Thursday, March 25, 2004

To Andolin Eguzkitza

Some sad news at Berria English today:

“When it rains in our very depths” (*)

The unexpected news of Andolin Eguzkitza’s death has caused great sadness in the world of Basque culture

Juan Luis Zabala – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
The world of Basque letters was rocked by a sad piece of news yesterday: the writer Andolin Eguzkitza died of a heart attack yesterday morning in the hospital of Basurto (Bilbo). He had undergone a heart operation after an aneurysm was detected; although the operation appeared to have been successful, he died suddenly afterwards. This poet, novelist, full member of the Euskaltzaindia, lecturer and professor at the University of the Basque Country - EHU, former chairman of the EIE (Basque Writers’ Association) and Member of the Basque Language Advisory Committee of the Basque Government had worked untiringly in support of the Basque language and culture.

He was born on December 6, 1953 in Santurtzi (Bizkaia). He graduated in Romance Languages at the University of Deusto in 1975 and the following year continued his studies at the University of Salamanca where Koldo Mitxelena was one of his teachers. After spending two years at the Linguistics Institute of the University of Cologne he went to America, firstly to Iowa University and then to UCLA in Los Angeles. There he was awarded a PhD in Romance Linguistics for his thesis entitled Topics on the Syntax of Basque and Romance .

By then, however, he had conducted other pieces of research of a less official nature but by no means inferior: at the beginning of the 70’s he learnt Basque with the help of Gabriel Aresti, Xabier Kintana, Joseba Agirreazkuenaga and others. Eguzkitza was said to have amazed Aresti with his tremendous ability to learn the language and to acquire the distinctive features of local Basque language varieties. When Aresti realised Eguzkitza had this gift he regarded him as a “monster”. He was also acquainted with Jon Mirande. Eguzkitza prepared Mirande’s anthology of poetry Orhoituz for publication after the poet’s death. On his return to the Basque Country in the mid-80s he began to work as a lecturer, firstly at the University of Deusto and later at the University of the Basque Country, where he continued lecturing in subjects relating to linguistics. Last September he was awarded the Chair in General Linguistics and Typology.

In 1991 the Euskaltzaindia appointed him as an associate member and in March 2001 he became a full member to replace the late Luis Villasante. His presentation speech was in praise of candour. He headed the Dialectology Committee and sat on the Grammar Committee and on the “Exonomastics” or Foreign Names Sub-Committee, among others.

Apart from poetry collections and novels Andolin Eguzkitza wrote many articles for newspapers, journals and magazines throughout the Basque Country: Anaitasuna, Pott Bandaren Praka, Argia, Jakin, Euskaldunon Egunkaria, BERRIA, Hegats, Maiatz and Elhuyar, among others.

(*) This is a reference to Erraietan barrena euria egiten digunean , Eguzkitza’s translation into Basque of a work entitled Quan plou en les entranyes by the Catalan poet Manel Alonso.

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