Euskara, Language of the Basques
Euskara is spoken in the Basque Country, straddling the border between Spain and France, by about 3 million people. Until recently a rural language, Euskara is characterized by a relatively large number of dialects, especially considering the small geographical region in which it is spoken. Beginning in the 1970s, efforts have been made to make a unified Basque, called Batua. There are now television, radio, newspaper, and books in Euskara. While still a language spoken by relatively few people, it is experiencing a revival that offers promise of a future.
The Basque language is what is known as a language isolate - it has no known living relatives. It is the only isolate in western Europe. For this reason, it is of great interest to linguists.
- General Introduction
This very basic introduction of Euskara is from Grolier Encyclopedia.
- Description of Euskara
Contributed by Larry Trask
This introduction to Euskara by Larry Trask is much more detailed, going into the history of Euskara, the morphology and phonology, and the number system. Also included is a set of references.
Scholarly Information and Research
A great deal of scholarly research has been devoted to Euskara, because of its unique situation in Europe and the possible mirror it offers to the prehistory of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe more generally.
- Larry Trask
Larry Trask was a highly regarded expert on the Basque language, especially its history and origins. He passed away on March 28, 2004, while working on an etymological dictionary of Basque. The articles in the collected postings cover everything from the origins of the Basque words for the colors to how Basque pronunciation has evolved.
- Collected postings by Larry Trask
- Archive of Larry Trask's Website
- Martin Haase
Euskara and the Media
One reason for the continued revival of the Basque language is its widening use in media, including television and radio.
Learning Euskara, or Basque, can be a daunting task for an English speaker as the structure of Euskara is very different from English. It is my understanding, however, that the structure is similar to Japanese and is thus a bit easier for Japanese speakers.
- Some Starting Points
- Kamil's Graphical Learning Aids
Kamil created these graphical aids to introduce basic Basque vocabulary related to the house and to the chemical elements.
- Etxea / The House
- The Elements
- Maria S. Santisteban's Basque Lessons
- Javier Herrera's Lesson Translations
Another set of introductory Basque lessons, these were created by Javier Herrera and appear here with his permission.
- Useful Phrases
- Online Courses
- Other Online Resources
Euskara and Other Languages
Though Euskara is a language isolate, it has had extensive contact with many other languages. In fact, pidgins combining Euskara with both Micmac and Icelandic developed over the course of Basque contact with other cultures during their explorations of the seas.
The Basque language is, to me, fascinating, as it stresses such different things than does English, in terms of word order and how verbs are formed. Here are a few tid-bits about the language.
Declension and Conjugation Tables
One of the most amazing features of the Basque language is the construction of verbs, which is mostly done via one auxilliary verb which indicates just about every aspect of action: subject, object (both direct and indirect), time, tense, condition, etcetera.
- HTML Versions
- PDF Versions
There are a number of organization with the goal of promoting, defending and protecting the Basque language.
Authors and Literature
Basque literature had a slow start, especially considering that the language wasn't standardized until 1976, but it is gaining momemtum. Probably one of the most well known Basque authors is Bernardo Atxaga, author of Obabakoak.
This page is part of Buber's Basque Page and is maintained by Blas Uberuaga.
Please report any problems or suggestions to Blas.