A new view of Basque through eighteenth-century correspondence
This contribution deals with a recently discovered Basque correspondence which poses new research questions. The letters, written in Labourdin dialect in 1757, provide insight into the practice of writing, depicting an unexpected panorama of literate women and semi-professional scribes. Because of their nature, these records attest to some linguistic features lacking in the printed tradition of Labourdin. The goal of this paper is to discuss the linguistic importance of these newly discovered letters and, in particular, to show how they change our understanding of the history of the language. To that end, I focus on differences between the language used in literary texts and private correspondence. As an example of this divergence between literary texts and personal letters, I analyze two epenthesis rules: the insertion of a [β] after <i>u</i> and the insertion of [ ʝ] after <i>i</i>.