237 Zenbakia 2004-01-09 / 2004-01-16


A basque in Oxford


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2004/01/09-16 A basque in Oxford Xabier Ezeizabarrena, Basque Visiting Fellow, St. Antony’s

Traslation: Xabier Ezeizabarrena


Espa?ol Michaelmas term, Week 4

Looking for a friend who is a biologist around the gardens and fountains of the incredible Oxford Botanic Gardens, I have been instructed by certain of his colleagues with great precision, but less success in my particular case:

- "Yes, you should follow straight through the "tilia cordata" and quickly turn right at the "cornus alternifolia", I have been told by an elegant gardener in serious tone. Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Obviously in my deep ignorance, I have been searching for the person more than half an hour, even though he was indeed very close to the famous "alternifolias". Actually, the elegant gardener was anyway, the so called in Oxford "Horti praefectus". More colloquial in English, "Garden monitor" who deals usually with every single detail happening inside this wild paradise. Michaelmas term, Week 5 WORKING AT THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY

Searching for a book at Oxford Bodleian library can be an intellectual challenge and a real adventure. Statistics talk about books passing through 13 hands before arriving to you during a period of normally 2 hours. In this sense, and regardless of the timetable particularities and peculiar organisation of every single corner of the Bodleian, there are certain terms used by the Bodleian personal that should be claryfied. Therefore, there are, at least, 3 concepts, to be known by every student, professor, fellow or visitor:

- "A working day": from Monday to Friday, as long as it is open, from the opening hour until five in the afternoon. The public holidays of May are out of the concept.

- "Normally", when referring to commitments the Bodleian makes, means that they hope to meet that commitment al least 90% of the time.

- Whereat you may find the text "we shall endeavour to do something", it means that they expect to be able to do it at least 80% of the time. Michaelmas term, Week 6 Christ Chruch race.

Within the context of the Basque Visiting Fellowship developed by the Basque Studies Society and Sant Antony's College (Oxford), last week we held at the European Studies Centre of the mentioned college in Oxford, an informal talk and debate on minority languages in the EU, with particular reference to the current situation of Basque within the different political and legal scopes whereat this language is still alive: Euskadi, Navarre and Iparralde (French-Basque side). This was the good news for this week, while the bad one is that I fall down from the rowing team list for Christ Chruch race. It seems that my stroke is not good enough therefore, even though I have been trying so hard at the erg machine.

On the good news, the main report was given by Alberto Almonacid, philosopher and expert in the field work with Basque language, specially regarding to pedagogy. To introduce the speaker and follow the debate the current year Basque Visiting Fellow in Sant Antony's, so is to say myself, ad despite of my problems within the rowing context.

The event had an important attendance of fellows, professors, students and post-graduated from Oxford, coming from many different European contexts linked with minority languages. In the auditorium, we had, inter alia, the British anthropologist, Sandy Ott (currently at Nevada University), Richard Clogg (European Studies Centre, Sant Antony's), Anne Marie Motard (Deakin Fellow from Bordeaux University and currently also in Sant Antony's), Gunfeng Ran (Visiting Fellow from Shangai at Sant Antony's) and Elena Jurado (Spanish Lecturer in Politics from Oriel College, Oxford).

We may conclude after the analysis and debate that there is indeed a different social and legal situation of Basque language within its different territorial contexts, as a fruit or result of the historical developments and of the different policies undertaken by the relevant public administrations. On the bad news, I rather prefer not to say anything. "No comment" like John Toschak. Michaelmas term, Week 7 High table

Some other relevant experiences to enjoy in Oxford are linked with the university rules and protocol, and one of those weekly examples is the High table that is held in different manners for each college. Regardless of my little experience thereon, I have been duly informed on the important distinctions between, for example, a High table in Sant Antony's (always on Tuesday and Friday during full term) from the one that happens in Oriel every Sunday after the six o clock religious ceremony. Christ Church.

In Sant Antony's, to start with the one I know better, a High table is a dinner that begins with full formal requirements but may eventually finish in very wild situations once finished the French wines, the liqueurs, the Port and the compulsory gin & tonic within the happy hour of Sant Antonys tavern (Buttery), downstairs the main hall whereat the High table takes place with fellows, visiting fellows and any other guests.

As I explained before this is happening every Tuesday and Friday during full term, and you are allowed to attend only if you previously remind to write your name in the list therefore available at the porters lodge, before noon of the previous day to the high table.

Once provided that your name is on the list, everybody meets at 630pm at the "Senior Common Room" of the Hilda Besse building, in order to start with the wines or daily aperitif. Every Sant Antony's member should be wearing a gown and must not leave them during dinner, and only are allowed to to so during dessert. This tradition seems to come back from the religious background of Oxford. Dinner was actually the single moment when students and professors met together, but showing certain distance from each other by means of having their dinner in different seats and places of the hall, with professors in the higher part of the dinning room. Ready for the everyday life. From those times to nowadays, Oxford still maintains, with the relevant particularities of every college, weekly High tables in these terms but with a much more welfare and selection of wines, foods and other delicious souvenirs than those ones tasted once upon a time, during the XIV Century. Related articles