Basque Version of the Scriptures
Basque Version Of The Scriptures.
There are at least eight dialects of the Basque language, which is a tongue utterly unlike other European languages, unless we except the Finnish, with which it appears to have some slight connection. The Basques who can read at all can, in almost every instance, read either French or Spanish; but, as a matter of course, their mother-tongue is more valued by them than acquired languages. According to the geographical position, we have the French and Spanish Basque. See Bible of Every Land, p. 314-318.
I. French Basque. — The French dialect of the Basque is spoken in the south-western extremity of France, on the frontiers of Spain. It formerly included the three subdivisions of Labour, Lower Navarre, and Solle, and it is now comprehended in the department of the Lower Pyrenees. The entire New Test. in the Basque of Lower Navarre was published at Rochelle in 1571 under the title Jesus Christ Gure Javanaren Testamentu Berrit. It was translated by John De Ligarrague, a minister of the Reformed Church and a native of Bearn. In the dedication to Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre, at whose expense it was published, the translator savs: "Et peu s'en fallut que je ne desistasse entierement, vovant mon entreprise d'auttant plus grande, que la langue en la quelle j'ay escrit est de plus steriles et diverses, et du tout inusitue, pour le moins en traduuction." A copy of this New Test. was found in the library at the University of Oxford, and from this copy the British and Foreign Bible Society printed in 1825 at Bayonne one thousand copies of the gospel of Matthew, under the superintendence of Mr. Pyt, a minister of the Reformed Church in Biarn. The Roman Catholic bishop was opposed to the circulation of this edition, and destroyed about eight hundred copies of the same. This opposition only encouraged the British and Foreign Bible Society to publish another edition. Under the care of Mr. Montleza and the superintendence of friends at Bordeaux and Bayonne, the text of 1571 was altered in accordance with the modern forms of language, and so many changes were introduced as virtually to constitute a new version. The New Test. in this new and revised form was completed at press in 1828, and further editions soon followed. Since 1869 the same society has published the Basque New Test. in the Labourdin dialect.
II. Spanish Basque. — This dialect is spoken in the provinces of Biscay, Guipuscoa, and Alava. The educated class of the people can read and understand Spanish, but their native dialect has a peculiar charm for them, No portion whatever of the Scriptures appears to have been printed until the year 1838, when Mr. George Borrow, with the aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society, edited and published an edition of the gospel according to Luke. In 1848 this version of Luke was revised and amended by the translator, named Oteiza, and printed at the expense of the same society. As this translation was, however, a mixture of the Guxipuscdan and the Biscayan, an edition in the pure Guipiuscoan dialect was printed, at the expense of the Rev. J. E. Dalton, in 1870, to which in 1878 was added the gospel of John, which had been also translated at the expense of the same gentleman, under the care of Sefior de Brunet.
For linguistic purposes, see Bonaparte, Le Verbe Basque en Tableaux, accompagne de Notes Grammaticales,'selon les huit Dialectes de l'Euskara (Lond. 1869); Van Eys, Essai de Grammaire de la Langue Basque ( Amst. 1867); id. Grammaire Comparge des Dialectes Basques (1879). (B. P.)