Monday, December 11, 2006

Euskera : An Ancient Language

Today at EITb they have published an article about Euskara, here you have it:

Euskara : The Basque Language

Although the exact date of its origin is unknown, most specialists agree that it is probably the oldest language on the European continent.

Basque, or Euskara, is a language of unknown origin, with no known relationship to Indo-European, Uralic or European families of languages. It has been influenced by other languages, like Celtic, Latin, Romance, Gascon and Castilian, to which it has in turn made interesting contributions.

The history of the Basque language, until well into the 20th century, is the history of a language which is gradually losing part of its territory from the south to the north as a result of a number of different historic factors (mainly political and economic). Today it is spoken in the provinces of Gipuzkoa, Biscay, Alava and Navarra, as well as in the French Basque provinces of Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule.

The first written literary work dates from 1545, although the first written words in Basque appear for the first time in the 10th century Emilianense annotations, written in Castilian Romance. This is mainly due to the fact that literature and popular tradition have been orally transmitted.

The recovery of Basque initially started in the 20th century with the creation of the first Basque school, or ikastola (1914), the foundation of the Basque Academy, Euskaltzaindia (1918), and the subsequent ikastola movement. It was in this same century that the bases of unified Basque were established (1968).

The revival of the 60s was consolidated in the 80s and 90s, when Basque was added to Castilian as one of the two official languages of the Basque Autonomous Community, and the Basque public institutions began adopting policies aimed at standardising and promoting the language. This means that, over the last twenty years, Basque has experienced the gradual increase in the number of new speakers, and an extension in the social and cultural areas in which it is used: education, university, administration, the media, etc., thus giving shape to an increasingly growing offer.

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