non-Indo-European language isolate spoken by the Basque people in parts of modern-day France and Spain
Basque (; Euskara, [eus̺ˈkaɾa]) is a language spoken in the Basque Country, a region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of Northern Spain and Southwestern France. Linguistically, Basque is unrelated to the other languages of Europe and is a language isolate in relation to any other known living language. The Basques are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, the Basque Country. The Basque language is spoken by 28.4% (751,500) of Basques in all territories. Of these, 93.2% (700,300) are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 6.8% (51,200) are in the French portion.Native speakers live in a contiguous area that includes parts of four Spanish provinces 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 over the centuries, in some areas (most of Álava and central Navarre) or because it was possibly never spoken there, in other areas (parts of the Enkarterri and southeastern Navarre).
In Francoist Spain, Basque language use was affected by the government’s repressive policies. In the Basque Country, "Francoist repression was not only political, but also linguistic and cultural." The regime placed legal restrictions on the use of language, which was suppressed from official discourse, education, and publishing, making it illegal to register new-born babies under Basque names, and even requiring tombstone engravings in Basque to be removed. In some provinces, the public use of the language was suppressed, with people fined for speaking Basque. Public use of Basque was frowned upon by supporters of the regime, often regarded as a sign of anti-Francoism or separatism. Overall, in the 1960s and later, the trend reversed and education and publishing in Basque began to flourish. As a part of this process, a standardised form of the Basque language, called Euskara Batua, was developed by the Euskaltzaindia in the late 1960s.
Besides its standardised version, the five historic Basque dialects are Biscayan, Gipuzkoan and Upper Navarrese in Spain and Navarrese–Lapurdian and Souletin in France. They take their names from the historic Basque provinces, but the dialect boundaries are not congruent with province boundaries. Euskara Batua was created so that the 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 is the only one in Western Europe. The origin of the Basques and of their languages is not conclusively known, though the most accepted current theory is that early forms of Basque developed before the arrival of Indo-European languages in the area, including the Romance languages that geographically surround the Basque-speaking region. Basque has adopted about 40 percent 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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