BASQUE LITERATURE AND TRANSLATION
© Aiora Jaka Irizar (University of the Basque Country - University of Birmingham)
Published in Transcript, 2005.
In the short history of Basque literature, translation has always played an important role: from the first translation into Basque published in 1571 -Joanes Leizarraga's New Testament- until today, when more than 30 % of the books published in Basque are translations (TORREALDAI 2005), this activity has always been present. Unlike literatures of major languages such as English where the percentage of translations is dwarfed by the enormous amount of original works, minority languages such as Basque have had to depend on translation in order to increase their literary production. Lawrence Venuti, in his work The Translator's Invisibility (1995), gives some data about the percentages of translation in different languages during the 1980s: in the case of the United States, the number of translations into English in 1990 was 2.9 %, while in Great Britain only 2.4 % of the English literary production was translated. Looking at the data of "smaller" languages, this percentage increases significantly: in 1985, translation reached 9.9 % of the total number of French publications; Italy's percentage in 1989 was 25.4 % and Germany's was 14.4 % in 1990 (VENUTI 1995). What one can gather from this information is that the more powerful and widespread a language, the smaller the percentage of translations in its total literary production. Therefore, it should not come as much of a surprise that the literatures of minority languages such as Basque are made up of a significant number of translations (the percentage of Basque translations in 1991 was 42.3 % (TORREALDAI 2005)).
Of course, the opposite is the case when it comes to book exports. English is by far the most translated language worldwide, followed by French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish and other "major" languages (VENUTI 1995; Index Translationum, UNESCO), while minor languages figure only at the very end of such lists. In contrast with British and American publishers, devoted to acquiring bestsellers and selling translation rights rather than buying them, minor and minority languages resort to translations from the other major languages that dominate the publishing industry in order for their literature to survive (VENUTI 1995).
Basque is not an exception. As Mari Jose Olaziregi points out,
despite our fine publishing industry, media and academic system, Basque literature runs the risk of giving the impression that it is not endeavouring to widen its readership (OLAZIREGI 2005).
In fact, the number of Basque books translated into other languages is very small when compared to the relative strength of literary publishing activity in the Basque Country, and it is not until the 1990s that Basque literature starts to be heard beyond its boundaries.
The aim of this article is to give a general overview of translation as relates to the Basque Country. After a brief description of the history of Basque translation, we shall confine our attention to what is being translated not only into Spanish, but also into other languages.
TRANSLATION INTO BASQUE
Despite the centrality of translation in Basque literature, the study of this activity remains a relatively unexplored field in the Basque Country, as evidenced by the relative lack of works published in the area. Apart from data about the percentages of translation through history provided by authors such as Ibon Sarasola (1975) and Joan Mari Torrealdai (1979, 1997, 2005) in their research into Basque literature, there are still very few works that focus on the activity of translation. The most comprehensive account of Basque translation history is Xabier Mendiguren Bereziartu's Euskal itzulpenaren historia laburra (1995), although Manu Lopez's works on children's and young people's literature (LOPEZ 2000, 2005) provides an important contribution to the study of the role of translation within the Basque literary system. The effort to provide a list of all the works translated into Basque made by EIZIE (Association of Basque Translators, Correctors and Interpreters) is also worth mentioning: their on-line catalogue comprises more than 6,900 translations.
According to Joan Mari Torrealdai's data (TORREALDAI 1997: 205), translation has had variable weight in the different stages of the history of Basque literature: from the first Basque publication until the end of the seventeenth century, translation constituted 16.6 % of the literary production. From 1700 to 1875, this percentage increased to 35.2 %, and diminished again to 13.3 % between 1876 and 1935. After the hard years that followed the Spanish civil war, Basque literature started to revive again in the Southern part of the Basque Country, especially from the 1960s onwards, and translation reached again a higher percentage in the literary production (22.3 %). But it was not until the end of the Franco regime that Basque literature and translation enjoyed the proper conditions to begin to thrive. Translation activity experienced a great increase during this period due to the creation of a bilingual administration and the accompanying regeneration of the Basque media. It continued to gain in importance during the last years of the 1980s and the beginnings of the 1990s, constituting 43.6 % of the overall literary production in 1993. As a result of this new climate, translation activity continued to grow, although the percentage is smaller (30.8 % in 2003) due to the increase experienced by the number of original Basque publications (TORREALDAI 2005: 28).
