NW Spain and SW France forms the country of Basque. The Pyrenees Mountains are a distinctive geographical feature in the country's topology. 'Basques' were the ancient inhabitants of Europe. Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa are the three provinces in Basque. Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of Basque Parliament. Bilbao and San Sebastian are the largest cities. Biarritz in France consisted of numerous people who continued to closely adhere to the Basque culture. An industrialized country, it controlled taxation and agriculture but struggled to achieve full independence. In the Middle Ages, the country survived invasions from the Arabs, French, Romans, Visigoth, and Spanish. Post invasion, the land of Basque was divided between France & Spain. Spanish naming tradition are followed by regions influenced by Basque culture. Certain Basque names and surnames are foreign transcribed into Basque tongue. For example, in English: Michael, and in Spanish: Miguel. In recent times, Basque names with corresponding meanings in other languages are gaining popularity. These Basque names don't have any origins in Spanish vocabulary and are independent in Basque language, as in, Odei “cloud”,”to investigate”. Although in some naming comparisons, similiar to Spanish names in the Basque country, Basque names remain rather distinctive. The Basque language is free from multiple dialects. There have been several linguistic attempts at discovering links between the Basque language and other languages, by various linguists, however no common connection has been found. The Basques have a unique language known as Euskara. More than 6 million people in Spain and more than 1 million in France speak this Euskara language. Educational systems are now considering the Basque language as an appropriate platform for classroom instruction. Most Basque speakers are bilingual speakers of either, Spanish or French. During the rule of Franco, the Spanish Dictator, Basque people were obligated to adopt Spanish names. After his death, most people replaced their mandated Spanish names with preferred names in their native Basque tongue. For example: From Miguel to Mikel. Spanish writer, Sabino Arana introduced the book Deun-Ixendegi Euzkotarra (Collection of Basque Saints' Names) in an attempt to replace Romantic names (Romanic names, Latin names, Neo Latin names) with Basque names. For example: “Koldobika“was the name adopted by this writer’s brother Luis from “Hlodwig” belonging to German dialect. Names like Nekane (“pain” +ne (given name) or Garbine (“clean “+ne,(given name) were frequent among Basque females which contained the suffix -ne. This suffix was considered to be essentially feminine. Basque surnames are easily identifiable by the small set characteristics. The surnames aren't patronyms, derived from the father, or from an individual's personal traits. Basque people derive their surnames from their family homes known as 'etxea'. For example: A tenant staying on rent with a farm owner would locally be recognised by the farm name, instead of his actual surname. Some Basque people belonged to noble Spanish families, having noble Basque surnames. Most of these people, especially Americans, became migrants of the Spanish Empire. The Spanish-American world developed a trend using Basque surnames. Common examples include: Mendoza — “cold mountain”, from Mendi “mountain” + Hotza “cold”. Basque surnames are often a combination of the family home or 'exteas' description or its first owner. An example of this combination is “Mendialdea” from Mendi (mountain) and Aldean (alongside). Traditionally, Basque names were written in the Latin form ( “Enneconis” which was the Basque name Eneko plus the Latin ending -is for “Enekoitz”). Spanish and French spelling conventions were used in writing names during the Medieval period. In northern Basque, many surnames developed the initial ’D’ from French 'de', thus Urarte became Duhart. With the invention of Euskara (the standard Basque language) further changes took place which modified the naming customs. These alternate spellings included the Spanish Echepare and French Detchepare in Euskara becomes Etxepare. During the Spanish rule of the country, Basque surnames had to be registered according to the Spanish phonetics. For instance, the Spanish sound “ch” merges the Basque “ts”, “tx”, and “tz”. So, if a person’s surname in the Basque language would be “Krutxaga” it used to be written as “Cruchaga”, since letter “k” is not used in Spanish. After the change in political power, the surnames were changed into a Basque version. However, Basque surnames are still prevalently written in Spanish. There have been many changes in the pronunciations of Basque surnames, such as in Basque, the letter “z” makes an “s” like sound, and is pronounced as “ sabala”, but the Spanish will read the surnames as “tha-bala” due to the Spanish's ennunciation of the letter “z” as the “th” sound. It is common to find a girl baby named Maria, honoring the Virgin Mary who was the Lord Jesus Christ's earthly mother. Ainhoa and Aitziber are both female names referring to the Virgin Mary. Alaia which means “happiness” and Amaia which means “end” are also popular for girls. Jose is a very popular name used for boys. Also, it's not uncommon for a masculine name to include the name Mary preceding another more masculine given name in boys.
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