Saturday, 22 August 2009

Euskaraz badakizu?

No, you probably don't. There's not much point in anyone asking you this question, because it is unlikely that you are one of the handful of adult foreigners who have ever managed to master the Basque language.

This is apparently related to no other language, except perhaps one of the lesser Hungarian dialects. It has a congested look to it, being technically described as agglutinative and polysynthetic, and it is full of Xs and Zs making frightening words like Lerdokiztatu, Edantxar and Xintexuketa.

One must think in an altogether different way to talk Basque, for each transitive verb has fourteen different forms; one word means she gives it to him, another they give it to us, another you give it to them, not to speak of the words for she will give it to us or you would have given it to me or even, for all I know, it might have been given by us to her.

It is an ancient, puzzling and nerve-wracking language but powerful and flexible enough to express even to most recondite of concepts, such as Nire aerolabangailua aingirez beteta dago (My hovercraft is full of eels). The unambitious could always just memorise a few phrases for use in emergencies, like Non dago komuna (where's the lavatory?)


Julia Kay said...

I was trying to figure out what language something was you have explained completely!

Tony said...

Julia: Egun on izan dezala!

20R3Mun said...

What a lovely blog, indeed.
I happen to be basque, and, if you don't mind me doing so, I'd like to add that what you said is absolutely correct, but it's all concerning to the "unified" form of the language, or "Euskera Batua",
The thing that I personally like the most of my mother language is, it's so old (its origins are uncertain as you said, but older than virtually any other language in Europe it is believed) that it has evolved so much there's slight but noticeable differences between towns two miles away!
For example, in my town, Mundaka, we would use words terminatin in -a: kalia, txakurra, itsasua; as opposed to the neighboring -and rival- town Bermeo, where they use -e: kalie, txakurre, itsosue.

It is a language we hold very dearly, and we love the foreigners that learn it. Because in this globalised and mercantile world of today, it has no other purpose for foreigners other than the language itself. Thank you guys!

Oh, and there's a word for toilet that is more genuinely basque than komuna, which has been adopted from spanish/latin. The word would be "irola" and, although it's not as widely used as "komuna" nowadays, I personally like it better.

Wow, sorry! That comment came out way longer than I foresaw! Let's end it here, shall we?

Besarkada bat euskal itsasaldetik

Tony said...

Thank you, 20R3Mun, for sending me such an interesting comment. I put most of what I know about Basque in my post, but now you have taught me much more! I cannot reply in that language, but anyway I send my best greetings to you.