Basque Language in France
By Maika Larrue
Many people think that Basque country is located in North West Spain, which is only half true.
Indeed, the Basque country is divided into seven provinces: four in Spain (Biscaya, Guipuzkoa, Alava, Navarra) and three in France (Lapurdi, Basse-Nafarroa and Xiberoa).
image from www.le-cartographe.net
As you no doubt know, Basque is spoken all over the Basque country, and in spite of some differences of accent and a few lexical differences, the French-Basque can easily communicate with the Spanish-Basque.
This beautiful language is still a mystery for linguists.
Indeed, Basque doesn’t have any Greek or Latin roots and it doesn’t belong to the Indo-European family of languages. There are a lot of hypotheses about its origin, and one suggests a link with Caucasian languages.
Basque is less spoken in France than in the Spanish side of Basque country, but people work on keeping it alive.
Four Basque schools were created in 1971 and were called Ikastolak ( ikasi means ‘to learn’ ). They are immersion schools.
Since 1971 Basque schools opened one after another and now there are seven nursery schools, 20 primary schools, three secondary schools and a high school.
image from www.gureikastola.eus
There is another option to learn Basque at school called Ikas-Bi (ikasi means ‘to learn’ and bi means ‘two’). In this kind of school, children study half in French and half in Basque: mathematics and sciences are taught in Basque while history and geography are taught in French.
Now I will give you a few sentences in Basque that could be useful if you are planning to explore Basque Country.
First of all, you need to know that in Basque, we pronounce all the letters.
Egun on – Hello
Untsa zira ? – How are you ?
Otoi – Please
Ikus arte – See you later
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Maika Larrue
Maika completed a Master’s Degree in Cinema from The Cinema School of Toulouse, and has a Degree in French Literature, Theatre and Cinema from University of Toulouse. She directs short movies and videoclips. She is now doing a degree in French as a foreign language at the University of Artois.