Introduction: Bonaparte's Archive

Bonaparte's Archive is undoubtedly the greatest contribution to Basque dialectology studies and the collection written in every single dialect of the Basque language. The richness of this incomparable collection has been created thanks to those manuscripts gathered by Luis Lucien Bonaparte, the already existing ones he acquired from archives and bookstores, and those he commissioned to his collaborators, who were asked to write and translate into their own dialectal registers. All those manuscripts make up what is known as Bonaparte's Manuscripts Archive.

"some of the collections come from the XVIII and XIX centuries"

Bonaparte's main aim was to gain in-depth knowledge about the Basque language, including dialects, in order to establish a complete dialectal classification. This explains why he gathered such a rich and representative collection of documents Moreover, the Archive was systematically compiled from his first trip to the Basque Country where he always paid attention to the dialectal situation in order to establish, among others, the boundaries between dialects and subdialects, possible dialectal interferences and the socio-linguistic situation of the area, always paying attention to the speakers' real use of the language forms.

Another relevant characteristic is the dating of manuscripts that make up the Archive, since some of the collections come from the XVIII and XIX centuries ?most of them belonging to the second half of the XIX century. This is specially relevant in the cases where the gathered dialectal diversity has disappeared and, in some cases, these manuscripts are practically the only source of information we have about those dialects.

After Luis Luciano Bonaparte's death, all the manuscripts were transported from London to the Basque Country and distributed in the territorial councils of Biscay, Guipuzcoa and Navarre (Diputaciones Forales de Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa y Navarra) in 1904. Currently, they are duly distributed and catalogued in the Regional Library of Bizkaia, "Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea" Library and the Royal General Archive of Navarre.

The publication of all those manuscripts in Basque was carried out under the guidance of Rosa Miren Pagola between 1992 and 1999. In 2004, she directed the digital version in CD-rom format.

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