Basque languageBasque or Euskara (ISO 639 codes eu, baq/eus) is the non-Indo-European language spoken by the Basque people, who live in northern Spain and the adjoining area of southwestern France. This region is known as the Basque Country, or Euskal Herria in Basque. The ancestors of Basques are among the ancient inhabitants of Europe, and their origins are still unknown as are the origins of their language itself. Many 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 Romanss brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula.
By contact with neighbouring peoples, Basque has borrowed words from Latin, Spanish, French, Gascon etc. Some studies claim 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 haitz- (rock). For example, haiztoa (knife), haizkora (axe).
Now there are eight dialects, which do not match with the political divisions. One of the first scientific studies of Basque was made by Louis-Lucien Bonaparte, a descendant of Napoleon. There is now a unified version of Euskara called Batua ("unified" in Basque), which is the language taught in schools. Batua is based largely on the Gipuzkoa regional dialect.
Basque has some grammatical forms unusual in Europe, 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 is singular or plural, and the indirect object). This system (inflection of the auxiliary) is only found in Basque and some Caucasian languages.
For example, in the phrase:
- Martinek egunkariak erosten dizkit
- di- marks a verb with both a direct object and an indirect one, in the present tense;
- -zki- is the number of the direct object (in this case the newspapers; if it were singular there would be no suffix); and
- -t is the indirect object mark: "for me".
The accent in Basque is:
In Spanish for example it is: