Invisible Interference
Juan Gartzia


One of the things to be most seriously considered is interference which in our case, and due to the circumstances is already an accute problem-which is normally dealt with as being lexical grammatical. The problem however is often mixed in with purism which is not very well understood: if a text does not resemble Spanish, it is alright. And so we see that our prose appears full of disordered syntactic orders, bad use of anaphorics, ellipsed ellipsise etc. We have often seen too where interference can even become mistaken for elegance.

The whole thing must be considered on a wider scale-from a stylistic point of view (we are not refering to literary style here but language style). As this does not normally appear in the grammar books, these stylistic interferences often go unnoticed.

The Present

The different values of the Castilian present cannot always be translated as present in Basque. What is more, in addition there are different uses in Basque of two types of verbs, the synthetic and the peryphrastic.

The punctual present makes for some serious copying-yet very widespread (sometimes due to the supposed relegance above mentioned) and some which are almost normalized. The historic present, in its most characteristic use that is to dramatize a narration, is more or less equivalent in the two languages. The present as a future is also a source of problems. So we often here "nos vamos?" translated as "goazen ? " . Which means it is translated as an imperative-its very sad but very frequently heard however.


The Spanish future in its various forms is more similar to the Basque, so it does not give rise to problems.


Much of what we have said about the Present may be applied to the past. It must be specially noted that in its most idiomatic use the most mechanical translation is not acceptable (fhatic, wishes, etc.).

On the other hand being the narrative tense par excellence and in view of formal structure of the past in euskara it can result in a monotonous and repetitive text. To avoid this however there are various alternatives: ellipsis, the use of false commonplaces and change of order within the sentence.

About courtesy expressions and other matters

The matter in question is to avoid the imperative (too strong) in questions and requests. Periphrasis with "poder" (can) is often used in these cases in Spanish, now,"poder" is one of the most complicated modal auxiliary in Spanish. Some of these expressions can be translated directly into euskara but there are lots of other cases (mainly when "poder" comes into it) in which a direct translation gives way to wrong and what's more affected and complicated expressions.

Neither an absolutely parallel graduation nor the same grammatical structure need to be used in order to achieve a correct equivalence. Reformulation will take us away from the original but that will be precisely the most approximate and appropiate translation