Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Basque interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.

Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Basque language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Basque language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Basque language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Basque language, as well as of the culture and history of the Basque people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

Basque Language

The Basque Language, also known as Euskara or Euskere, was one of the last languages spoken in southwestern Europe before the Romans took over between the 2nd and 1st centuries BE. Presently, it is currently used in about 3,900 square miles within Spain and France. There are several Basque speakers in Europe and North and South America. Most people who speak Basque speak another language as well. It is estimated that there are close to 1 million  Basque speakers worldwide. Basque became official for only a short period of time during the Spanish Civil War, between 1936 and 1937. In 1978, both Basque and Castilian Spanish became the official languages of the Basque Country of Spain.

The Basque country in Spain is made up of the province of Guipuzcoa, parts of Vizcaya (Biscay) and Navarra (Navarre) along with a corner of Alava. The French Basque contry is in the western region of the department de Pyrenees-Atlantiques.

The Basque people call themselves Euskaldnak, deriving from the word Euskara which is the ethnonym of the language.

Origins of the Basque Language

The Basque language can be divided into eight dialects, which were recognized by the philologist Louis-Lucien Bonaparte in the 19th century. In the late 19th century, a German philologist, Hugo Schuchardt made a genetic connection between multiple languages, including Basque, Iberian (an extinct language from ancient Spain and the Mediterranean cost of France) and other Afro-Asiatic languages. There are some suggestions between the Basque and Caucasian languages as well.

History of the Basque Language

In the early years of the Common Era, it is proposed that the Basque language was spoken in the north and south of the Pyrenees and as east as the Aran Valley in the northeastern part of Spain. Historians have concluded that the occupation of the Roman administration is what saved the Basque dialects from being overcome by Latino. However, the eastern dialects of Basque were separated from other Romantic language speakers, were not as lucky. In the Middle Ages, the Basque language was spoken primarily in rural areas, thus making it harder to hold up against the more predominant Latin language, which was spoken more popularly. Similarly, the Basque language has slowly become over taken by Castilian Spanish. Since the 1800s, Basque has been struggling to survive. There have been efforts to bring Basque as a private primary education and a written standard.

Phonology, Grammar and Vocabulary

Overall, Basque is quite similar to Spanish. This includes the sound patter, with a very few distinctive sounds. The common sound system of Basque has five vowels and a series of two consonants. There are also nasal and palatal sounds, such as a ny sounding English (ex: canyon). Another component of the phenology are the hissing and hushing sibilants, which are sounds that are made by forcing air through a small closure between the tongue and the hard palate. Some of these similants are x or tx. In some regions, such as the Souletin region, the dialect of Basque spoken has acquired another vowel.

When discussing Basque grammar, it is important to mention three features that are critical in describing Basque syntax. A suffix in Basque is the equivalent to what the subject of a transitive verb would be in English. Another feature is in regard to the finite verb. It acts as a summary of the noun phrases in a sentence through inflection for tense, voice, person, number and mood and can be found in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person. The last feature is the required use of allocutive verb forms. This means that in all forms of addressing someone, the non-subordinate verbs must agree with the sex of the addressee.

Grammar in Basque has evolved, like many other languages. It has borrowed languages and idioms from neighboring languages, also known as “loan words.” Conversely, Basque has also contributed to other languages such as Spanish, French, Occitan and English languages. There are certain names that are almost exclusive to Basque origin such as Aramburu, Bolivar, Echeverria and Geuvara.

Fun Facts about Basque

  • Euskera (Basque) is the most distinctive language spoken in Spain
  • The Basque people have their own unique drink, called La Rioja, a unique wine.
  • The Basque people have their own national sport, called pelota.