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Morris Academy | Mikel Morris

Profession

  • Lexicographer
  • Writer
  • Linguist
  • Teacher
  • Lecturer
  • Translator

Personal Chronology

  • 1957 Born in Denver, Colorado. Parents: Roy E. Morris, Jr. and Nancy P. Morris
  • 1961 Parents moved to Arvada, Colorado
  • 1964 Parents moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • 1967 Parents moved to Luanda, Angola
  • 1969 Parents moved to Jackson, Mississippi
  • 1971 Parents moved to Boulder, Colorado
  • 1972-1975 Secondary education at Fairview High School
  • 1975 Started studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.
  • 1976 Transferred to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
  • 1978 Graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations
  • 1979 Moved to the Basque Country at the very beginning of 1979 (January 1), starting in Pamplona, settling down in Lazkao and eventually ending up in Beasain. During that summer, I worked in a Basque farmhouse, hauling hay and cutting grass. The Morris dictionary project began in March, 1979.
  • October 1979-1981 Studied “Liberal Arts” at the University of Navarre in Pamplona
  • 1980 Lived in Finland during the summer. Taught English and studied Finnish.
  • 1982 Married Maite Larripa and then moved to Boulder, Colorado to pursue studies in linguistics
  • 1984 Graduated with an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics and an M.A. in General Linguistics from the University of Colorado. First child, Joanes, born. Moved to Zarautz, Gipuzkoa.
  • 1987 Second child, Garikoitz, born
  • 1988 Third child, Amaia, born. Morris Academy founded.
  • 1991 Acquired local citizenship.
  • 1995 Morris Academy moved to Trinitate Kalea, 8, 1
  • 1998 After 19 years, the fruits of the Morris dictionary finally saw the light with the publication of the Morris Student English-Basque Basque-English dictionary which, in the beginning, was printed in fascicles in the newspaper “Egunkaria”. The “Morris Student Plus” and “Morris Pocket” dictionaries were published in September of that year. Since then, the Morris dictionaries have not only become the main English-Basque Basque-English dictionaries, they have practically become the only ones.
  • 2001 B.A. (Licenciatura) in English Philology from the University of the Basque Country
  • 2002 The Morris Academy Dictionary was put online at the Basque Government website
  • 2004 Morris Academy moved to Santa Marina Kalea 3 behea

CV

Academic Curriculum Vitae

  • University of Colorado 1975-1976
  • Brigham Young University 1976-1978
  • Universidad de Navarra 1979-1981
  • University of Iowa 1981
  • University of Colorado 1982-1984
  • University of the Basque Country (Universidad del País Vasco – Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea) 1996-2001 (at present writing my dissertation)

 

Academic Degrees, Certificates and Diplomas

  • Bachelor of Arts Political Science (International Relations) from Brigham Young University(USA, 1978)
  • Master’s in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Colorado (USA, 1984)
  • Master’s in General Linguistics from the University of Colorado (USA, 1987); thesis entitled: “On the Incorporation of the Addressee in the Basque Verb”
  • Licenciature in English Philology from the University of the Basque Country (February, 2001)
  • English Proficiency Diploma issued by the Official Language School in Donostia
  • “D Maila” Diploma from the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (equivalent to the E.G.A. diploma), 1984
  • E.I.T certificate (Euskaraz Irakasteko Trebetasuna) issued by the Department of Education of the Basque Government 1994
  • Certificate of Proficiency in teaching through Basque, issued by the University of the Basque (2001)
  • Doctoral coursework completed, in the process of completing the dissertation.

 

Membership in Learned Societies

  • Member of the literature committee of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia) (1985-1987)
  • Member of the Basque-language Writers’ Association (Euskal Idazleen Elkartea) and member of the steering committee of said association 1987-1988.
  • Member of the Association of Basque Translators, Interpreters and Correctors (EIZIE)

 

Professional Experience

  • Teacher’s assistant of Spanish at the University of Iowa (1982)
  • Teacher’s assistant of Spanish at the University of Colorado (1983-1984)
  • Professor of Basque for the “University Studies in the Basque Country Consortium” programme (University of the Basque Country and the University of Nevada-Reno) (1986-1988)
  • Teacher at the Vocational School in Usurbil (1993-1994)
  • Teacher at the “Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea” (UEU or the Summer Basque University) in July, 1996 which the course entitled “Euskaratik Ingelesera itzultzea” was given.
  • Professor of Translation and Interpreting at the University of the Basque Country 2003
  • Owner and director of “Morris Academy, S.L.” (1988-), a school of English and publishing house.

 

Publications

  • English translator of Contemporary Basque Fiction published by the University of Nevada Press
  • Author of the English teaching programme (6th grade to senior year in High School) for the Gipuzkoako Ikastolen Elkartea (Gipuzkoa Ikastola Association) with a grant from the Basque Government (1987)
  • English translator of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae by Bernard Etxepare, published by the Royal Academy of the Basque Language, 1995
  • Author of the chapter on Basque in “Languages of Western Europe” published by “Lonely Planet Publications”., 1997
  • Author of the chapter on Basque in “Spain Phrasebook” published by “Lonely Planet Publications”., 1997
  • Translator of the Linguistic Atlas of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language- Euskaltzaindia, translated from Basqwue and Spanish into English, 1997
  • Author of the dictionary Morris Student Euskara-Ingelesa English-Basque, published by the Klaudio Harluxet Fundazioa, 1998. The on-line edition was launched on the Basque Government web site in 2001.
  • Author of the dictionary Morris Pocket Euskara-Ingelesa English-Basque, 1998 published by the Klaudio Harluxet Fundazioa.
  • Author of the Morris Magnum English-Basque dictionary which is the largest bilingual dictionary in Basque to date.
  • Work on the Morris Thai-English Dictionary in progress.
  • Work on the Morris Chinese-English Dictionary in progress.

