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Basque phonetics site

:: Classification ::

The first literary works written in Basque already highlighted the existing dialectal diversity, fundamentally because of the necessity the writers had to use a variety that would be accessible to a greater number of speakers. As early as the XVIIIth century, Father Manuel de Larramendi, classified with quite great precision the major part of the dialects, and therefore, he can be considered the precursor of Basque dialectology. However, it is not until the XIXth century that a complete dialectal classification of the Basque language is available.

The first systematic study of the Basque dialects was carried out by Louis Lucien Bonaparte during the second half of the XIXth century. He used three sources to develop it: the data he collected himself on his trips around all the territories of Basque speech, the information obtained from his collaborators (fundamentally translations of the different local speeches), and the analysis of the literary works he obtained both as manuscripts and in print.

Bonaparte classified the Basque language into three big groups, divided into eight dialects, 25 subdialects and 50 varieties. He put this dialectal classification down on a linguistic map in 1863. Each dialect has a different colour and the dialectal areas which are in danger of extinction have a lighter shade of colour. This calssification has been used up to the present day with a few modifications, and it is the one followed in this work.

The Bonapartian classification brings together the dialects according to the historical and methodological point of view, i.e. according to the general affinities that characterise them. This method, however, causes the problem of physically dividing a linguistic continuum where the linguistic features are interrelated. Thus, for example a possible general delimitation between the Central Group (Guipuzcoan, Labourdin and the two High Navarrese) and the Eastern Group (Souletin) makes the classification of two dialects difficult: the Low Navarrase ones, because of their markedly transitory character. In the same Eastern Group the Souletin dialect consists of the subdialects Souletin and Roncalese, although later on each of them has been considered a dialect in its own right. The subdialects Aezcoan and Salacen, classified as Low Navarrase by Bonaparte, conform a gradual continuity between the High Navarrese and the Roncalese.


WesternGuernica, Bermeo, Plencia, Arratia, Orozco, Arrigorriaga, Ochandiano
From GuipuzcoaVergara,Salinas
CentralGipuzcoanNothernHernani, Tolosa, Azpeitia
From NavarraBurunda, Echarri-Aranaz
High Northen NavarreseFrom UltzamaLizaso
From BaztanElizondo
From BortzirietaVera
From AraquilHuarte-Araquil
From AraizInza
From GuipuzcoaIrun
LabourdinLocalSara, Ainhoa, Saint-Jean-de-Luz
High Southern NavarreseEasternEgüés, Olaibar, Arce, Erro, Burgete
From IlzarbePuente la Reina
WesternOlza, Zizur, Gulina
RoncaleseVidangoz, Urzainqui, Ustarroz
Ekialdeko Behe NafarreraFrom Garazi-AmikutzeCize, Mixe, Bardos, Arberoue
From AdourBriscous,Urcuit
Low Western NavarreseBaigorrienBaigorry
From LabourdUstarits, Mendionde
Deustuko Unibertsitatea Fonetika Laborategia Bizkaiko Foru Aldundia
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