From Xabier Mendiguren Bereziartu's Euskal itzulpenaren historia laburra (1995), it is clear that most of the translations before 1975 were religious texts, and that the mode of translating was conditioned by the ideological need to reproduce faithfully the word of God.
The first Basque translation -which was, in fact, the second published book in the short history of Basque literature, born with Bernart Etxepare's Lingua Vasconum Primitiae, in 1545- was, as already mentioned, Joanes Leizarraga's New Testament (1571). The translation was considered a masterpiece and established the basis of word for word translation.
During the seventieth century, most of the translated works were ascetic books, although some proverbs were also translated from different languages. We could mention Joanes Etxeberri from Ziburu, Joanes Haranburu, Arnaut Oihenart and Pedro Axular among the translators in this period.
Eighteenth century translation is characterised by its multiple translations of the Bible (Betri Urte, Joanes Haraneder and Joaquin Lizarraga from Elkano, among others), and by several attempts to raise the Basque language to the status of "language of culture" (Manuel Larramendi, Agustin Kardaberaz, Joan Antonio Mogel and so forth).
The most famous translations of the nineteenth century are those made under the leadership of the French Prince Bonaparte. He became interested in the Basque language, and in order to analyse the different Basque dialects, he asked a group of writers to translate some parts of the Bible into their own Basque dialect.
After the loss of the Basque "fueros" (special legislative privileges) in 1876, there was growing concern about Basque national history, culture and language, and a flourishing literature began to grow. We could mention in this group translators such as Toribio Alzaga, Gregorio Arrue, Resurrección María Azkue and Manuel Arriandiaga.
The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by the desire of transmitting God?s word to the people. Trying to satisfy this will, in 1931 Raimundo Olabide translated the New Testament directly from Greek.
Nikolas Ormaetxea (Orixe) established the beginning of the free translation era. After having won a literary contest in 1928 with the translation from Spanish of the ninth chapter of El Quijote, he also translated El Lazarillo de Tormes in 1929. In this period of free translation we should also mention Jokin Zaitegi, Andima Ibiñagabeitia, Bedita Larrakoetxea and so forth. Many of their translations were published in literary journals such as Euzko Gogoa, Olerti and Egan. As well as classical writers (Euripides, Plato, Sophocles, Horace, Ovid, Virgil and so forth), other important writers such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, Longfellow, Wilde and the brothers Grimm were also incorporated into Basque. The contribution that the famous Basque writer Gabriel Aresti made to translation is also worth mentioning. The trend of free translation would remain until the 1960s, when a new generation of Basque writers started to take a different path in literature and translation, with authors such as Joxe Azurmendi, Txillardegi, Ramon Saizarbitoria, and a little later, Bernardo Atxaga.
The end of the Franco regime (1975) marked a turning point for Basque literature and Basque translation. With the adoption of a new Constitution in Spain, Basque acquired co-official status with Spanish in the Basque Autonomous Community, which led to the spread of the Basque language in several fields (education, administration, media) and to the consequent need for translation. There was, of course, a notable parallel increase in Basque literary production. But this increase would not have been possible without the help of translated books (especially in the field of children's literature). There was a proliferation of Basque publishing houses, the first translation school (Martuteneko Itzultzaile Eskola) was created in 1979, and since September 2000, the University of the Basque Country offers a degree in Translation and Interpretation.
Nowadays, one of the busiest literary translation activities in the Basque Country is that related to children's and young people's literature. According to a study carried out by Manu Lopez (LOPEZ 2000), children's literature covers about 72 % of all the literature translated into Basque. The main source languages are Spanish, English and Catalan. In the twenty years following Franco's death (1976-1995) 1,500 books were translated into Basque in the area of children's literature, largely within the numerous new series and collections for children created by publishers such as Gero-Mensajero, Hordago and Elkar, and later on by Pamiela, Ttarttalo, Ibaizabal, S.M and others. It can be said that the main function of this kind of translation was to fill the gap in many areas that were undeveloped in Basque and to meet the great demand of the school system.
