Basque is the only pre-Indo-European language of western Europe. There are approximately 700. 000 speakers of Basque, almost all bilingual in Spanish or French. Dialectal diversity within Basque is not ancient, although virtually every valley or town has a recognizable local variety. Euskara batua (unified Basque) has been enormously successful. A remarkable aspect of the phonemic inventory is a contrast between two voiceless sibilants, lamino-alveolar z and apico-alveolar s, and two corresponding affricates. Marking of grammatical functions works on a strictly ergative basis. In its word order, Basque is basically a verb-final language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Language & Linguistics
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9780080448541
StatePublished - 2006


  • Aquitanian
  • Basque
  • Ergative
  • France
  • Iberian
  • Palatalization
  • Pitch accent
  • SOV
  • Spain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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