Basque – A Language of Mystery

*music plays* Hello everyone, welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul. Yes that’s right, today the Langfocus channel
has reached 50,000 subscribers. This is a big day for me. When I started my channel, I always had the dream in mind, the goal in mind, of reaching 50,000 subscribers, and I thought that was kind of the pinnacle.
Now, it seems that is an achievable goal, and … we’ll see how much further I can get than fifty thousand But for now I have achieved my initial goal
and that’s really great, really exciting for me. So thank you for all of your support! So onto today’s topic: Imagine that there was a mysterious language in Europe
that was surrounded on all sides by languages
that it had absolutely no connection with. Well there actually is a language like that.
The language is the Basque language. Basque is a language isolate, meaning that
it has no known connection to any other language. It’s located in Europe,
but it is not an Indo-European language. It forms its own language family and it is quite distinct,
very different, from Indo-European languages It is spoken by the Basque people in the Basque country, a region that spans the Spain-France border
in the western-most Pyrenees mountains. It is not spoken by all Basques, but by
around 27% of them in the Basque country overall. The number of native speakers is 714,135
out of a total population of 2,648,998, and that includes about 663,000 on the Spanish side,
and 51,100 on the French side. It is an official language at the regional level in Spain,
in the Basque Autonomous Community, and in Navarre. In France, it holds no official status. The origins of the Basque language are shrouded in mystery. As I said before, it is a language isolate. It is thought to be the last remaining language
that existed in Europe before the arrival
of the Indo-European languages. There are some other pre-Indo-European
languages in the Caucasus Region,
but Basque is the only one in Western Europe. There is conclusive evidence that Basque is
a descendant of the Aquitanian language, which
is an ancient language spoken in the Pyrenees region. Some similarities are known between Aquitanian
and the ancient Iberian language,
so some people think that they might be related. But those similarities might just be due to geographic proximity and mutual influence. We don’t know. Some linguists suggest that Aquitanian was part of
a wider language family called the Vasconic languages, which covered most of Europe before the arrival
of the Indo-European languages. But, again, we don’t know. Other people draw a connection between Basque
and other non-Indo-European languages
like the Caucasian languages. But again… (Let me guess, we don’t know?) that’s right, we don’t know. One thing we do know is that the Basque people,
who descend mostly from farmers who arrived
in the area around 6,000 years ago, were isolated from the outside world for thousands of years. That’s probably partly because of
the Basque country’s forested mountain terrain, and its lack of tempting resources
that prevented invasion. This isolation is probably what allowed their language to
survive and develop into the Basque language of today. Of course, there were Latin borrowings into the language, and there have been other Romance language borrowings throughout the centuries, but nothing like the total disappearance
of other pre-Latin languages in that area. Basque was a unified language until the Middle Ages,
when it began to diverge into dialects, because of administrative and political divisions within the Basque country. Despite being ruled by outside regimes
throughout the centuries, the Basque country still remained isolated
and relatively uninfluenced by the outside world,
and that includes the language. But when Francisco Franco became ruler of Spain
in 1939, the use of Basque was heavily suppressed, because Franco wanted to assimilate
all of Spain into castilian culture. It was forbidden to speak Basque in schools
and in public. It was banned from media
and removed from public services. This led to a big reduction in the number of people
who could speak the Basque language, and that’s part of the reason that only 27% of people
in the Basque country speak the language today. In the 1960s, that suppression was eased somewhat,
and Basque language schools became permitted, and the language began being used
in publications and in education again. This led to the creation of a standardised language called Euskara Batua. It was developed by the Basque Language Academy,
or the “Euskaltzaindia”, and it was intended to be comprehensible
to the speakers of the various dialects of Basque. There are 5 main Basque dialects: Bizkaian
or Western Basque, Gipuzkoan or Central Basque, Upper Navarese, Navarro-Lapurdian,
and Souletin in France. These dialects correspond with
the historic provinces of the Basque country, but they don’t completely correspond
with the modern provinces of today. The level of intelligibility depends on the distance between those two dialects on the dialect continuum, with the most distant dialects
having trouble understanding each other. But that’s where the standard language,
Euskara Batua, comes in.
So, what is the Basque language like? Well, its vocabulary has been influenced by the surrounding Romance languages to some extent. But when you look at its structure,
you’ll see that it is unlike any Romance language, or like any Indo-European language for that matter. Basque has grammatical cases, 12 cases to be exact, but that is not really unusual in Indo-European languages, but it has something called the “ergotive case”. That means that there’s a special form of the noun
when it’s the subject of a sentence and takes a transitive verb. That means it has a direct object. This ergotive case
is marked by a “k” at the end of the noun. Now, along with the ergotive case,
there’s also something called the “absolutive case”. This is for subjects of intransitive verbs,
meaning that it has no direct object, and in this case there is no ending
on the end of the noun. Well, let’s take a look at a couple of sentences. [Basque-speaking voice: umea kalean erori da] That means, “The child fell in the street”,
but if we look at it word by word,
you can see the interesting structure of Basque, Word-by-word it’s “child-the”, “street-the-in”, “fall”, “is”. If we look at the first word there: “ume” is child,
but then the definite article is the “a” at the end. Then for the next word, “kalean”, “kale” is street,
and then the definite article is “a”,
and then “in” is the “n” at the end of the word. If we look at the next word, “erori”,
that’s a verb meaning “fall”, but it’s in the Perfect Aspect,
that means it shows the completed action. And then the auxiliary verb comes after the main verb,
and this one means “is”.
It’s the present-tense form of “to be”. And another sentence, [Basque-speaking voice:
gizonak umeari liburua eman dio] That means “The man has given the book to the child”. So, word-by-word, “man-the”, in the ergotive case. “child-the”, dative case, “book-the”, “given”, “has” The first word is “gizonak”, “gizon” is “man”, then
the definite article is “a”, and the the ergotive case is “k”. “umeari”, that’s “child”. Again, “child” is “ume”,
and then this time it has the definite article, “a”,
and then it has the dative case marker, “ri”, at the end The dative case basically shows
who or what is being affected by the action. The next word, “liburua”, “liburu” is “book”,
and “a” is the definitive article, and this one looks
like a loan word from a romance language, and the next word, “eman” is a verb,
and it’s in the Perfect Aspect,
showing that the action has been completed. And then the auxiliary verb, dio,
comes after, and that means “has”. And the next sentence, [Basque-speaking voice: emakumeak gizona ikusi du] That means, “The woman has seen the man”. So, word-by-word, “woman-the” ergotive case,
“Man-the”, “seen”, “has”. So the first word, “emakumeak”, “emakume” is “woman”,
“the” is the “a”, and the ergotive case is the “k”. The next word, “gizona”, that’s “the man”,
and the definite article again, the next word is “ikusi”, which means “seen”,
and again, that’s a verb with the Perfect aspect
showing the action’s completed. And then the auxiliary verb comes
at the end, and it means “has”. As you can see, the Basque language
is very different from any Indo-European language, very different from any language that I’ve [ever] studied,
but it also looks quite logical and systematic. It would be a shame to lose a language that’s so unique
and that connects us with the ancient history of Europe. The number of Basque speakers
has sharply declined over the last century, but there are efforts in Spain to revive the language,
and to make it more widespread again, and hopefully such efforts will continue
and become more prominent in France as well. Thank you for watching the LangFocus channel. I want to say thanks again to all of my Patreon supporters, you guys are awesome, I appreciate you, Thanks to all those other people who volunteered in different ways by creating subtitles for videos, or offering to write some scripts for GeoFocus,
or all of those things. Also be sure to check out the LangFocus
Facebook account, Twitter account, and Instagram, because I’m often on there, and that’s a way to keep in touch,
and always know when I have new content being released. Thank you for watching and have a nice day. [Subtitled de amor by @dangeredwolf]

