Some Peculiarities of Translation to Basque
Josu Zabaleta


Some ideas existe concerning Translation to Basque, that for effect of repeating, have become commonplace. One of them is that to translate to basque is very difficult because it is a totally different language typologically from the ones that it is surrounded by. Another of the ideas consists in saying that translation is complicated because of fact of being a language in the process of standardization.

The normality/abnormality are, as well as linguistics is sociopolitical . Of course, the concept of wide.spread normality is in relation to its origins, within the reinforcing function of language in political unity at the begining of Modern State. Then normality will be a synonym of stability and continuity. But it is enough to review history even to focus on the present-to see that it has not always been like this, and that diglossic situations have often been the "norm". With all this, and for convenience from here forth we will refer to this idea of normality, by saying that the normal language is the one used in a definid territory, the official standardized language which is used by the majority of the inhabitants of that society in order to satisfy the habitual need of communication.

The working conditions of a Basque translator cannot be compared with those of a standardized language. That is, in reference to a translator's communicative and sociolinguistic role, we could say that it is he who is standardizing in a greater part of the Basque language.

The work of a translator includes the need to create the language to be used in up to now new fields: it is he eho must create the terminology, the style. . . not only in science but also in Administration, and also in mass media. And that, of course, does not happen in a well established language. But creating terminology is not sufficient. only real use within communication will allow them to settle down.

Another peculiarity of the Basque translator es related to his knowledge of Basque and the sociolinguistic situation. In the society where he lives all the Basque speaking people are bilingual, and these circumstances constantly provokes interferences in his work. Thats why, translation often is synonym of interference and contamination (although at times the translator is the facing them: purism appears above all in translations).

We must also talk about the pair of' languages that a translator uses: The Basque usually translate from Spanish, that is to say, a language which is almost his second mother tongue, this as said by some experts, is harmfull for translation, because the original language Spanish with being so well known, in the process of translation it is not analyzed enough.

Lastly, we will point out the fact that the basque market is not a "normal" one: it is small, with very few customers and also bilingual and diglossic. In developed languages, "commercial" translation reaches 80-85% of the total. In ours it is practically no place. The biggest part is carried out by the Administration (which usually means self translation) and the mass media, that's to say, ETB (Basque Television).