If we set aside children's and young people's literature, the most important initiative to bring world literature to a Basque readership is the series called "Literatura Unibertsala", a project that started in 1989 after some meetings between the Ministry of Culture of the Basque Government and EIZIE (Association of Basque Translators, Correctors and Interpreters) where it was agreed to hold a translation contest every year to promote quality translations of selected classics. It was not easy to establish a canonical list of "masterpieces" to be translated, as depending on the criteria chosen (the length and quality of the text, general market forces, its accessibility and translatability, for instance), such a list would vary notoriously. All in all, everyone agreed that an association like EIZIE should not ignore the need to translate those titles that had achieved worldwide acceptance, and, in the end, it was decided that the list would, in the main, be made up of works written by classic authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing, primarily, on modernity. The first translation contest was held in 1989, leading to the translation of 7 works, which were published in collaboration with the publishing house Ibaizabal, and with the support of the Basque Government. From then on, a similar number of books has been translated every year, although nowadays they are published in collaboration with the publishing houses Elkar and Alberdania. The whole list of the translated works can be seen in EIZIE's website (ALDEKOA and OLAZIREGI 2001; AUZMENDI 1990).
TRANSLATION FROM BASQUE
If the bibliography about Basque translation is very scant concerning world literature translated into Basque, we can hardly find any work that focuses on the reception of Basque literature outside the Basque Country. This is largely because activity in this area has only really become significant in the past two decades, so translation from Basque has not yet been analysed in depth. Therefore, I have had to rely on general bibliography about Basque literature and search through different book catalogues and databases in order to find works of Basque literature in other languages. The most useful tools for such a search could be the following: for books published in the Spanish state, the Spanish ISBN database, and for books published in other countries, UNESCO's Index Translationum database.
What we can extract from these sources is that the few translations from Basque before the end of the Franco regime were made by Basque writers (often by the same authors), almost exclusively into Spanish: Gabriel Aresti published his famous poem book Harri eta Herri in both Basque and Spanish, for example; also, Joan Antonio Mogel's Peru Abarka, written in 1802 and published in 1881, was translated into Spanish by Resurrección María Azkue in 1899. Other examples would be Bernart Etxepare's Linguae Vasconum Primitiae (1545), translated into Spanish by Lino Akesolo (1966) and Txomin Agirre's Auñemendiko lorea (1898), translated into Spanish by Inazio Goikoetxea (1967).
It is not until the 1980s that Basque literature begins to be heard beyond the Basque Country, thanks, mostly, to the awards received by some Basque writers both in the Basque Country and in Spain: Atxaga's Obabakoak won the Spanish Narrative Award ("Premio Nacional de Narrativa"), among other prizes; Unai Elorriaga's SPrako tranbia was given the same award; Miren Agur Meabe's poetry work Azalaren kodea won the "Euskadi" critic's prize; Lourdes Oñederra was given the "Euskadi" prize for literature for her novel Eta emakumeari sugeak esan zion. Nowadays, apart from these prizes and other initiatives devoted to the spread of Basque literature, such as the Basque Literature Series launched by the Center for Basque Studies of the Univesity of Nevada, Reno, there are still few grants and aids to support translation from Basque. It is enough to look at UNESCO's Index Translationum database to realize how limited the number of Basque books translated and published in different countries of the world is. From data published on June 2005, we found that, apart from the Spanish state, where 598 Basque titles have been translated into different languages, the top ten countries show very small numbers of works translated from Basque: France (32), Germany (9), United States of America (7), Netherlands (5), Finland (5), Switzerland (4), Denmark (3), Greece (3) and Poland (2). Furthermore, it has to be taken into account that many of the translations recorded in this database do not belong to the field of literature proper, but are rather works of research, reports or analyses. If we limit our attention to narrative, poetry and other literary genres, the number is reduced dramatically, and even more if we take into account that about half of those works belong to the field of children's and young people's literature. If we also remove from this number all the translations of Bernardo Atxaga, one of the few -not to say the only- Basque writers that has achieved success and recognition out of the Basque Country, we become aware that the short list that remains does not reflect at all the richness and variety of Basque literature. Whilst I have already recorded a number of translations that do not appear in the database, they do not change the overall picture of trends in Basque translation.
