This article analyzes the ideological and sociological uses of literal translation in Refranes y Sentencias, an anonymous compilation of Basque proverbs, with Spanish translations, published in 1596. The compilation is published at the moment when Basques vie for influence in the Spanish court, using the alleged purity and antiquity of their language as a sign of "purity of blood", thus claiming priority at court. Refranes y Sentencias illustrates how bilingualism works in the early modern Basque speaking areas, as well as how this bilingualism is perceived and refigured by Basque intellectuals. By resorting to linguistic archaism and the supposed "folk wisdom" reflected in the proverbs, the compilation contributes to cement Basque fictions of cultural and genealogical purity and deflect Castilian cultural and linguistic influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-512
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Basque-Spanish
  • Early modern period
  • Linguistic ideology
  • Literal translation
  • Proverbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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