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Having been requested by Mr. Trübner to write a Basque Grammar in English, for his Series of “Simplified Grammars,
," I accepted with pleasure his flattering proposition, but not without some hesitation, as I had to write in a language which is not my own. I may add, that the concise form, which was a condition, has perhaps given occasionally an appearance of dogmatism in settling doubtful points, for the more ample discussion of which I must refer to my Grammaire Comparée.
W. J. VAN EYS.
SAN REMO, November, 1882.
The study of the Basque Language began with Larramendi, who composed a Grammar and a Dictionary. Taking the date into account, 1725, his labours are not inferior to many of those which appeared later, and comparatively, they are even much better than some works by recent authors, who have not Larramendi's excuse—the want of philological training. More and more there prevailed a tendency to condense the whole Grammar into the Verb, as if nothing else was worthy of attention, or offered any difficulty; and, again, the Verbs were condensed into one single Verb, and it was seriously assumed that the Basque language possessed one Verb only. It was not the Verb alone to which such childish theories were applied ; anything (and there was much) that was not understood, was considered to be extraordinary, and all that was extraordinary was deemed admirable. Sometimes well-established and undeniable facts (e.g., the existence of the Article) were flatly denied. Evidently those who first wrote about Basque had not the least notion of an agglutinative language (Hungarian, Turkish, &c.); but even in our languages, and principally in colloquial expressions, instances enough may be found by which to explain mysterious Basque forms. In our days more serious attention has been paid to Basque Grammar, and it has been found out that Basque, like all other languages, has Verbs, Pronouns, Nouns, &c. The confusion about the Verb arises from the agglutinative nature of the language; but still, as was said just now, there are in Dutch, and also in English, instances of agglutination and contraction exactly as in Basque,
If I want to say, “Hebt gy het hem gezegd” (Have you it to him said), I pronounce the Auxiliary with the Pronouns in one wordhy’ťm. The apostrophe represents the sound of e in 'begin;' writing the word with e's, we have hyetem, which is just as the Basques do. "Ain't' and 'Won't,' and the old English nist,' for 'I did not know,' are, it is true, exceptional forms, but they also serve to explain what happens in the Basque flection, where it is the logical consequence of a prolonged want of culture of the language. No one knowing any longer how the Basque flections were composed, the silly theory arose that they had only a conventional signification, in other words, that they had no signification at all; and this theory has adherents even in our days. Now that it has been discovered how the flections are formed, it is easy to analyze them, and when Liçarrague
“ Uste duc ecin othoitz daidiodala orain neure Aitari ” (Matt. xxvi. 53), “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my father,"-we know that daidiodala is the
' first person singular of the present indicative of edin, can,' preceded by d, 'it.' Thus, dadi (Liçarrague writes daidi) ; o is' him ;' d is 'I' (when final always t-dadit, 'I can it'); la is 'that;' a is a binding vowel. The