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How To Learn Sign Language

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]

100 Replies to “Basque – A Language of Mystery”

  • As a very ethnically mixed person (Scandanavian, Germanic, Nigerian, and Spanish/Portuguese) The Iberian people have always interested me the most. Being a hefty amount of Spanish/Portuguese I would like to know how much of that is actually of Iberian origin.

  • To me it just sounds like Argentine/Uruguayan Spanish, doesn't sound anything like the Caucasian languages.

  • Es denotar la cantidad de descendientes de vascos q hay en América, en muchos casos familias aristocráticas de los diferentes países. Como la Reina consorte de Holanda Máxima o el caso de Simon Bolívar. En todos casos si en el País Vasco son pocos en América prácticamente nulo…

  • Язык Басков????? Уахахахахаах. Мухахахаха. Золотая Ява Золотая, СИГАРЕТЫ со вкусом чая лала лалалалалал.

  • Anyone know much about the Etrurians – is there any connection with the Basques? Or do we just not know?

  • The best comment section I've ever seen with so many fascinating contributions. Thank you people – Basque culture is amazing

  • The channel celebrated 50k subscribers when he made the video. Now his number of subscribers (over 700k) is roughly the same as the number of people who speak Basque!

  • Somehow after reading El Mio Cid , and how old Castilian was written it does make sense, Im not an expert at all, I only speak Spanish and English but old Castilian also sound like backwards or the order of the words in sentences are not the same as modern spanish

  • i think you must compare this language with turcic languages. because the words order in the sentence is very very similar to turkish and like turcic languaages it seems agglutinating


  • A great explanation, however i would like to add some information.
    Immigrants from Georgia and Armenia, are known to say about basque, that there are quite a lot of common roots regarding vocabulary between basque and their own native languages. I don't know, but it seems to be a fact.

    What i do know, is that basque has somehow similar architecture than japanese.
    Odd… But it does work mostly in the same way when you want construct a sentence.
    I've always thought that i was kind of crazy for thinking this, but, somebody down here, commented that structure looks like korean… And well, korean and japanse are very similar.
    So, i think i wasn't wrong.

    Finally, remember that the batua was introduced in 1.965, thanks to the work of Koldo Mitxelena and a couple of other academics of the Basque Language Academy, an official institution, and that the dictatorship ended in 1.975.

    So, don't believe that the dictatorship reduced the number of speakers… At all.
    I'm of navarre descendant, and none of my grandparents spoke "basque"… The number of speakers in Navarre was related to the number of inhabitants of the areas of basque influence, mostly north of Navarre and Basque Country… Almost no influence in intermediate zones, and no influence at all in southern zones of Navarre or the province of Alava. Zones where as you stated, historically, basque had no influence.

    The thing is, that Administration is trying to "recover" basque language in zones where NO basque was spoken at all.

    The other main language from Navarre was Romance Navarro. That latin language, used vastly in Navarra and Aragon, was influenced by basque language, and is the mixed origin (with castillian) of the actual spanish language.

    Historically, Navarre sustained an alliance with Castilla during the early times, they even sent a combined army to the Kingdom of Leon, and conquered it, settling a common dinasty in all three territories. But well, that's HIstory, not language.

    Other interesting thing is that basque and romance language speakers were somehow scattered along the cantabric coast, not all the villages and towns in the actual Basque Country territory spoke basque, and there are settlements in Cantabria or even in Asturias, that were said to be basque languate settlements…. Well, as you can figure, back in the early medieval times, there were no exactly language "standards", mostly due the lack of education and knowledge of the scripture.

  • Paul another interesting fact is that you will find the most persons with negative blood rhesus among the Basques that are believed to be direct descendants of the Atlanteans, thus the isolated language. I believe dna technology will prove this in the future when we are revealed Atlanteans artefacts and remains.

  • I think I remember reading that the American Psychic Edgar Cayce once stated the Basque were remnants of Atlantean immigrants.

  • As a Brazilian, i was curious when you said the Basque word for book is "liburu", cause it kinda reminds me of latin words like "libro" in Spanish and "livro" in my language, Portuguese

  • Another mystory with the Basque, they are the human society with the most prevalent resus blood factor… you know, O neg or O positive (?)
    Nobody knows where this blood factor comes from and why it appears… Very fascinating people those Basques!

  • It is not a mystery. the Basques are the barskunes, name given by the European Celts to the mercenary Berber men of Hannibal who hid in the Pyrenees, because they did not want to go to attack Rome, out of cowardice. They stole, murdered and raped European women and that's how the Basque people appear. The Basque language is Berber mixed with Celtic and Latin. This is the horrible origin of the Basque people. All are bastards from bereber mercenary man and european raped woman.

