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DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631220398.2000.x


Basque ( euskara ) is a non-* Indo-European language of uncertain origin. Various hypotheses have been put forward regarding its relationship with other language groups. Whilst some scholars concentrate on Basque's relation to * Iberian in pre-Roman Spain and see also a link with North African languages (Berber and Eastern Hamitic languages), others highlight certain similarities between Basque and * Caucasian languages . No hypothesis has been substantiated with conclusive evidence. Today the language is spoken, with varying degrees of intensity, in Euskal Herria, an area straddling the Pyrenees and comprising seven provinces, three of which (Soule, Labourd and Basse-Navarre) constitute the French Basque Country (Iparralde); the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi – provinces of Alava, Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya) and the Autonomous Community of Navarre constitute the Spanish Basque Country (Hegoalde). The earliest written record of the language is found in an 11th-c. charter recording the donating of the monastery of Ollazabal (Guipúzcoa) by García Azenáriz and his wife to San Juan de la Peña ( Collins 1990 : 194-5); the charter includes Latin formulae, but details of the boundaries are given in Basque. Some traces of Basque are to be found in the Glosas Emilianenses of the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla (probably 11th c.), and a 12th-c. pilgrims’ guide to Santiago de Compostela, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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