Los Vascos no han visto Pocahontas

There is no grammatical gender in Basque, but they do seperate two categories of nouns, which each have their own cases. Aitor initially explained these two categories as being for ‘people’ and ‘places’ – but obviously that leaves out a lot of nouns. Later, he summarized the difference as being between ‘living beings’ and ‘everything else’, which satisfied us until we came to an exercise involving the word tree. A tree is sort of a place, thought some of the students – you can build a house in a tree, for example. Others of us thought trees might count as living things – they’re organic, after all. Aitor seemed almost puzzled by the question. “Trees aren’t living things!” he said, before realizing the ambiguity of his own definition a second later.

So, trees go in the second category, along with inanimate objects (including places). People and animals are in a seperate category. I scrawled a note on the bottom of my paper, to help me remember – “Los Vascos no han visto Pocahontas” – “The Basques haven’t seen Pocahontas.”


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