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Basque phonetics site

:: Historical presentation ::


The Basque language, which has been maintained in a reduced space throughout the centuries, has been transmitted as a language of communication in a stable community, although it is fragmented into various political and administrative divisions. Until recently, it was not an official language and has therefore not been used in administration or education. Thus, its written development has been considerably reduced. The few written manifestations in its various literary modes did not succeed in surpassing the borders of the local territory in which they were produced.

Consequently, the Basque language has become more and more fragmented during the last few centuries, until arriving at the present state of dialectal variety. Some of the lexical, morphosyntactic, and, to a smaller degree, phonetic differences of these varieties have been caused by the linguistic contact with the diverse Romance languages of its surrounding: Spanish, French and Occitan.

The assimilation of the Latin-Romance loans corresponding to the extensive period of the Middle Ages shows a series of innovations that are common to the majority of all the dialects. Similarly, the more and more copious testimonies written previous to the first literary works that correspond to the XVIIth century prove a major dialectal proximity.

However, the old tribal divisions and the posthumous ecclesiastic divisions resulting from the former, have quite a close approximation to the current dialectal classification. Therefore, it is supposed that a dialectal basis similar to the present diatopic distribution existed, and that its characteristic common structure functioned as a levelling force; thus, the linguistic unity of Basque was maintained despite the vicissitudes experienced.

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