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buber.net > Basque > Euskara > The Basque Alphabet
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The Basque Alphabet

The following is from Gorka Aulestia's Basque-English dictionary, which I recommend highly:

"The sounds represented by the alphabet do not offer great difficulty to English-speaking persons. According to Euskaltzaindia, the Academy of the Basque Language, the Basque alphabet is as follows:

Letter  Bq.name Approx. pronunciation in English
a       a       far
b       be      bat
d       de      down
e       e       get
f       efe     favor
g       ge      got
h       hatxe   house
i       i       marine
j       jota    hot; yet
k       ka      king
l       ele     league
m       eme     mayor
n       ene     narrow
n~      en~e    o[ni]on
o       o       coat
p       pe      people
r       erre    be[dd]ing
s       ese     sea
t       te      tea
u       u       boot
x       ekitz   fi[sh]
z       zeta    miss

Three letters, h, j, and r, merit further explanations. The letter h is a phoneme of the dialects of the northern Basque Country (L, LN, Z) but does not appear in the southern dialects (B, G). It was the cause of many disputes at the time unification of the language was proposed. ...

Normally j is pronounced like the _h_ in English "horrible", but in some areas and in Unified Basque it is pronounced like the _y_ in English "yes". [More could be said about this. JA]

Between two vowels _r_ is soft as in the English name "Teddy," but in other instances it is very strongly rolled like the Spanish rr." [The "rolled" or trill _r_ between vowels is written, like in Spanish, rr. JA]

Compound letters ... are as follows

dd      de-bikoitza     palatalized d (no English equivalent)
ll      ele-bikoitza    mi[lli]on (palatalized l)
rr      erre-bikoitza   Spanish Roma or perro (rolled r)
ts      te-ese          i[t s]ure is
tt      te-bikoitza     palatalized t (no English equivalent)
tx      te-ekitz        [ch]ocolate
tz      te-zeta         fatso

Jon Aske e-mail: jaske@abacus.bates.edu

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