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Minoritized languages moodboard: Basque

Basque (Euskara) is a language isolate (not related to any other living language) spoken by the Basque people, who live in the Basque Country (Euskal Herria) which nowadays is administratively divided in the states of Spain and France.

For @thewickedandthehufflepuff

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What comes to mind when you think of Spain? The cities of Barcelona and Madrid? Running of the bulls or tomato throwing (La Tomatina) festivals?

If you look at a map, Spain itself is quite extensive; it’s the second largest country in Europe. In saying that, you can imagine that there is just so much to see in such a large country.

Today, I’m going to share some photos of an area of North-Western Spain called the “Basque country” (Pays Basque / Pais Vasco [FR/ES]).

The history of the Basque country is so old, that the language itself cannot be traced back or connected to any modern day or any dormant/extinct languages; thus, the Basque language (Euskara) is considered an isolated language, leaving linguistic researchers baffled and confused. Some research has revealed the the roots of the language have been around for as long as 20,000 years and almost 1 million people still speak it until this day.

A majority of the Basque population has type O- blood and their genes have been heavily linked to the Neanderthals.

The Basque country is divided into seven provinces or more formerly known as “administrative districts”. Four of them are in Spain and the other three are in South-Western France, bordering Spain.

I’m proud to have strong family roots to this mystical land and hope to soon explore more of the gems it has to offer!

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Hey y’all! This is the first video in my new vlog series called PopLangauge. In this first video I’m taking a look at Basque.

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This song is too catchy!! Basque folk-rock band Huntza (”ivy”) sings this chant to nature called “Aldapan gora” (”Up the slope”) in a STUNNING scenery we have visited ourselves, haha!

Mendian gora burua                                     Climbing the mountains
galtzen dut maiz                                            I often lose my mind
Herriko kaleetan sarritan                              In the streets of my village
galdu izan naiz                                              I’ve usually got lost
Nork bereizi zituen kultura,                          Who classified culture,
lurra, sua eta ura?                                         earth, fire and water?
Gizakion arteko lotura                                  Isn’t nature also the bond
ere ez al da natura?                                       between human beings?

Errepika:                                                         Chorus:
Aldapan gora, pausorik pauso                    Up the slope, step by step
Aldapan behera, auzorik auzo                Down the slope, person by person
Gaztainondo ta pago,                                   Chestnut trees and beeches,
eskultura arraro,                                            strange sculptures,
kaleak edo mendiak                                     what ruins us more,
zer galtzen gaitu gehiago? (x2)                    the city or the mountains? (x2)      
Berriro galduta gabiltza,                               We walk lost again,
hau da hau marka!                                         what a mess!
Ezin da ulertu aurrean                                   The map we have in front of us
daukagun mapa                                             can’t be understood
Euskaldun peto-peto!                                    Real Basque!
Bai, baina ardi galduen pare                         Yes, but we’re like lost sheep
Nahiago det ibili, halare,                                I prefer, however, to walk
norabiderik gabe                                            without a direction

Errepika (x2)                                                    Chorus (x2)

Gu bixok, jolasten ezagutu giñen
gu bixok, jolasten lagun egin giñen.
Eta parkien alkarren alboan jarritte.
Denbora, ez zan esistitzen guretzat.
Urtiek eurrera egin eben eta
alkarren ondoan jarraitzen genduan
eta kalien alkarren eskutik joan giñen
baiña egun baten, iñori ezer esan barik
infernue ezagutu zendun
bizixek ihes egin eutsunn
urrundu egin ziñen eta orain
zutunik nago
zuri lorak eskeintzen
amaitu jatzu bizixe
sentitzen nago
zuri lorak eskeintzen
amaitu jatzu bizixe.

Ergativity in Basque

Basque is what is known as an ergative-absolutive language, which opposes the standard Indo-European nominative-accusative format (you can read more about the different ‘alignments’ here).

What this means, is that its case system works in a slightly different way to the rest of the European languages, like Latin. In such languages you have a nominative case which marks the subject of a transitive/intransitive verb, and an accusative case which marks the object of a transitive verb.

e.g. An intransitive sentence in Latin has a nominative subject:

Puella pulchra est.
The girl is beautiful.

And a transitive sentence has a nominative subject and an accusative object:

Vir puellam vidit.
The man saw the girl.

However, in Basque, the cases work in a different way. You have an absolutive case, or the citation form, which marks the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. The ergative case marks just the subject of a transitive verb.

e.g. An intransitive sentence has an absolutive subject:

Neska polita da.
The girl is beautiful.

And a transitive sentence has an ergative subject and an absolutive object:

Gizonak neska ikusi du.
The man saw the girl.

And I think that’s all you need to know about ergativity in Basque. If you have any questions, corrections or suggestions, please let me know!