Basque (euskara)

Basque is a language with no known linguistic relatives spoken by about 660,000 people mainly in the Basque country (Euskal Herria) in the north of Spain and the south west of France.

An ancestral form of Basque known as Aquitanian appears in Roman inscriptions in Aquitaine, in the southwest of France. The inscriptions consist of the names of people and gods plus a few other words and were inscribed during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

Basque first appeared in writing in Latin religious texts, the Glosas Emilianenses, dating from the 11th century. The first published book in Basque was a collection of poems entitled Linguae Vasconum Primitiae, published by Bernard Detchepare in 1545.

For centuries there was no standard orthography, and Basque was written with Romance spelling conventions supplemented by various additional devices to represent sounds not present in Romance languages. During the early years of the 20th century, a bizarre and impractical orthography employing a blizzard of pointless diacritics was widely used; this largely disappeared after the Spanish Civil War. In 1964 the Royal Basque Language Academy (Euskaltzaindia) promulgated a new standard orthography; this met some resistance at first but is now almost universally used.

Basque alphabet & pronunciation

Basque alphabet & pronunciation

Sample texts in Basque

Gizon-emakume guztiak aske jaiotzen dira, duintasun eta eskubide berberak dituztela; eta ezaguera eta kontzientzia dutenez gero, elkarren artean senide legez jokatu beharra dute.

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Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Iberiar Penintsulan bizirik dirauen erromatarren aurreko hizkuntza bakarra da euskara. Gutxitze prozesu gogorra jasan du, etenik gabe lurraldeak eta hiztunak galduz. Nafarroa Garaian bereziki, prozesu hori nabarmena da. XIX. mendearen bukaeran eta XX. mendearen hasieran, hainbat intelektual eta politikariren eraginez (Arturo Kanpion, Sabino Arana...) nolabait biziberritu zen, abertzaletasunari estuki loturik. Frankismoan (1936-1977) jazarpen latza pairatu ondoren, XX. mendearen erdialdetik aurrera hasi da indartzen, idatzizko estandarizazioari dagokionean, batez ere.

Listen to a recording of this text by Unai Fernandez de Betoño

Translation

Basque is the unique pre-Roman language that survives in the Iberian Peninsula. It has suffered a dire retreat and loss regarding its speakers and territory. This process was especially notable in the High Navarre. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the efforts of various intellectuals and politicians (e.g. Arturo Kanpion and Sabino Arana), the language experienced a certain blooming, widely related to the Basque nationalism. After suffering from strong persecution during the Franco era (1936--1977), it has started to make a come back during the second half of the 20th century, especially regarding the standardization of the written language.

Sample video in Basque

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Information about Basque | Basque phrases | Tower of Babel in Basque | Basque learning materials

Links

Information about Basque
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_language
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/european_languages/languages/basque.shtml

Online Basque lessons
http://asignoret.free.fr/eskuara.html
http://www.santurtzieus.com
http://www.hizkimizki.com

Basque phrases
http://wikitravel.org/en/Basque_phrasebook
http://www.101languages.net/basque/basics.html
http://www.ontariobasqueclub.dantzariak.net/esaldiak.htm

Online Basque dictionaries
http://www.lexilogos.com/english/basque_dictionary.htm
http://www1.euskadi.net/morris/dictionary.htm
http://www.lexicool.com/dictionnaire-traduction-basque.asp
http://www.diccionarios.com

Basque Grammar
http://www.ehu.es/grammar/

Basque text-to-speech
http://aholab.ehu.es/tts/

Online Basque Radio
http://www.eitb.com

Online Basque news
http://www.gara.net
http://www.berria.info

Tweets in Basque
http://indigenoustweets.com/eu/

Language isolates

Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Eskayan, Haida, Karuk, Korean, Mapuche, Nivkh, Purepecha, Seri, Sumerian, Wardaman

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet