Basque dialects

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The modern dialects of Basque, according to Koldo Zuazo:
  Western (Biscayan)
  Central (Gipuzkoan)
  (Upper) Navarrese
  Navarro-Lapurdian
  Souletin
  other Basque areas ca 1850 (Bonaparte)

Basque dialects are linguistic varieties of the Basque language which differ in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar from each other and from Standard Basque. Between 6[1] and 9[2] Basque dialects have been historically distinguished:

In modern times, though, both Lower Navarrese and Lapurdian are considered part of a Navarrese–Lapurdian dialect, so the dialects would be five, divided in 11 subdialects, their minor varieties being 24.[3]

The pre-Roman tribal boundaries in the general area of the modern-day Basque Country.

The boundaries of all these dialects do not coincide directly with current political or administrative boundaries. It was believed that the dialect boundaries between Bizkaian, Gipuzkoan and Upper Navarrese did show some relation to some pre-Roman tribal boundaries between the Caristii, Varduli and Vascones. But, nowadays, the main Basque dialectologists deny any direct relation between those tribes and Basque dialects. Looking at historical evidences, it seems that these dialects were created in the Middle Ages from a previously quite unified Basque language, and that the dialects diverged from each other since then due to the administrative and political division that happened in the Basque Country.[3][4]

History of Basque dialectology[edit]

Louis-Lucien Bonaparte's original 1866 map of Basque dialects.
Map of Basque dialects (Koldo Zuazo, 1998)

One of the first scientific studies of Basque dialects, regarding the auxiliary verb forms, was made by Louis-Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of Napoleon. His original dialect map Carte des Sept Provinces Basques which was published in 1869 along with his Le Verbe Basque en Tableaux was regarded as the authoritative guide in Basque dialectology for a century. He collected his data in fieldwork between 1856 and 1869 in five visits to the Basque Country. By then, the Basque language was much in retreat in the whole territory where it had been commonly spoken. In Alava, Basque had all but vanished from the Plains and the Highlands, just remaining in the stronghold of Aramaio and bordering fringes of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, while in Navarre the scholar collected the last live evidence in areas extending as far south as Tafalla.

In 1998, Koldo Zuazo, Professor of Basque Philology at the University of the Basque Country, redefined the dialect classifications slightly, amongst other things changing the name of Biscayan dialect to Western, Gipuzkoan to Central, Upper Navarrese to Navarrese, grouping Lapurdian with Lower Navarrese, distinguishing Eastern Navarrese as an independent dialect and recognising several mixed areas:

Much has been studied too on the Basque dialect spoken formerly in Alava. In 1997, Koldo Zuazo released research carried out on the issue based on dispersed recorded evidence (Landuchio's glossary,...) and papers drawn up especially by Koldo Mitxelena. The pundit outlines three main linguistic areas running north to south, where features related to Western and Navarrese dialects mix up to different degrees according to their geographical position. He focuses mainly on relevant lexico-morphological differences, such as instrumental declension marks -gaz/rekin, ablative -rean/tik, barria/berria (= 'new'), elexea/elizea (= 'church'), padura/madura (= 'swamp'), to mention but a few.[5]

Some key distinguishing features in Basque dialect phonology are:

  • loss of /h/ and aspirated stops in Southern Basque dialects
  • divergence of historic /j/ into /j/ /ɟ/ /ʒ/ /ʃ/ /x/ /χ/[2]
  • Souletin development of the vowel /y/

Morphological variation[edit]

The modern Basque dialects show a high degree of dialectal divergence. However, cross-dialectal communication without prior knowledge of either Standard Basque or the other dialect is normally possible to a reasonable extent with the notable of exception of Zuberoan (Souletin) which is regarded as the most divergent Basque dialect.

The names for the language in the dialects of Basque (Euskara in Standard Basque) for example exemplify to some degree the dialectal fragmentation of the Basque speaking area. The most divergent forms are generally found in the Eastern dialects.

