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
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
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.
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.
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.