Basque language

From Wikipedia

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

Basque or Euskara is the non-Indo-European language spoken by the Basque people, who live in northeastern Spain and the adjoining area of southwestern France. This region is known as the Basque country, or Euskal-herria in Basque. The Basques are among the ancient inhabitants of Europe, and their origins are still unknown as are the origins of their language itself. Lots of people have tried to link Basque to Etruscan, African languages, Caucasian languages and so on, but most scholars see Basque as an isolated language. It was spoken long before the Romans brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula. By contact with neighbouring peoples, Basque has borrowed words from Latin, Spanish, French, etc. Some studies say that half of its words come from Latin. Some other words are thought to go back to the Stone Age because they include the root "aiz-" (stone). For example, Aiztoa (knife), aizkora (axe). Now there are eight dialects, that do not match with the political divisions. One of the first studies about the basque was made by a descendent of Napoleon Bonaparte. Nowadays, there´s a unified version of the euskara called batua (united in basque), which is the language taught in schools. It´s a version based mostly in the dialect from Gipuzkoa.

Basque has some unique grammatical forms, such as the ergative case, which forces the addition of a -k to the subject when it has a transitive verb. The auxiliary verb also reflects the number of the direct object, so the auxiliary verb can contain a lot of information (about the subject, the number of direct object, if it´s singular or plural, and the indirect object). This system is only found in some caucasian languages.

For example if you say:

Martinek egunkariak erosten dizkit

which means Martin buys me the newspapers, Martine-k is the subject, so it has the -k ending. The verb is "erosten dizkit", in which "erosten" means "buy" and the auxiliary "dizkit" indicates a plural direct object: di- is the form for transitive verbs with a direct object; -zki- is the number of the direct object (in this case the newspapers; if it were singular you wouldn´t have to add anything); and -t is the indirect object mark for to me.

Palatalization is quite typical of Basque pronunciation, where "tt" and "dd" are /t_j/ and /d_j/ respectively. "s", "z" and "x" are sibilants, the latter designates /S/, the first is apical and the second laminal. The function of stress in Basque is generally not understood. "j" is pronounced as [d_j], [S], [X], [j] or [Z] according to region. The vowel system is the same as Spanish for most speakers, namely /a, e, i, o, u/. Some speakers also have /y/. It is thought that the Spanish took that system from basque.
The accent in basque is:
In spanish for example is: