Alternative name(s): Euskara (eu), Baskisch (nl), baskiska (sv)
Language family: isolated language
Geographical use: Basque country (northeast of Spain + southwest of France)
Information: There are between 500 and
700 thousand speakers. For a long time linguists have tried to determine
the origin of this language. They have tried to link it to the Iberian
language, to Liguric, or to a Caucasian language,
but without success. It was without doubt spoken in the old Aquitaine
(the current Gascogne). The first Basque book was printed in 1545 and
consisted of some religeous and love poems. The most important Basque
piece of work was the translation of the New Testament of 1571. During
Franco's dictatorship the Basque language was fully suppressed. It was
again allowed in the sixties and in 1980 Basque was elected the official
language in the Basque country.
The grammatical rules for nouns are rather simple. The conjugation of verbs on the other hand is extremely complicated. The transitive form of a verb can be constructed in 24 different ways. The original Basque vocabulary did not know any words for abstract objects or tools. In order to refer to those things, Basque used Latin, Spanish or French words and gave them a Basque ending. In this way the French fourchette (fork) was converted into fourchetta. Basque uses the Roman alphabet and is pronounced as it is written.