Poetry, essay, theatre
The predominance of the narrative genre in Basque literature today (according to Torrealdai, 62.3 % of the Basque literature produced in 2003 was made up of narrative texts, while poetry enjoyed a 14.5 % and theatre plays formed 4.8 % of the general literary production (TORREALDAI 2005)) is well reflected in the corpus of books translated from Basque: most of the translated works are written in prose, and there are only few examples of Basque poetry in other languages. Once again, we have to mention the well-known case of Atxaga: his poetry books Etiopia and Henry Bengoa, Inventarium were translated into Spanish under the title of Poemas & Híbridos, and then translated into Catalan, French, Italian and Finnish. Another example is the young Kirmen Uribe's Bitartean heldu eskutik, which won Spain's 2001 "Premio de la Crítica", and has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. Harkaitz Cano's poetry has also been translated and published in a book: Dardaren interpretazioa. Interpretación de los sueños includes almost all his poetic production, published originally in Kea behelainopean bezala (1994) and Norbait dabil sute-eskaileran (2001), as well as two unpublished poems. It is a book that offers both the original version in Basque and its translation in Spanish, made by the author himself. Felipe Juaristi's Laino artean zelatari was translated and published in Catalan, and Galderen geografia in Spanish.
Apart from these and a few other examples, however, there is little in Basque poetry that has been translated as a whole book. The majority of the Basque poems translated have been published sporadically and separately, in anthologies or literary reviews. If we return to the examples just presented, for instance, some poems from Atxaga's Poemas & Híbridos were translated and included in some anthologies and reviews in Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, United States, Bulgaria, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine and other countries.
But there is another tool that plays an important role in promoting and spreading Basque poetry around the world: many Basque poets have seen their poems translated and published in different Internet websites. One of these is the internet review TRANSCRIPT, which, in its 5th issue published a section dedicated to Basque literature, and where one can enjoy reading some Basque poets (Kirmen Uribe, Miren Agur Meabe, Harkaitz Cano, Juanjo Olasagarre, Rikardo Arregi Diaz de Heredia, Felipe Juaristi and Bernardo Atxaga) in English (there are also some poems by Rikardo Arregi Diaz de Heredia in German).
Another interesting project is Armiarma, the website run by the Basque publishing house SUSA. This ambitious and innovative website puts at everyone's disposal several Basque literary works, both originals and their translations. There are more than 150 Basque books on-line, some of them originals and some of them translations (we can read Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Patricia Highsmith, Arthur Rimbaud, or even Shakespeare, for example, in Basque); contemporary works and classic Basque books (we have got the on-line version of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae, the first book published in Basque, among others); we can find prose and poetry, as well as theatre plays.
The website also contains examples of Basque literary works translated into different languages (Catalan, German, English, French, Galician, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian and Spanish). Some of the translations have already been published as whole books, but many works, especially in the area of poetry, have only been published in compilations or in journals, or even exclusively on-line.
In the case of theatre there are fewer translations (Xabier Mendiguren Elizegi's Heroien gaua and Telesforo ez da Bogart and Ixiar Rozas's Gau bakar bat, translated into Spanish, for instance), and the essay enjoys also a very limited space concerning both original production and translation (Jon Alonso's Idiaren eraman handia, translated into Spanish, Atxaga's Groenlandiako lezioa -Spanish- and Joseba Sarrionandia's Ni ez naiz hemengoa -Spanish and German- would be some of the few examples).
As we have seen before, in the corpus we are trying to build, the amount of narrative works exceeds that of poetry works. As far as the range of languages is concerned, however, the novels translated from Basque are not very widely known beyond the Castilian-speaking world. If we set aside Bernardo Atxaga, whose best-known novel Obabakoak has been translated into 26 different languages, we cannot say that many Basque novels have come out in languages other than Spanish. To mention some examples, the famous Basque writer Joan Mari Irigoien has been translated five times. Apart from the Catalan version of his novel Babilonia, the target-language of the rest of the translations is Spanish (Babilonia, Lur bat haratago, Poliedroaren hostoak and Consumatum est). Something similar happens with Anjel Lertxundi (six translations; all of them into Spanish), Jon Alonso (three translations; all into Spanish), Ramon Saizarbitoria (nine translations; five into Spanish) and many other Basque writers.
The predominance of Spanish as the target language of translations from Basque leads to one of the most interesting features of Basque translation activity. This is the prevalence of the phenomenon of "self-translating". The fact that Basque is a minority language means that all Basque-speakers are at least bilingual, and this is the reason why so many Basque writers have undertaken the task of translating their own books into what might be termed "their other mother-tongue" (mainly Castilian).
