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Language Information


Basque stands alone among the languages of Europe. Despite many efforts, no connection between Basque and any other language has ever been proven. Structural similarities with certain languages in Asia have been noted, but as yet it must be considered a completely isolated and independent language.

Basque is spoken on both sides of the Spanish-French border by about one million people. Of these, about 900,000 are in Spain, living mainly in the provinces of Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya, and Navarra. in France they live in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the southwestern corner of the country. Bilbao, the capital of Vizcaya, is the major city of the Basque region. Most Basques are bilingual, speaking Spanish or French (or both) in addition to their own language.

There are a number of widely divergent dialects of Basque. In some the language is known as Euskaro, in others Eskuara. The letter z is pronounced s (e.g., zazpi—seven), while the unusual combination tx is pronounced ch (etxe—house). There is both a soft r and a hard r, the latter usually spelled r (crege—king). The definite article is merely the suffix -a (gizon—man, gizona—the man), while the plural is formed with the suffix -k (gizonak—the men).

As the only non-Indo-European language of Western Europe, Basque would appear to be the sole survivor of those languages spoken there before the Indo-Europeans arrived. It was probably part of an extended group that included not only Basque but other languages of southern Europe as well.

The name of the game of jai alai comes from Basque. Jai means "festival" in Basque, while alai means "joyous."


Basque is spoken/used in the following countries:
France, Spain.

Language Family
Family: Independent


Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.


Writing Sample


Writing Sample

Translation


Long ago, a short time before the plants, the birds, the animals, and all creeping and crawling things forgot their language, there lived a king, a sincere, frank, generous man, a king who loved his subjects. Re had a son who was a good-for-nothing, conceited, hard-hearted, and with no compassion for the subjects. The characters of the father and son were as different as the two sides of a coin. The most outstanding of all the father's good qualities was that he treated his subjects as his own children. in contrast, the son's most obvious failing was that he looked on them as creatures of another world. It goes without saying that the people of the realm had great affection for the father but none at all for the son.