The Department of Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government and PuntuEUS Fundazioa have presented the strategies of collaboration between the two institutions in an event held in the Historical Archive of Euskadi in Bilbao. The aim of the actions planned for the period 2022-2023 is to promote the use of the Basque language in the digital environment of the social and socio-economic spheres, as well as the presence of the .EUS domain. For this purpose, in the financial year 2022 the Basque Government will subsidize with EUR 50,000 PuntuEUS Fundazioa and will also provide technical support for the development of the planned projects.
The collaboration project presented by the Minister of Culture and Linguistic Policy, Bingen Zupiria and President of PuntuEUS Fundazioa, Iñaki Goirizelaia, has two main objectives:
- Socioeconomic field: to promote the use of the .EUS domain in companies and to use the Basque in their digital environment.
- Personal area: Translate to the Basque electronic devices of users.
In the socio-economic field, priorities have been set on the basis of four lines. On the one hand, there are the many private entities which are directly related to the Linguistic Policy Vice-Ministry; on the other hand, business associations and their members; on the other hand, trade and hospitality have been defined and, finally, SMEs.
The domains of these entities and companies will be analyzed, the path to implement the .eus domain will be paved and strategies and steps will be defined to promote the use of the Basque in its digital environment. The Department of Culture and Linguistic Policy and the .EUS domain will cooperate in this effort by attracting entities and institutions and monitoring them. Training sessions and technical assistance will be offered to those in need. For this purpose, PuntuEUS Fundazioa will offer numerous resources to companies and institutions such as free .EUS domain and plugin to automatically translate the website.
In order to define the actions linked to the personal area, that is, to promote the Basque language as the main language of users in the digital environment, first of all, an analysis of the situation will have to be made. Subsequently, various communicative actions will be carried out to promote the use of the .EUS domain or the configuration in Euskera of browsers and electronic devices.
Euskera in the digital environment
In today’s presentation, Bingen Zupiria, Minister of Culture and Linguistic Policy has stated that “it is currently essential to take into account the digital vivacity of the language, as it will reflect to some extent what its state of health is. And the digital vivacity is linked to the supply, on the one hand, because it’s important to expand the digital content in the Basque network — how many more, better. But, on the other hand, it is vital to reinforce habits to consume these digital content in the Basque country.”
PuntuEUS President Fundazioa Iñaki Goirizelaia, for his part, has stressed that it is the responsibility of PuntuEUS to respond to the current situation of Basque society: “We are experiencing a digital transformation of society and in the last two years, for reasons of urgency, this process has accelerated enormously. Our foundation helps the people and companies that have started this process: offering, along with the domain, tools, training, care and cybersecurity; and we do it from the Basque. PuntuEUS is a project that contributes to responding to digital transformation from the Basque country. According to the 2017 measurement, 16% of the websites of the Basque Country had some content in Euskera; and 1.3% were entirely in Euskera. Among the websites that use .EUS, 84% are in Euskera. And the use of .EUS contributes to the digitization of our society in Euskera, locally and safely”.
In order to increase the visibility of the Basque language in the digital environment, to create a significant amount of data and volume in the Basque language, two aspects must be taken into account: it is essential that the web pages are in the Basque language, as well as to increase the presence of the .EUS domain that represents the Basque language in the network. But at the same time, it is also key that most users of the network start their communication or interaction in euskera. As Zupiria explained, “in addition to improving supply and consumption habits, we must not forget that it is crucial that as many people as possible start their digital interactions in the Basque language. This first word on the network is given by our devices and, therefore, it is important that users have their devices configured in Euskera. We must increase the specific weight of Euskera on the Internet, as in this way we will show large companies, developers of websites, robots and so on that Basque people are on the Internet.”
The promotion of the .EUS domain is one of the projects defined in the document Plan of Promotion of the Basque Country in the socio-economic field 2020-2023 and among the actions defined by the report The digital environment of the Basque country. Recommendations 2021-2024 include making the Basque Country and the Basque digital resources visible in order to promote their use. The object of PuntuEUS Fundazioa also coincides with this objective and aims to respond from the Basque to the digital transformation of society.