Gipuzkoan (Gipuzkera in Basque, Guipuzcoano in Spanish) is a dialect of the Basque language spoken mainly in the province of Gipuzkoa in Basque Country but also in a small part of Navarre. It is a central dialect, spoken in the central and eastern part of Gipuzkoa. In the traditional dialectal classification of the language based on research carried out by Lucien Bonaparte in the 19th century, the varieties of the valleys Sakana and Burunda are also included in Gipuzkoan, while this approach has been disputed by modern Basque linguists.
Gipuzkoan is not spoken all over Gipuzkoa, roughly comprising the area between the Deba River and the River Oiartzun. The strip of Gipuzkoa stretching from Leintz-Gatzaga to Elgoibar is part of the Biscayan (Western) dialect area, while the River Oiartzun flowing past Errenteria outlines the border with the Upper Navarrese dialect. However, borders between Gipuzkoan and High Navarrese are gradually disappearing as standard Basque is beginning to blur the differences among traditional dialects, especially among younger Basques.
Some features of Gipuzkoan as perceived by other dialect speakers may be summed up as follows:
- The grapheme j, which is highly variable amongst Basque dialects, is generally [x] (e.g. [xaˈkin] vs [ʝaˈkin], jakin).
- Verb 'to go' pronounced jun ([ˈxun]), as opposed to general joan ([ˈʝoan]).
- Auxiliary verb forms "det - dek - dezu", etc., as opposed to general Basque "dut" (Biscayan "dot").
- Verb infinitives with ending -tu (bizitu, bialdu, etc.), frequent in central dialects, as opposed to older -i endings (bizi, bi(d)ali, etc.).
- In nouns, root final -a is often interpreted as an article and dropped in indefinite phrases, e.g. gauz bat 'one thing' vs gauza bat.
- Sibilant allophone "tx" at the beginning of words, as opposed to general fricative "z", e.g. txulo vs zulo, txuri vs zuri, etc.
Variants of Gipuzkoan
Within Gipuzkoan, there are four main sub-dialects:
- The Beterri variant (from the area surrounding Tolosa, towards San Sebastián).
- The Goierri variant.
- The Urola variant (from Zarautz to Mutriku).
- Navarrese Gipuzkoan (Burunda, Echarri-Aranaz).
Gipuzkoan is one of the four dialects known as the literary dialects of Basque (Biscayan, Lapurdian, Souletin and Gipuzkoan). It was used in Basque literature from the 17th century onwards but, as with Souletin and Biscayan, it only enjoyed a minor role during the period of the Lapurdian dialect's dominance. This was due to the fact that the centre of Basque literary production was in Labourd during the 16th, 17th and most of the 18th century.