Basque (Basque: , ) is a language isolate〔Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. 2012. Spain. Steven L. Denver (ed.), ''Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues'', Vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M .E. Sharpe, pp. 674–675.〕 ancestral to the Basque people. The Basque are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, the Basque Country, a region that spans the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. The Basque language is spoken by 27% of Basques in all territories (714,136 out of 2,648,998).〔 Of these, 663,035 are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 51,100 are in the French portion.〔
Native speakers live in a contiguous area that includes parts of four Spanish territories 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 (Encartaciones and southeastern Navarre).
Besides its standardised version, the five historic Basque dialects are Bizkaian, Gipuzkoan, and Upper Navarrese in Spain, and Navarrese–Lapurdian and Zuberoan in France.
Under Restorationist and Francoist Spain, public use of Basque was frowned upon, often regarded as a sign of separatism; this applied especially to those regions that did not support Franco's uprising (such as Biscay or Guipuzcoa). However, in those Basque-speaking regions that supported the uprising (such as Navarre or Álava) the Basque language was more than merely tolerated. 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 standardized form of the Basque language, called Euskara Batua, was developed by the Basque Language Academy in the late 1960s.
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 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 one of the few surviving pre-Indo-European languages in Europe, and the only one in Western Europe. The language's origins are not conclusively known, though the most accepted current theory is that early forms of Basque developed prior to the arrival of Indo-European languages in the area, including the Romance languages that geographically surround the Basque-speaking region. Basque has adopted a good deal 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.
==Names of the language==
In Basque, the name of the language is officially ''Euskara'' (alongside various dialect forms). Three etymological theories of the name ''Euskara'' are taken seriously by linguists and Vasconists.
In French, the language is normally called ''basque'', though in recent times ''euskara'' has become common. Spanish has a greater variety of names for the language. Today, it is most commonly referred to as ''el vasco'', ''la lengua vasca'', or ''el euskera''. Both terms, ''vasco'' and ''basque'', are inherited from Latin ethnonym ''Vascones'', which in turn goes back to the Greek term οὐασκώνους (''ouaskōnous''), an ethnonym used by Strabo in his ''Geographica'' (23 CE, Book III).〔Trask, R.L. ''The History of Basque'' Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2〕
The Spanish term ''Vascuence'', derived from Latin ''vasconĭce'',〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Diccionario de la lengua española )〕 has acquired negative connotations over the centuries and is not well-liked amongst Basque speakers generally. Its use is documented at least as far back as the 14th century when a law passed in Huesca in 1349 stated that ''Item nuyl corridor nonsia usado que faga mercadería ninguna que compre nin venda entre ningunas personas, faulando en algaravia nin en abraych nin en basquenç: et qui lo fara pague por coto XXX sol''—essentially penalizing the use of Arabic, Hebrew, or Vascuence (Basque) with a fine of 30 sols (the equivalent of 30 sheep〔O'Callaghan, J. ''A History of Medieval Spain'' (1983) Cornell Press ISBN 978-0801492648〕).
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