ⓘ Basque language. Basque is the language spoken by the Basque people in the Basque Country and its diaspora. Although most other Europeans speak Indo-European la ..

Basque language

ⓘ Basque language

Basque is the language spoken by the Basque people in the Basque Country and its diaspora. Although most other Europeans speak Indo-European languages, Basque is a language isolate and is not related to them or to any other language in the world.


1. History and classification

The ancestors of Basques are among the oldest residents of Europe, and their origins are unknown, as are the origins of the language. Many scholars have tried to link Basque to Etruscan, African languages, Caucasian languages and so on, but most see Basque as a language isolate. A connection with the Iberian language has given some hope, but it is unclear whether similarities are caused by genetic relations or mere vicinity. It was spoken long before the Romans brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula.


2. Geographic distribution

Basque is spoken in an area that is smaller than what is known as the Basque Country Basque: Euskal Herria. Basque was once spoken over a larger area, but Latin took over in some places.


2.1. Geographic distribution Official status

Historically, Latin or a Romance language has been official.

Today Basque holds co-official language status in the Basque regions of Spain: the full autonomous community of the Basque Country and some parts of Navarre. Basque has no official standing in the Northern Basque area of France, and French citizens are barred from using Basque in a French court of law.


2.2. Geographic distribution Derived languages

There is now a unified version called Batua "unified" in Basque, which is the language taught in schools. Batua is based largely on the Gipuzkoa regional dialect.


3. Grammar

Basque is an ergative-absolutive language. Its grammar is very complex, with many different cases for nouns.

The vowel system is the same as most Spanish-speakers and has five pure vowels, /i e a o u/.


4. Vocabulary

By contact with nearby peoples, Basque has borrowed words from Latin, Spanish, French, Gascon and others but accepted fewer than Indo-European languages. Some claim that many of its words come from Latin, but phonetic evolution has made many of them now appear as if they were native words, e.g. lore "flower", from florem, errota, gela "room", from cellam.


5. Writing system

Basque is written with the Latin alphabet. The universal special letter is ñ, which is pronounced like the in onion, and ç and u are also used. Basque does not use c, q, v, w, y except for loanwords and are not considered part of the alphabet. Also, x is pronounced as a sh, as in shine.


6. Sample phrases

  • Lasai = Take it easy
  • Egun on, bai = Standard reply to Egun on
  • Eskerrik asko! = Thank you!
  • Bai = Yes
  • Non dago tren-geltokia? = Where is the train station?
  • Ba al dakizu ingelesez? = Do you speak English?
  • Garagardoa nahi nuke = Can I have a beer?
  • Geldi! = Stop
  • Komunak = Toilets
  • Ez dakit euskaraz = I do not speak Basque
  • Zorionak = Happy holidays During Christmas and new years, congratulations
  • Non dago.? = Where is.?
  • Egun on = Good morning literally: Good day
  • Kafe ebakia nahi nuke = Can I have a macchiato?
  • Non dago autobus-geltokia? = Where is the bus station?
  • Badakizu euskaraz? = Do you speak Basque?
  • Kafesnea nahi nuke = Can I have a cafe latte?
  • Ez dut nahi = I do not want
  • Gabon = Good night
  • Komuna, non dago? = Where are the toilets?
  • Ez = No
  • Mesedez = Please
  • Nongoa zara? = Where are you from?
  • Agur!, Adio! = Goodbye!
  • Kafe hutsa nahi nuke = Can I have a coffee?
  • Hementxe! = Over / right here!
  • Bai ote? = Really?
  • Kaixo!, = Hello
  • Topa! = Cheers!
  • Aizu! = Listen!
  • Arratsalde on = Good evening
  • Barkatu = Excuse me
  • Ba al da hotelik hemen inguruan? = Where is the nearest, only hotel?
  • Ikusi arte = See you!


7. Other websites

  • FONATARI, all about the sounds of basque.
  • Center for Basque Studies at University of Nevada, Reno
  • Basque Museum and Cultural Center
  • Ethnologue report for Basque
  • Concise course of Basque


  • A proposal for Basque SAMPA
  • Larry Trask: Some Important Basque Words And a Bit of Culture Archived 2005-12-20 at the Wayback Machine
  • Basque Verb Tables Archived 2005-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  • University of the Basque Country: A Brief Grammar of Euskara, the Basque Language
  • Larry Trask: A Linguistic Sketch of Basque Archived 2005-12-15 at the Wayback Machine