The Royal Academy of the Basque Language (1919) is the official body responsible for Basque, that is the Basque language. It carries out research on the language and its object is to safeguard it; the Academy has formulated the rules for the normalisation of the language.

The Basque name of this language academy is Euskaltzaindia.

Basque is a non-Indo-European language and the majority of Basque speakers live in the Basque Country (on the area around the border between the French and Spanish states, at the heart of the Bay of Biscay). The territory of the language is distributed between three different administrative entities:

  • in the autonomous regions of Euskadi and Navarre in the kingdom of Spain;
  • in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of the French Republic.

Euskaltzaindia enjoys full official recognition, as a Royal Academy in Spain (1976) and as a public non-profit organisation in the French Republic (1995). It has also earned broad acceptance in society at large. As a result, Euskaltzaindia has been notably active in its prescriptive role, mainly from 1968 on, always in pursuit of the unity of the language and its modernization.


Pronouncements of Euskaltzaindia

Pronouncement of Euskaltzaindia: 27-06-2008
(on the declaration by the French Academy)


Euskara agerkariaren azala

The specific aims of Euskaltzaindia were laid down and defined in its academic bylaws (1920). Those initial bylaws have been updated time and again (and complemented too by its rules of order), whenever linguistic or cultural changes have so required (1954, 1972, 1976, 2005, 2009, 2011).

Nevertheless, the articles of the bylaws dealing with the Academy's ultimate goals have merely confirmed the original texts, adding urgent new details (see, for example, article 1 in 1976 version). For this reason one should bear in mind how the organisation's goals were outlined in the initial bylaws of the Euskaltzaindia (although their verbal formulation has now changed substantially):

  • 1 Izkeraketz eta gizarteketz, euskera ayolaz landu ta yagoten zain egotea, Bazkun aunen elburua da: andik ere bere izena.
    (The object of this organisation is to cultivate the Basque language and to safeguard it, at both the linguistic and social levels: hence its name, including the morpheme 'zain' meaning 'look after')
  • 2 Zainbide bioi dagokienez, Sail bitan ere bereizturik euskaltzaiñak beren arloan diardukete; euskal-ikerleen sailean, ta yagoleenean, lagun bakoitza bietan dagokelarik.
    (In accordance with these two roles, members of the Academy can work in the Basque language research section or in the tutelary section and can be members of both)

(Initial bylaws of Euskaltzaindia, 1920)

In other words, the Royal Academy of the Basque Language is responsible for the corpus of the language but also its social status at the same time. In consequence Euskaltzaindia has had two sections in its activities since then: the Research Section (Iker Saila) and the Tutelary Section (Jagon Saila).

Presidents of the Academy

We now provide the list of the heads the Royal Academy of the Basque Language has had throughout its history, giving the dates in office corresponding to each:

  • R. M. Azkue


  • I. M. Etxaide


  • J. M. Lojendio


  • Manuel Lekuona


  • Luis Villasante


  • Jean Haritschelhar


  • Andres Urrutia


The Azkue Library and Archive

9:00 - 14:00

The Azkue Library and Archive serves Euskaltzaindia. It is also open to all researchers and it aims to foster research and support the distribution of Basque cultural issues as far as it is able.

  • Euskaltzaindia - Real Academia de la Lengua Vasca - Académie de la Langue Basque
  • Plaza Barria, 15. 48005 BILBO
  • +34 944 158 155
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