 

Research Projects and Grants

  • A Grant for an English-Basque Basque-English dictionary was given by the Basque Government in 1985.
  • Project to put the Morris Student Plus hiztegia on-line at the Basque Government website located at www.euskadi.net/morris . The project was approved in early 2001 and the on-line dictionary went up in October 2001. It is the only Basque-English dictionary on the web and now includes many Basque etymologies and 45,000 English pronunciation sound files for both British and American pronunciations.
  • Grant given by the Spanish Parliament in 2006 for the largest English-Basque dictionary, indeed, largest bilingual Basque dictionary, ever published

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am confused. What is your name exactly, “Mikel Morris” or “Michael Morris”?

Both, to be exact. I have two, arguably three, nationalities. My American documentation has the name of my birth on it while the documentation from this country bears the Basque translation. I write “Mikel Morris” professionally for the simple reason that there are so many “Michael Morrises” in the world and hardly any “Mikel Morrises”. Also, most Basques outside the academy call me “Mikel” while most students at the academy call me “Michael”. Many people in Zarautz call me or simply refer to me as “Morris” although I am not particularly fond of that. Americans call me “Mike”. Finns call me “Mikko”, and in Thailand I am called ไม่ค์ “Mai”. In China, my name is 马梦书 “Mǎ Mèngshū”. It would seem, then, that I am a man of many names. 

 

2. How long did it take you to do your dictionaries?

The Morris Student dictionary took me about 19 years to do while the Morris Pocket Dictionary took much less time to do since it was based on the Morris Student dictionary. I started the dictionary on March 15, 1979 and it was not published until February, 1998. If I had had money and support at the outset, I would have finished long before. No one believed in me or my project because I was too young, unknown, and not from here. Experts told me that the project was too ambitious and that it would never ever see the light. The dictionary is a triumph of sheer persistence and determination and not paying attention to “experts”.

 

3. In your opinion, what is the best country to live in?

That is a very hard thing to answer. Every country has its positive and negative aspects. Usually, the best country for most people is where they were born, raised, and where they have family and friends. Since I moved around a lot when I was a child, I never developed deep roots. I have chosen to live in the Basque Country because I like many things here, e.g. the language, the food, the culture. However, I think that Boulder, Colorado is a very nice place to live but I recognize that there are other wonderful places to live in the world too.

 

4. What are you, American, Basque, Spanish, Martian, or what?

I was born in Colorado and spent the first 10 years in the U.S., the next three in Africa, came back to the U.S. and eventually wound up here. I feel a strong affinity for all of the places where I have lived. I have spent most of my life in Zarautz and although many people look upon me as just a “Yank”, I have strong feelings for the country I live in. In American, I am considered to be a kind of European, in the Basque Country I am just an American (sometimes mistaken for an Englishman) who happens to speak Basque. I am both and, at the same time, neither. I reject the title of world citizen since that implies that I would be home no matter where I am. While I am comfortable with people from all nationalities, races, religions, and ideologies, it is only in Zarautz where I truly feel completely “at home”. After all, I have lived over half of my life in Zarautz, longer than any other place where I have lived.

 

5. How many languages do you know?

Languages which I can read, speak, and write fluently:

English, Portuguese (my second native language), Basque (one of my languages through adoption), Spanish, Catalan, French (a bit rusty now), German (a bit rusty now), Italian, Afrikaans (getting a bit rusty)

Languages which I can read and/or speak, and write passably:

Thai , Chinese (busy studying it), Lao (only speak, can´t read it, but very similar to Thai), Cambodian (enough to get by), Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Esperanto

Languages which I can read with the aid of a dictionary:

Russian, Finnish, Welsh

 

6. How did you learn Basque? Why?

In 1975, I went with my Spanish teacher to take part in a homestay programme in Pamplona. One day, I was with relatives of the family that I was staying with. They were from Lekunberri. I noticed that I understood nothing except the Spanish swear words that they sprinkled liberally in their conversations. When I returned to Pamplona, I bought a book entitled “Como aprender el vasco fácilmente” which proved difficult indeed to learn from.I graduated a year early from my university and so, as it were, had a kind of sabbatical year. I decided to go back to the Basque Country to do something crazy: learn the language that I had heard in Lekunberri.Through friends of friends of friends, I made my way to Lazkao in January, 1979. The Benedictine fathers refused to admit to their Basque classes as they had already started in October. However, they did let me stay at one of their flats for a nominal fee. I was invited to “hang out” in the teachers’ room at the Alkartasuna Lizeoa in Beasain. I was very determined to learn Basque even though it was quite difficult since there was no TV, no newspapers, and very little radio. If that were not enough, many people didn’t even understand the Batua words that I used. Eventually, in spite of everything, I did learn Basque. I started my English-Basque dictionary because I was frustrated that there was none on hand.

 

7. What languages do you speak at home?

I speak English and Basque at home. My wife speaks English and Spanish. The kids, whatever. It is a veritable Tower of Babel.

 

8. Do you like to do things besides learning, teaching, or working with languages?

 

I like reading, playing my banjo, and running. I also enjoy having excellent dinners with my friends.

 

9. How did you come to live in Zarautz?

In 1984, I got a job at St. George’s English School in Donostia. I didn’t like the idea of living in Donostia (too congested for my taste) and liked the idea of living in a town on the coast. The choice was narrowed down to Hondarribia or Zarautz. I liked Zarautz more and that is how I came to live here. It’s as simple as that.

 

10. Many people see you running along the Zarautz promenade. How many kilometres do you run a day?

I try to run at least an hour a day. I run slowly but I keep at it. Endurance is more important than speed. I now run mostly at the Zarautz Malecon Spa.