This is the case of Bernardo Atxaga, Unai Elorriaga and Harkaitz Cano, among others, who have translated their own productions into Spanish. This is a very odd situation, as translating one?s own works makes impossible the separation from the text that many claim essential in translating. This is why a lot of self-translated books are not called translations anymore, but rather adaptations, by their author-translators. Unai Elorriaga, who has translated his SPrako tranbia into Spanish, claims that this Spanish version is better: "It is like one of those rewritings that a novel always needs, but in another language" (GARCÍA-CARO 2005 [translation mine]).
Similarly, Bernardo Atxaga talks about the freedom of the author who translates his own works:
The importance of the author, despite the critics, reduces to the minimum the translator's level of freedom. By contrast, the authors that translate their own works enjoy a very high level of freedom. I don't have any problem to break a text or to remove a page, or even to add another one, as I am pretty sure that nobody will reproach me for anything. I don't have any kind of social pressure. I have got an immeasurable amount of freedom in that respect (...). It is obvious that the higher the level of freedom an author has got, the higher his/her space for creative capacity will be (ATXAGA 2001 [translation mine]).
Other authors prefer not to translate their own books. This is the case of Anjel Lertxundi, who, after an attempt to translate one of his own short stories (Lur hotz hau ez da Santo Domingo), decided that he could not be his own translator:
(...) the text published in Basque and the one published in Spanish are different. I would say that the Spanish one has got an extra touch. Somehow, making a sort of working progress, cheating here and there, avoiding the weak points of the original text, treating it in a different way, I betrayed the original text.
So he made the decision of not translating his own works. He points out two reasons for such a decision:
[The first is] the allegiance to the original text (...). If someone wants to translate a piece of work into another language, he or she must know Basque, and this is in general very unlikely. In these cases, one must usually make use of Spanish or French as a bridge-langauge (...). This is acceptable, but I think that in order to do that, the Basque and the Spanish versions must be identical.
There is another matter in making such a consideration (...): if I worked knowing that the text I am writing will be later on translated into a language that enjoys a longer tradition, I would avoid, exclude and put aside all the difficulties I have in Basque; if I were aware that I am going to write a fixed text in Spanish, I would not be so specific. (...) I am sure that I would avoid more easily all the technical, literary and linguistic problems if I knew that some day that text will be translated into another language and that I will control the text and make my own literary path in that second language (LERTXUNDI 1999 [translation mine]).
What we can gather from these examples is that the translator who is translating another author's books remains usually more faithful to the original than the writer that translates his or her own books. Apart from this obligation of being loyal, however, the minority status of the Basque language involves another kind of problem, mentioned by Lertxundi, i.e. the need to pass through a "bridge-language". It is obvious that not all Basque books have been translated directly from Basque. All the Spanish versions and a few French, Catalan or English translations might have used the original version as the only source text, but we know that most of the German, Italian, Albanian, Greek and other translators have used another version (usually the Spanish one) as a bridge between the source and target languages. This is the case, for example, of Bernardo Atxaga's Gizona bere bakardadean, which has been translated into Spanish by the author himself and Arantxa Sabán, and this Spanish version has been used by other translators to publish their Catalan, French and English versions. Van Hoff-en ilea, by Unai Elorriaga, has been translated from Spanish into Catalan, although in this latter case we could probably not talk about a "bridge-language", as the author claims that the Spanish version of the novel is not a translation, but a recreation of his Basque version.
But both cases share a common peculiarity. As Basque is a minority language, the everyday routine of any Basque speaker occurs in a context where more than one language take part. Therefore, the translators of those books that reflect this linguistic situation have to face a great obstacle. Linda White, in her article «From apologists to a Basque-speaking universe: the use of (foreign) languages in Basque literature», makes a wonderful analysis of the effects that this multilingual context causes in the translations of different Basque novels:
In Obabakoak we find marvellous examples of Atxaga's use of foreign languages in his Basque prose. (...) The narrator (the story is told in the first person) also scatters English throughout the story. (In Margaret Jull Costa's translation into English, this usage is not expressed, and the reader has no idea that the narrator is not a native of the language in which the story is told). The bird songs and other animal sounds are called "voices" and Atxaga puts Basque endings on the English words wherever needed (voiceak). "Voice" is the most often repeated foreign word in the story, appearing seven times on the first page alone as Atxaga's narrator describes the sounds of the jungle as heard by Laura Sligo. But also on the first page are "river" in the Basque adjectival form "riverretako" and "high land" (232). On the next page, we find "voiceak", "letter", "If lost, return to sender", "letter", "God knows", "river" (riverren), "Medical Captain", "voiceak", and "voiceak" (WHITE 2000).
