Opinions on Basque language

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Basque (Basque: Euskara, IPA: [eus̺ˈkaɾa]) is a language isolate ancestral to the Basque people, who are indigenous to and mainly inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 27% of Basques in all territories (714,136 out of 2,648,998). Of these, 663,035 are in the Spanish part of the Basque Country and the remaining 51,100 are in the French one.

Native speakers live in a contiguous area that includes parts of four Spanish territories and the three "ancient provinces" in France. Gipuzkoa, most of Biscay, a few municipalities of Álava, and the northern area of Navarre formed the core of the remaining Basque-speaking area before measures were introduced in the 1980s to strengthen the language. By contrast, most of Álava, the western part of Biscay and central and southern areas of Navarre are predominantly populated by native speakers of Spanish, either because Basque was replaced by Spanish along the centuries, in some areas (most of Álava and central Navarre), or because it was possibly never spoken there, in other areas (Encartaciones and southeastern Navarre).

Under Restorationist and Francoist Spain, the public use of Basque was suppressed and regarded as a sign of separatism. A standardized form of the Basque language, called Euskara Batua, was developed by the Basque Language Academy in the late 1960s. Apart from this standardized version, the five main Basque dialects are Bizkaian, Gipuzkoan, and Upper Navarrese in Spain, and Navarrese–Lapurdian and Zuberoan in France. Although they take their names from the historic Basque provinces, the dialect boundaries are not congruent with province boundaries. Euskara Batua was created so that Basque language could be used—and easily understood by all Basque speakers—in formal situations (education, mass media, literature), and this is its main use today. In both Spain and France, the use of Basque for education varies from region to region and from school to school.

A language isolate, Basque is believed to be one of the few surviving pre-Indo-European languages in Europe, and the only one in Western Europe. The language's origins are not conclusively known, though the most accepted current theory is that early forms of Basque developed prior to the arrival of Indo-European languages in the area, including the Romance languages that geographically surround the Basque-speaking region. Basque has adopted a good deal of its vocabulary from the Romance languages, and Basque speakers have in turn lent their own words to Romance speakers. The Basque alphabet uses the Latin script.


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Thanks to this graph, we can see the interest Basque language has and the evolution of its popularity.

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