Monday, August 25, 2014

Language Profile: Basque

This week we're taking a brief look at Basque, a language spoken in parts of Spain and France. Unlike most other world languages, it is a language isolate, something we have discussed at length in a previous post. Language isolates such as Basque and Korean are thought to have no relationship with other languages, and therefore comprise their very own language family. 

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Basque is spoken by the Basque people, an ethnic group that lives in the Basque Country, a region in northeast Spain and southwest France. In Spain, the Basque language is recognized as an official language in the autonomous communities of the Basque Country and Navarre alongside Spanish. However, the language has no official status in France. 

The lexicon of Basque contains many words borrowed from Romance languages spoken in the region throughout the centuries, including Latin, Spanish, and Occitan. The language is written using the Basque alphabet, a Latin-based alphabet that includes the letters ñ and ç

A standardized version of Basque known as Euskara Batua is the most commonly used variety of the language. It was developed in the 1960s by Euskaltzaindia, the Basque language academy which regulates the language. It is used throughout the Basque Country in schools as well as in forms of media such as television, radio, and print publications.