This is only one example of the difficulties that are repeated in several Basque translations due to the multilingual context of the Basque language.
Children's and young people's literature
As has been mentioned before, a large part of the foreign literature translated into Basque is made up of children's literature. The same thing happens when it comes to translations from Basque: about half of these books belong to children's literature. Mariasun Landa is the most translated writer in this field: her books have been translated not only into Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Aranese, Aragonese and Asturian, but also into English, German, French, Breton, Greek and Albanian. Other writers of children's literature whose books have been translated into a wide range of languages include Bernardo Atxaga, Juan Kruz Igerabide, Patxi Zubizarreta and Xabier Mendiguren Elizegi.
One of the most remarkable issues about children's translated literature in the Basque Country is the enormous amount of translations made from Basque into the other languages of the Spanish state. Analysing the corpus, one realises that not only are Catalan and Galician the target languages of these translations, but also other minority languages spoken in the Spanish state. The cases of Asturian, Aragonese and Aranese are interesting counterparts to the Basque case explored here, as they lack the official status enjoyed nowadays by Basque, Catalan and Galician: having a far smaller number of speakers, they do not have as rich a literature as the other three co-official languages do, and they use translation as a basis to fill this gap in their literatures. One of the most widespread book-collections in this respect is "Eta zer?", a product of the platform Argitaletxe Elkartuak, created in collaboration of the Basque publishing house Elkarlanean and other publishing houses (Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Aragonese and Asturian). Most of the books in this collection are written in Basque (out of the 13 titles published so far, 6 are originally Basque, 3 Spanish and 2 Galician) and then translated into the others, although the translations are made from the Spanish version and not directly from the original Basque. We could mention as examples Txiliku's Arreba txiki bat dut, eta zer? and Miren Agur Meabe's Etxe bitan bizi naiz, eta zer?, translated into Spanish, Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Aragonese and Asturian.
What may be concluded from this short survey of Basque literature and translation is that translation has made an enormous contribution to the development of Basque language and literature. By analysing the various translations of the Bible published at different stages of the history of Basque literature, for instance, one can observe that the changes undergone by the successive translations have had their effect on the creation of a literary language and on the introduction of new literary trends. This is all the more true when we come to discuss current literary production. We have seen that the 1970s and the 1980s have marked translation as an important tool in Basque cultural production: foreign literature has been incorporated into the Basque literary system thanks to good quality translations made -usually directly- from languages as unfamiliar as Russian or Czech. As Anjel Lertxundi said in 1993:
I think that the most significant event that has happened in the Basque literature in the last years has been, without question, the effort made in translation. Translation is constructing a literary language; translation is opening new paths towards different attitudes, always through precision, since plurality cannot be based but on precision (TORREALDAI 1997: 221 [translation mine]).
Conversely, translation from Basque is not yet a very productive field. The few efforts made in this respect have appeared in very recent years, as there was not any clear translation policy until the year 2000, when the Basque Government started to offer grants for the international promotion of Basque books, by means of the promotion of translations of Basque works into other languages, and the University of the Basque Country established a degree in translation and interpretation. However, it has to be said that this lack of policy is inextricably linked to the lack of high-level translators, a consequence, probably, of the small number of international exchange programs offered by Basque universities.
However, this situation is changing thanks to the commitment of many devoted writers and translators, and good quality translations into different languages are contributing to change the erroneous image that Basque literature has sometimes been given abroad. There are still many fields to explore in the vast world of Basque translation. My goal in this article was to offer an introductory overview and to argue for the urgent need for a thorough study in order to analyse the different phenomena that occur when translating from minority languages. One that we have identified so far is that of self-translation, the analysis of which may serve as a useful guide to how two languages coexist in the same community; another is the role that translation can play in the manipulation or misunderstanding of literature and culture. Now that translation practice is so central to the cultural system in the Basque Country, it is hardly surprising that there has been an increase in critical interest in the effects of translation in constructing and transmitting particular cultural identities. I have no doubt that there will continue to be significant developments and lively debate in this area in the coming decades.
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