  • So interesting and i am happy that this language survived. Probably it was the original language of Iberia.

  • Je suis nee et j ai grandi au pays langue ne se perd pas au contraire beaucoup de jeunes la parlent.merci et vive le pays basque😀💜

  • It’s interesting that the cute girl in your undergrad Spanish class was always dating a guy who looked like this.

  • There is ample scholarship that the Basque language roots are the Armenian language. See the recent book by Vahan Setyan with a large reference base. The main problem with people claiming Basque as a mystery language is that they do not know the Armenian language.

  • I am listening to you and I wonder how you can say too difficulte sounds and not have tongache I wouldn't like to live in Amerika or in Great Britain and speak every day English Y Español es mucho mas facil y Euskera es un hermoso idioma Hiskuntza hau oso polita da Ni emakume zaharra errusiera naiz

  • My grea-tgrandmother surname was "Alzadú", I will know if Alzadú is a basque surname? She lived in Almarza, Soria Province, and we have references that she was from Logroño, La Rioja.

  • Eres un "crack", muy bien explicado, soy catalana y espero que todas las lenguas oficiales del Estado sigan hablándose cada vez más, no debemos perderlas y creo que sería maravilloso que se estudiaran en todo el Estado. El conocimiento nos hará libres y más humanos. Gracias.

  • I study Kartuli Ena ქართული ენა and there is no doubt that Bask is related to the old “Iberia” which is the ancient name of Georgia 🇬🇪 so “we don’t know” should read “we don’t want to know” ….. why?

  • I've been to the Basque area, Spain this year, around the region of Bilbao and coastal zone, it was amazing because everything is in Basque/Gascoigne which I can't even have a clue take a guess. And my landlady really took a while to explain to me the things like Gaztelu Gatxe and basic pronunciations.

  • Umea kalean for example , the conglomerative grammar is a bit similar to Finnish, with its definitive affix a and inisive -n . In this case the adverbials and nouns get twisted into a whole thing like kalean , instead of being separate. The verb da is like Finnish on “to be, exist” (but Finnish somehow can still be regarded as inflected language and the conjugation is similar to Latin according to my observation!) And even the sentence order is alike.

  • Hi ! The word "Cale " is also in Romanian , meaning a path. For a street we use "strada".I am not a linguist. Cheers !😀😂

  • Quite possibly, from the Basque nation's point of view, the whole so-called European culture is a new, strange fashion, lately spread around by a bunch of noisy invaders… My country's history reaches no more than 12 hundred years backwards, so I always remember to take my hat off to the ancient inhabitants of Europe. Deep respect and honour to the Basques!

  • El vasco actual es la mezcla de siete lenguas distintas que se hablaban en la zona y buena parte fuè inventada por un racista y simpatizante de los nazis llamado Sabino Arana, .

  • It seems to me the basque is related with the japanese because of his structure and I remember the japanese "to be" is "da" too.

  • This is one of the hardest languages I've ever seen. And the amazing thing is that if I heard it on the street I'd just think it was "weird Spanish" because it sorta sounds like it but the words and verb conjugation are absolutely nothing alike… sos how does one learn it??

  • There are efforts in the Euskera speaking area, there are definitely NOT efforts in Spain to recover Euskera. Madrid wants (and not so quietly) to kill Euskera. Franco also moved Spaniards from other part of the peninsula into the Euskera speaking area to dilute the language.

  • hasn't it been established that the connection with some African languages is most probable? it definitely sounds so

  • It's no secret that the secret is Armenian..over 700 words that mean the same and sound the same and much more….have you seen the work of Vahan Sarkisian…..there really is no excuse anymore not to know….see the book on Basque by  Lindquist Setyan… will find the documentation in his book…..I know the need to be unique, however history should be a science as much as possible and linguistics will make the connection….

  • Conteúdo deste canal é interessante, é pena que a barreira da língua impede que a informação só se der pelas legendas. Será que existirá futuramente Youtubers dubladores para o canal se tornar interesse para aqueles que não entende o inglês?

  • Hay.. I'm not that much of polylingual (?).. but at least the word order is pretty much as the Koreans would say.

  • The structure is exactly Turkish! Why are people afraid to say that? Word order is same. Even the -du-di at the end of the sentence to make the sentence perfect or past tense, is the same as in Turkish. They are our far-cousins! Turkic languages, Japanese and Korean are all in the same language groups. There are about 80 languages in Turkic language group.

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