In this article, we examine some aspects of the interaction between Standard Basque (see also Jauregi & Epelde in LME 2019) and traditional varieties of the Basque language. The questions that arise in this context are, on the one hand, the possible “substrate” effects of local varieties on the pronunciation of Standard Basque, so that Standard Basque may be starting to show regional variation, and, on the other, the influence that Standard Basque may be having on traditional local varieties.
We focus on the singular/plural distinction, which in many traditional varieties is conveyed by differences in accentuation and in Standard Basque, instead, is expressed by differences in the segmental shape of suffixes. The results of our preliminary investigation show that accentual distinctions between singular and plurals (or other accentual contrasts) are generally not transferred to Standard Basque. That is, in some geographical areas, speakers use different accentual rules in Standard Basque and when speaking in their native dialect. On the other hand, in some other geographical areas, traditional contrasts in accentuation are no longer being made, showing perhaps convergence with the Standard in this respect; but speakers still use different morphological endings and different morphophonological rules in the two varieties that they speak. By focusing on this specific aspect of linguistic structure (accentuation and morphological number marking) we wish to contribute to a better understanding of the complex interaction between traditional Basque varieties and Standard Basque.