Dialect variant[6] Dialect group Areas documented in
Auskera Upper Navarrese Arakil
Eskara Upper Navarrese
Lapurdian
Irun
Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Eskoara Biscayan Orozko
Eskuara Lapurdian
Biscayan
Lower Navarrese
Labourd
Biscay
Lower Navarre
Eskuera Biscayan
Gipuzkoan
Gernika, Bermeo, Bergara, Leintz-Gatzaga
Goierri, Burunda, Etxarri-Aranaz
Euskala Biscayan Bergara, Leintz-Gatzaga
Euskara Upper Navarrese
Aezcoan
Irun, Larraun, Erro
Euskera Biscayan
Gipuzkoan
Upper Navarrese
Euskiera Biscayan Orozko
Euzkera Biscayan Arrigorriaga, Orozko, Marquina, Bergara, Leintz-Gatzaga
Oskara Upper Navarrese Arakil
Uskara Upper Navarrese
Aezcoan
Salazarese
Irun, Bortziriak, Ultzama
Üskara Souletin
Uskaa Upper Navarrese
Souletin
Ultzama
Üskaa Souletin
Üska Souletin
Uskera Biscayan
Upper Navarrese
Arratia, Orozko
Ultzama, Erro, Olza, Gulina

The following map shows the approximate areas where each word is used. The smaller-type instances are cases of the name being recorded for a particular area, the larger-type instances show over-regional forms common throughout the dialect area in question:

The language name Euskara in the dialects of Basque located on the new dialect map by Koldo Zuazo.

Comparison of sample verb forms[edit]

Comparing the forms of the Basque verb used in the different Basque dialects also gives a good overview over some of the differences and common features.

Standard Basque Biscayan[7] Gipuzkoan[7] Upper Navarrese[1][8][9] Roncalese Lapurdian[10] Lower Navarrese[1][10] Souletin[11]
naiz
haiz
da
gara
zara
zarete
dira
naz
az
da
gara
zara
zaree
dira
naiz
aiz
da
gera
zera
zerate
dira
naiz
(y)aiz
da
ga(r)a
za(r)a
za(r)ate
di(r)e
naz
yaz
da
gra
zra
zrei
dra
naiz
haiz
da
gare
zare
zaizte
di(r)e
n(a)iz
h(a)iz
da
gira
zira
zirezte
dira
niz
hiz
da
gi(r)a
zi(r)a
zi(r)ae
di(r)a
dut
dun
duk
du
dugu
duzu
duzue
dute
dot
don
dok
dau
dogu
dozu
dozue
dabe
det
den
dek
du
degu
dezu
dezute
dute
dut
dun
duk
du
dugu
duzu
duzue
dute
dur,dud
dun
duk
du
digu
tzu
tzei
dei
dut
dun
duk
du
dugu
duzu
duzue
dute
dut
dun
duk
du
dugu
duzu
duzue
(d)ute
düt
dün
dük

dügü
düzü
düzüe
düe
nion
hion
zion
genion
zenion
zenioten
zioten
neutsan
euntsan
eutsan
geuntsan
zeuntsan
zeuntsoen
eutsoen
nion
ion
zion
genion
zenion
zenioten
zioten
nio(n)
(y)io(n)
zio(n)
ginio(n)
zinio(n)
ziniote(n)
ziote(n)
naun
yaun
zaun
ginaun
zinaun
zinabein
zabein
nion
hion
zion
ginion
zinion
zinioten
zioten
nakon
hakon
zakon
ginakon
zinakon
zinakoten
zakoten
neion
heion
zeion
geneion
zeneion
zeneioen
zeioen
nindoakion
hindoakion
zihoakion
gindoazkion
zindoazkion
zindoazkioten
zihoazkion
niñoiakion
iñoakion
joiakion
giñoiakiozan
ziñoiakiozan
ziñoiakiozen
joiakiozan
ninjoakion
injoakion
zijoakion
ginjoazkion
zinjoazkion
zinjoazkioten
zijoazkion












nindoakion
hindoakion
zoakion
ginoazkion
zinoazkion
zinoazkioten
zoazkion






nindoakion
hindoakion
zoakion
gindoazkion
zindoakion
zindoakioen
zoazkion

Key to verb forms:

Standard Basque English
naiz
haiz
da
gara
zara
zarete
dira
I am
you (familiar) are
(s)he/it is
we are
you (formal) are
you (plural) are
they are
dut
dun
duk
du
dugu
duzu
duzue
dute
I have it
you (familiar, allocutive form for female addressee) have it
you (familiar, allocutive form for male addressee) have it
(s)he/it has it
we have it
you (formal) have it
you (plural) have it
they have it
nion
hion
zion
genion
zenion
zenioten
zioten
I to him/her/it (trans.); for example eman nion "I gave it to him"
you (familiar) to him/her/it (trans.)
(s)he/it to him/her/it (trans.)
we to him/her/it (trans.)
you (formal) to him/her/it (trans.)
you (plural) to him/her/it (trans.)
they to him/her/it (trans.)
nindoakion
hindoakion
zihoakion
gindoazkion
zindoazkion
zindoazkioten
zihoazkion
I went to him/her/it
you (familiar) went to him/her/it
(s)he/it went to him/her/it
we went to him/her/it
you (formal) went to him/her/it
you (plural) went to him/her/it
they went to him/her/it

