Name of the language: Euskara

Other names 1) Basque in other languages
Spoken in


2) Basque-speaking territories

Number of speakers 3) Speakers
Legal status 4) Status. The official nature of Basque.
5) Sources.
Short explanation about the history 6) Short explanation about the history. Basque, a European language
For more information (other web sites) 7) For more information (other web sites). Other interesting websites.
Map 8) MAP (Euskara Kultur Elkargoa)

9) Movie

Testua 10) Gero Testua. Axular



1) Euskara in various languages

Aragonese - O vasco
German - Baskische Sprache
Low German - Baskische Sprache
English - Basque Language
French - Basque
Spanish - Vasco, euskara
Galician - Lingua vasca, lingua euscara
Occitan - Basc
Breton - Euskareg
Frisian - Baskysk

Basque - Euskara





2) Basque-speaking territories

Basque-speaking territories are divided into three administrations.
    - In Spain:
            o The Foral Community of Navarre.
            o Basque Autonomous Community. Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba).
    - In France:
            o In the Pyrénées –Atlantiques department (Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Nafarroa Beherea)





3) Speakers:

a) In total:

   □ Population: 3.041.339
         -Bilinguals: 887.275
          -Incomplete bilinguals: 517.400


b) By territories

- In the Foral Community of Navarre: (The Situation of Basque in Navarre, 2008. Sociolinguistic Survey, taking into account the Navarre population aged over 15 years old)

   □ Population (in total): 590.000
         -Bilinguals (over 15 years old) :60.475.

         -Incomplete bilinguals (over 15 years old) : 38.600

- In the Basque Autonomous Community: (Census data collected by Eustat, taking into account population aged over 2 years old)

   □ Population (in total): 2.133.236
       -Bilinguals (over 2 years old): 775.000

       -Incomplete bilinguals (over 2 years old): 459.000

- In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Department together with Béarn. (Sociolinguistic survey 2006, taking into account population aged over 16)

    □ Population (in total): 272.103
         -Bilinguals (16 urtetik goitikoak): 51.800
         -Incomplete bilinguals (16 urtetik goitikoak) : 19.800


Note: In Navarre and the Basque Autonomous Community, the percentage of Basque-speakers is much higher among the population under 15 years old, compared to other age ranges.



4) Status. The official nature of Basque.

Basque-speaking territories are divided into three administrations.

    - In Spain:
       o The Foral Community of Navarre
       o Basque Autonomous Community (Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba).

     - In France:
       o In the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department (Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Nafarroa Beherea)

Each administration gives a different treatment to the use of Basque, in consequence, there are five different rules that regulate the Basque language.

- The Foral Community of Navarre: The status given to Basque in this community is called as a partial official status. Since the law on Basque languge of Navarre was approved in 1986, the territory is divided into three areas depending on the status of the language:


  • Basque-speaking area (North): Basque is official, together with Spanish. This is the north part of the territory (%10 of the population).


  • The Mixed Area (the middle part): Basque is not official. However, the law on Basque language recognizes the right of citizens to use Basque in local administrations. Likewise, the law foresees that the local administrations have to determine for which public service position will be necessary the knowledge of Basque. At the schools of the mixed area there is the possibility of studying in Basque (%53 of the population lives in this area).


  • Non-Basque-speaking area (South): Basque is not official. This is the largest area of Navarre and it takes the middle part and the south of the territory. The only language is Spanish. At schools, Basque can be learnt as a subject if there is enough demand. (%37 of the population lives in this area).



- Basque Autonomous Community: Basque is official in all the territory, together with Spanish. The Law on Basque language was approved in 1982.

- Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Nafarroa Beherea in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques Department (France). Basque is not the official language; the only one is French.




5) Sources


6) Short explanation about the history

- Basque, a European language

            Basque is an Indo-European language with a non-determinate origin. According to linguists, Basque is not related with any other language, not with one spoken nowadays or in the past. A lot of questions have been asked since the 16th century over his geographic and genetic origin, and many answers have been given too. Basque is, nowadays, one of the few languages that have not an Indo-European origin, resulting in experts and writers analyzing it and comparing it to other languages, trying to find any similarity with them.

            Many theories have been proposed depending on the historical era, which were sometimes contradictories, but then rejected by rigorous linguists and scientists. These are some of the most extended theories:

         -Relation of Basque with Indo-European Mediterranean languages. -The Basque-Iberian theory, 

           relation of Basque with Iberian.             

         -Relation with African languages, especially with the Amazigh.
         -Relation with Caucasian languages, with the Georgian, for example.




-The history of Basque



           Basque-linguists consider Basque is the most deeply rooted language in Europe. It seems that a proto-Basque language was spoken around the Pyrenees 8.000 years ago. Since then, our language has had a non-stopping history.