37 Replies to “Basque – A Language of Mystery

  1. Bideo ona, eskerrik asko euskal herriari buruz hitz egiteagatik. Nik uste, gaur egun %27a baino gehiagok hitz egiten dugula euskaraz eta pixkanaka gehiago garela.

    Buen vídeo, muchas gracias por hablar sobre el país vasco. Yo creo que hoy en día más del 27% hablamos en euskera y poco a poco somos más.

  2. Cette langue est remarquable autant que le paysage des montagnes nombreux mots sont du bérbère une
    étude sèrieuse devrait démontrer la
    filliation avec la langue des anciens
    peuple des Menhirs et des Dolmens

  3. veo que no tienes ningún rigor a la hora de contar las cosas. Pues es una pena, sobre todo cuando te mira tanta gente. Que sepas que les mientes a la cara.
    Por cierto, según estudios de la universidad vasca, el vasco llegó a la península Ibérica unos siglos después del fin de los romanos.
    Por cierto, el dictador Franco, que fue un cabronazo, hizo de todo menos prohibir el vasco. Simplemente hizo lo que se hacía antes y lo que se hacía en toda Europa, dar las clases en un sólo idioma, el español.
    Cuentas la historia de los separatistas, que estos a su vez se fundamentan en los "historiadores" del romanticismo.. en fin.