Phonological variation[edit]

Standard Basque consonants[12]
  Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Postalveolar
/Palatal
Velar
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Affricate voiceless ts̺ ts̻
Fricative voiceless f ʃ x
Trill   r  
Tap ɾ
Lateral l ʎ
Standard Basque vowels[12]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

Basque dialects diverge from this standard inventory to a larger or lesser extent. The grapheme j (historically /j/) displays by far the most extreme divergence, followed by the fricatives and affricates. Hualde (1991) describes the following:

  • Baztan, an Eastern Navarrese dialect: lack of /x/
  • Arbizu, a dialect in a mixed Gipuzkoan/Western Navarrese dialect area: geminate vowels /i/~/ii/, /e/~/ee/, /a/~/aa/, /o/~/oo/, /u/~/uu/
  • Gernika, a Biscayan dialect: merger of /s̻/ with /s̺/ and /ts̻/ with /ts̺/. Additional phonemes: /ʒ/. Lack of /c/ and /ɟ/.
  • Ondarroa, a Biscayan dialect: merger of /s̻/ with /s̺/ and /ts̻/ with /ts̺/. Additional phonemes: /dz/. Lack of /c/ and /ɟ/.

Standardized dialects[edit]

There have been various attempts throughout history to promote standardised forms of Basque dialects to the level of a common standard Basque.

  • A standardised form of Lower Navarrese was the dialect used by the influential 16th century author Joanes Leizarraga.
  • Azkue's Gipuzkera Osotua ("Complemented Gipuzkoan"), dating to 1935, attempted to create a standardized Basque based on Gipuzkoan, complemented with elements from other dialects — a largely unsuccessful attempt.
  • In the 1940s, a group (Jakintza Baitha, "Wisdom House") gathered around the academian Federico Krutwig, who preferred to base the standard on the Lapurdian of Joanes Leizarraga's Protestant Bible and the first printed books in Basque. However they did not receive support from other Basque language scholars and activists.
  • In 1944, Pierre Lafitte published his Navarro-Labourdin Littéraire, based on Classical Lapurdian, which has become the de facto standard form of Lapurdian. It is taught in some schools of Lapurdi and used on radio, in church, and by the newspaper Herria.
  • Since 1968, Euskaltzaindia has promulgated a Unified (or Standard) Basque (Euskara batua) based on the central dialects that has successfully spread as the formal-usage dialect of the language. Batua is found in official texts, schools, TV, newspapers and in common parlance by new speakers, especially in the cities, whereas in the countryside, with more elderly speakers, people remain attached to the natural dialects to a higher degree, especially in informal situations.
  • More recently the distinct dialects of Bizkaian and Zuberoan have also been standardised.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Allières, Jacques (1979): Manuel pratique de basque, "Connaissance des langues" v. 13, A. & J. Picard (Paris), ISBN 2-7084-0038-X.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pagola, RM Euskalkiz Euskalki Basque Government 1984
  2. ^ a b Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2
  3. ^ a b Zuazo, Koldo (2010). El euskera y sus dialectos. Alberdania. ISBN 978-84-9868-202-1. 
  4. ^ Mitxelena, Koldo (1981). "Lengua común y dialectos vascos". Anuario del Seminario de Filología Vasca Julio de Urquijo (15): 291–313. 
  5. ^ Zuazo, Koldo (1998). Arabako Euskararen Lekukoak; Ikerketak eta Testuak. Arabako Euskara. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Eusko Legebiltzarra/Parlamento Vasco. p. 174. ISBN 84-87122-73-6. 
  6. ^ Michelena, L. (ed) Diccionario General Vasco - Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia VII Euskaltzandia, 1992
  7. ^ a b Aulestia, G. Basque English Dictionary University of Nevada Press, 1989
  8. ^ Camino, I. (ed) Nafarroako Hizkerak Nafarroako Euskal Dialektologiako Jardunaldia 1997 (PDF)
  9. ^ Gaminde, Iñaki Aditza Ipar Goi Nafarreraz Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea, Pamplona (1985)
  10. ^ a b Lafitte, P (ed.) Grammaire Basque Pour Tous II - Le Verbe Basque Haize Garbia, 1981
  11. ^ Casenave-Harigile, J. Hiztegia II Eüskara - Français Hitzak 1993
  12. ^ a b Hualde, José Ignacio Basque Phonology Routledge, London 1991 ISBN 0-415-05655-1