             In that history, linguists have studied more or less the past 3000 years. The first time of that period is known thanks to its reconstruction work:

                      - Old ancient Basque: Basque language deductive reconstruction before the arrival of

                        Celtics by Joseba Lakarra, Joaquín Gorrochategui and Ivan Igartua, among others.
                      - Old Basque: Reconstruction of Basque spoken from more or less the 5th century B.C. to

                        the 1st century. Reconstructed by Koldo Mitxelena (and in lesser extent Ricardo Gómez

                        and Larry Traskek)

             In the Antiquity Basque-speaking people were extended from the Ebro River to the Garonne River, and in the Pyrenees down to Catalonia. At this time, Celtic and Iberian languages were Basque’s neighbours. In the first millenium A.C. there was a big setback in the Pyrenees and in the north, especially due to the Roman Empire. After that, Basque shared its territory with Arabic and with various Romance languages. The syntactic structure of Basque, however, has kept its own personality.


             Until now, the first written vestiges are in Aquitaine, in the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre, in Soria, Rioja, Zaragoza and Huesca. Vestiges, such as people names or gods and goddess names, are inscriptions found in gravestones and they date from the 1st century A. D. to the 3rd.

            In Lerga, a village in Navarre, a gravestone from the time of the Romans was found with Basque names, from the 1st century. Nevertheless, it is the 16th century that the first book in Basque is published, written by Bernat Etxepare from Nafarroa Beherea in 1545, and at the same century Lazarraga wrote his manuscript.

- The limits of Basque today

            Basque is spoken in Araba, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Lapurdi, Nafarroa-Garaia, Nafarroa-Beherea and Zuberoa, even though it has not the same status everywhere. In the Basque Diaspora too, around a thousand people have kept or recovered the language, amongst other things, thanks to Euskal Etxeak (Basque Centers). On the whole, around one million people speak Basque.

            The areas that have kept the natural transmission of Basque are as follows: almost the whole territory of Bizkaia and the Northern Basque Country, the whole Gipuzkoa, the north-west area of Navarre and a valley from Araba. Nonetheless, apart from these regions, Basque can be heard and used anywhere. Most of the children and young people learn Basque and the speakers’ number is unceasingly increasing. For the first time in a long while, Basque is breaking limits.



7) Some interesting websites The Basque Institute of Navarre The Basque Audio Library of Navarre Website of Euskaltzaindia (Basque Academy) Newspaper in Basque Website of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community Dictionaries and software Basque association Some links and contents. Specialized website around Basque Association for the normalization of Basque Public association of Basque in the French Basque Country Website for Basque students.



8) Map




9) Movie




10) Gero Text. Axular

"Gero" is the main book written by Pedro Agerre Axular, a classic writer from Navarre-Lapurdi of the 16th century and it is one of the most important books in Basque literature.

Divided in two parts. In the first one it is shown how harmful is to be in delay, to leave things for later instead of doing them at the moment. In the second part, it is explained, and advanced, to the one who wishes to do his duty. From the Holy Scriptures, Doctors of the Church and devotion books, all of them compiled by the Axular, the head-priest of Sara.

Ne tardes converti ad Dominum, et
ne differas de die in diem, Eccles 5
Printed by the King’s printer G. Milanges


8 I know that I could not adapt to all the ways Basque is spoken. For Basque is spoken in different ways depending on the territory. Some people say "behatzea" and some others "so egitea". Some people say "haserretzea" and others "samurtzea". Some people say "ilkitzea" and others "ialgitea". Some people say "athea" and some others "bortha". Some people say "irakurtzea" and some others "leitzea". Some people say "“iskartzea“ and some others "ahakartzea“. Some people say "hauzoa“ and some others "barridea“. Some people say "aitonen semea" and some others "zalduna". After all, each one speaks his own way and manner. Basque people do not have the same laws and traditions, neither the same way of speaking, as they have different kingdoms.

 10 But usually people tend to think their way of writing and speaking is the best one, the most beautiful. And as my manner is not like yours, please, do not underestimate it. If you are not merry with that, make it your own way, the way is used in your village, because I am not getting angry and sulking. On the contrary, I wish this essay will make you think and help me doing a better job and correct my errors. Like this, Basque will not seem so short and closed, as people think and consider it is nowadays.
It seems that today Basque is shameful, strange, that is not brave, daring, courageous to be used in public.
For some of the people living in this country do not know our language, not speaking, reading or writing it.
If they had done so many books in Basque as in French, Latin or other languages, Basque would be as rich and complete as others. If not, it is Basques that are guilty, and not Basque

Sprachen und Sprachpolitik entlang des Jakobsweges, Romanisches Seminar der CAU zu Kiel: 28.05.2013
Sprachen und Sprachpolitik entlang des Jakobsweges, Romanisches Seminar der CAU zu Kiel: 28.05.2013
EUROPA AUF DEN JAKOBSWEGEN            KIEL, LANDESHAUS: 22. 11. – 19. 12. 2011 | CENTRE CULTUREL FRANÇAIS, KIEL: 24.01. - 24.02.2012
Congress Santiago (21./22.10.2011)
Congress Santiago (21./22.10.2011)