  4. over 700 words are identical in Armenian,,same meaning..from the works of Basqilogist..Vahan Sarkisian..English Linguist Edward Spencer Dodgson (1857 1922) , also noticed the identical words shared while happening to study Armenian. Bernardo Estornes Lasa reports of finding Basqu folklore in the village of Isaba, and their homeland of Armenia..for details on the sunject see the book Armenian origins of Basque, V.Setyan…

  5. According to Robert Ellis, The Armenians influenced early Europe during pre historic times…that's why we find Armenian all over the world….(for details see the book..Language as a fingerprint..Setyan…

  6. ,,, so is this the derived language of the first farmers in to Europe from Anatolia… in the neolithic / Copper Age, but not the language of the Western Hunter Gatherers who were in Western Europe before in the Mesolithic..? – or.. "WE DON'T KNOW"…

    or am I barking up the wrong track

  7. They may not have had books until introduction from Romance languages. My friend is Portuguese and they have some English words in there simply because there was no word for it until Americans starting have influence. Rather than make one up, they just use the American version as the Portuguese version.

  8. Fascinating language
    I visited the Basque Region this summer, in both France and Spain. It seemed to be more widely spoken in Spain. We went to restaurants for example and the waiter was trying to teach us some Basque words haha and we saw Basque inscriptions in various places, not so much in the french part, from what I saw I least.

  9. I wonder how this could compare in things like trying to be erased, replaced, or how the different areas of the country are more/less likely to speak the language, and have different dialects with Welsh. I have always wondered since this sounds quire similar in history, at least.


    1º Se puede colaborar con un mínimo de 2 horas a la semana

    2º Es un voluntariado flexible, se puede dejar en fines de semana, vacaciones, o causas de

    fuerza mayor… Otro voluntario recogerá el testigo

    3º Los requisitos son ser apasionados del euskera y bilingües, tener por lo menos trece

    años de edad

    4ª Hay cuatro profesores de Euskera, que controlaran y verificaran el buen proceso de las


    5º Desde el primer momento de inscribirse candidato a voluntario, sea elegido o no, tendrá la opción

    de aprender un idioma gratuito a su elección

    6º Todo el proceso de elección de candidatos, lo realizará Duolingo, y la puesta en contacto

    con los seleccionados

    7º El primer paso es registarse en, allí ya escoges un idioma para

    aprender gratuitamente

    8º Entrar en y rellenar la solicitud

    9º Si hay dudas de cómo rellenar la solicitud y todas las demás dudas del curso se resolverán en

    este foro

    10ºOfrecemos buen ambiente, posibilidad de aprender idiomas gratis y todas las ventajas

    educativas de Duolingo

    11º Muchas gracias, Oso ondo; eskerrik asko, eta animo!

    Cómo crear cuenta duolingo y unirse a una sección

  11. Basque language(Euskara) is familiar with Peten native tribe in Guatemala.Basque jesuit came in 16.century to Peten tribe and they understand 75-80% of word what he say.Probably Basque and Native american languages have comon rutes in Atlantis!

  12. My daughters choir sang a Basque Christmas carol last night. I had to find out where Basque is. Great video and very educational.

  13. Dude as a I never knew what ergativity meant until that one paragraph.
    "ergative case = a special form of the noun when it's the subject of a sentence and it takes a transitive verb"

  14. Basques should reclaim their land in Spain and France, and become an independent country. It's a shame that a unique culture and people like that don't have their own country.

  15. This is arguably the most unique and mysterious language in all the world and possibly oldest in human history still used. It must be preserved at all costs.

  16. My mom told me that she heard that Basque believe they are derived from Greece and they wanted to break away from Spain as a separate country so curious to see this.

  17. Interesting I was curious because of my last name .. I do know that my grandpa is from Spain but that’s about it . Mystery lol 😂

  18. I like the theory that after the Greeks destroyed Atlantis, the people of Atlantis fled to the modern day Basque country and that's where the language evolved from. (If only it were true)

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