gallego at all, so every rule has an exception!
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
Kaixo Michael!

I never hear Basque spoken but greetings and thanks in Basque always resulted in smiles or hugs and an occasional very long conversation in English. Well worth the effort as they are wonderful people at least to me.

Walking the Inglés route a couple of years ago in October I heard Galegos a lot and found at least 90% also spoke Spanish. At one point I went 5 days without speaking English and my Spanish just got me by. Fortunately I was walking with a man from Madrid and we had a blast! I never did learn much Galegos though other that a few words that are similar to Portuguese or Spanish.

Ondo Ibili!
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I have met a quite young man in Galicia who was hesitant in Castilian. He was so nice, he apologised to me haltingly for the patchy state of the lawn at the (free) municipal swimming pool !

Although I have the impression that almost everyone in Galicia is fluent in Castilian but speaks Gallego at home - is that right?
Yes, that is true, almost averyone in Galicia is fluent in a good Castilian. In rural areas it is not only used at home but also outside (supermarkets, bars, etc.). When I visit Galicia I would speak only Galician in places like Friol, Sobrado dos Monxes, Pedrafita and Fonsagrada . I would speak only Spanish in A Coruña, Ferrol and Vigo and sometimes in Galician, sometimes in Spanish in Santiago, Lugo, Ourense and Betanzos.
 

geraldkelly

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
I've heard Basque spoken in Saint-Jean but the town is most French speaking (also, I think many inhabitants aren't from the region at all). But the countryside around is mostly Basque speaking. The language disappears after Roncesvalles. Hemingway describes the region as Basque speaking when he was there but Franco's anti regional language policies seem to have been very effective in this area.

I've heard Occitan spoken on the Chemin du Puy by two old men in a small town, and also once by two other old men in a village south of Oloron-Sainte-Marie. I think hardly anyone under 50 speaks it.

As lots of other people have already said, Galician is widely spoken outside of big cities.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I've heard Basque spoken in Saint-Jean but the town is most French speaking (also, I think many inhabitants aren't from the region at all). But the countryside around is mostly Basque speaking. The language disappears after Roncesvalles. Hemingway describes the region as Basque speaking when he was there but Franco's anti regional language policies seem to have been very effective in this area.
.
The Basque language is still spoken in Navarra in the NW corner (Alsasua, Etxarri-Aranaz and more). In Etxarri is the first language.
 

Mikel Olivares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Camino Francés.
2016, Camino Portugués from Oporto
2017, San Salvador.
PS to my earlier message: The Camino Francés goes through Navarra and unless I'm mistaken, Spanish Navarra isn't exactly the heartland of the native Basque speakers.
In Spain there are two "Basque" Communities: The Foral Community of Navarra and Euskadi.
Geographically and linguistically the origin of the Basque language - Euskera - and therefore of the Basque people is the Navarresse Pyrenees, the Spanish part and also the French part.
The political separation of the two communities is due to historical rivalries. The present Euskadi were always in the past señorias of the kingdom of Castile. Enemies of the Kingdom of Navarre.
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
In Spain there are two "Basque" Communities: The Foral Community of Navarra and Euskadi.
Geographically and linguistically the origin of the Basque language - Euskera - and therefore of the Basque people is the Navarresse Pyrenees, the Spanish part and also the French part.
The political separation of the two communities is due to historical rivalries. The present Euskadi were always in the past señorias of the kingdom of Castile. Enemies of the Kingdom of Navarre.
Hello Mikel, I see you live close to the area I plan on visiting. Could you please help me regarding my grandparents? Grandmother was born in Bidania and grandfather in Tolosa...1890`s. What would be the best way to find information in these two cities? The churches or the city halls? I plan on visiting both cities in 2mths. and wish to know my best avenue regarding the searches. Thank you ( Mileshker ainitz) so much for any information you give me. Josiane
 

Mikel Olivares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Camino Francés.
2016, Camino Portugués from Oporto
2017, San Salvador.
Kaiso Josiane.
I would be very happy to help you. I live in Zizur Mayor, town near Pamplona. Tolosa is only 50 km away.
The best way to get information is the local Parish. Parishes usually have more and better information than the municipalities, for information so old.
When you come to Euskadi do not hesitate to contact me, I´m at your disposal for what you need.
Agur eta laster
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
Kaiso Josiane.
I would be very happy to help you. I live in Zizur Mayor, town near Pamplona. Tolosa is only 50 km away.
The best way to get information is the local Parish. Parishes usually have more and better information than the municipalities, for information so old.
When you come to Euskadi do not hesitate to contact me, I´m at your disposal for what you need.
Agur eta laster
Thank you Mikel that is exactly what I needed to know ( ongui ettorri)....its the local Parish that will be of help. Thank you for your offer of helping. Much appreciated!!
 

OLDER threads on this topic


Book your lodging here

Get e-mail updates from Casa Ivar (Forum + Forum Store content)




Advertisement

Booking.com

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 12 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.5%
  • March

    Votes: 41 4.0%
  • April

    Votes: 153 15.1%
  • May

    Votes: 253 25.0%
  • June

    Votes: 77 7.6%
  • July

    Votes: 21 2.1%
  • August

    Votes: 18 1.8%
  • September

    Votes: 294 29.0%
  • October

    Votes: 122 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 12 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.5%
Top