Rose Cooper-Finger ’14

Rose Cooper-Finger

Project: Euskara, Euskal Herria: Narratives of Language Revitalization in French and Spanish Basque Country
Major: Linguistics and foreign languages
Grant: Esterly award
Location: Basque country

Rose Cooper-Finger had no idea an idle trip to a museum would lead to an award—and inspiration for her senior thesis.

Cooper-Finger studied abroad in Germany, France, and Spain during her junior year.  While in France, she was captivated by a museum exhibit on Basque influences in modern society.

“Presented in all three languages of French, Spanish, and Basque, the exhibit was inclusive and interesting,” she says. “Basque culture has such a rich and in-depth tradition. It is thought that Basques are a remnant of the early inhabitants of Western Europe.”

This glimpse into Basque culture, specifically the unique language, intrigued Cooper-Finger. The Basque language is unlike any she had seen or studied and remains a linguistic mystery. She applied for and received an Esterly Award from Scripps, providing the necessary means to extend her time abroad for further inquiry and research.

Cooper-Finger was able to self-direct her project and conduct original research on her terms. She met with journalists, professors, linguists, community members, and public service representatives in the region about their experiences speaking Basque.

Through her project, she learned how the Basque language is regulated differently in Spain and France. France doesn’t afford Basque speakers many rights, and deliberately represses the language; it’s a different situation in Spain. There, Basque is promoted and taught in bilingual schools, keeping the language alive with the future generations.

Cooper-Finger’s research and findings will inform her thesis, which she plans to focus on either bilingual education or language policy in Basque country. “I love the independence this opportunity afforded me,” she says. “It was a very empowering experience.”


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