Basque: intimate form "hi"


Senior Member
USA; English
Kaixo (hello) foreros,

For any Basque speakers here, I'd like to know what your experience is using the "intimate/very familiar" pronoun hi. In the textbooks I've seen, zu is used throughout as the 2nd person singular pronoun ("you"), considered appropriate for neutral and polite use. Apparently it can be used in speaking to friends, strangers, adults, children, anyone. But there is mention of the word hi as another pronoun for intimate use (taking different verb forms from zu), but I'm not sure what this really means. Is it used with a spouse, one's own child, parent, and in what kinds of situations?

An example of the verb forms:

ni naiz (I am)
zu zara (you are)
hi haiz ("intimate" you are)

Thanks :) Eskerrik asko
  • Hi! :p

    "Hi" pronuoun is an informal way of "zu", but is not used everywhere. Normally "zu" is used in all kind of situations, but in some areas they use "hi" but only to address a close friend, a child, but never to your parents, older people, boss...

    "Hi" verb form can be masculin or femenin, a total exception in basque language, and the verb changes depending on the person you address not the gender of the one who speaks (and normally is not used by women nowadays). Also the verb forms are different and don't follow "normal" rules.

    As I said before, it's normally used in some areas of villages, but not in a widespread way.

    A little example for the little I know about "hi":

    Egin duzu. = You've done. ("zu" form)
    Egin duk. = You've done. (addressing to a man)
    Egin dun. = You've done. (to a woman)

    Ekarri dizut. = I brought it for you. (zu)
    Ekarri diat. = I brought it for you. (hi- man)
    Ekarri dinat. = I brought it for you. (hi woman)

    Ez dakit. = I don't know
    Ez dakiat. = I don't know (talking to a man)
    Ez dakinat = I don't know (talking to a woman)

    Of course depending in the basque dialect it changes, and it's even ...pffff
    Thanks, yujuju!

    Wow, I didn't know there were different ways to say "ez dakit" depending on who you're speaking to ... so, in the examples you gave, the second and third of each group are all "hi" forms, or just the middle group?

    Do you personally use "hi" at all (I don't know if you're a man or woman) and why do you suppose women do not use it? Is it used more in rural areas than urban ones? And do you know in which dialects or provinces of the Basque Country it is mostly used?

    Thanks for your help!

    Are there any others in the forum who use this word or hear it used?
    Personally I don't use it, I don't know how to use it correctly, and in the school it's not taught always.

    In the examples the normal form I mean the zu-form is the first, others are hi-forms. What do you mean with middle form?

    And yes, it's more used in rural areas, but only in some areas is common.

    By the way, do you know the origin of why hi is so colloquial?
    Before, hi was the normal "you", and zu meant plural you. So zu was used as a formal way for singular "you", but finally it was so common that people understood it as singular you, and hi became an informal singular you. As this happened Basque had no plural you and zuek appeared, a kind of "zu" in plural.

    It's a bit messy with so many you you zu :S :p
    Very well explained, yujuju.

    Mmm... I think hitanoa (the hi form) is used mainly by people who have learnt it at home, and has get it from their parents. Of course, it is possible to learn it and use it, but I think people who learns euskara at ikastola or euskaltegi mostly don't.

    Most of my friends (Bizkaikoak) don´t use it but some of my mate's friends (Gipuzkoakoak) do.

    Are you learning basque? May be you want to read "Eztia eta ozpina", by Patxi Zubizarreta: lots of "hi" forms :S
    Thanks again, yujuju, and thanks also ezinsinistu.

    Euskaraz ikasten nahi dut... but I've only studied "pixka bat". I'm not at a level where I could read a book, even if it's a children's book like Eztia eta ozpina. :(
    Hi everyone!!

    I am a woman and I use "hi". But I have to say that nowadays it is not very usual unfortunately...

    In my village, for example, all the boys use "hi" but you will rarely hear young girls using it.
    Hi, I would like to help Orreaga with what I know; I'm from Donostia, and at my mother's home (my father doesn't speak Euskara) they never used to speak in hitano, apart from some expressions (Ixilik egon hadi! instead of Ixilik egon zaitez!). I think the rules of use of hitano (I mean, who to use it to) vary enormously almost from home to home, being more common in rural areas where Euskara has been better preserved.
    I spent most of my childhood in Bilbao (1962-1972), and the situation was very different. I think the repression under Franco and the low status of Euskara in big towns has led into an isolation of Euskera-speaking families or even individuals, and that make our family language poor, so many of the features of Euskara (vocabulary, hitano, etc.) were weakened or lost.
    In Oiartzun, where I live, hitano is commonly used. I can't use it, except in written, but it's not difficult for me to understand.
    Years ago, most of the Ikastolas decided not to teach hitano, because the big challenge was to reinforce learning in Euskara, and they decided to avoid the extra difficulty; but now they are gradually going back to teach it, wich is good.
    I hope this is useful to Orreaga and everyone else in the forum.
    Kaixo, Aranbide,

    Ongi etorri eta eskerrik asko!

    Yes, that was very helpful, this is the type of information I was looking for. I'm not familiar with "Ixilik egon hadi"-- what does it mean? I can't find anything starting with "ixil..." in my dictionary.

    I'm confused about why it seems that males use these forms more than females. Does anyone have an explanation?
    Well, it's my fault; I've written Ixilik instead of Isilik, as sometimes we pronounce it, so ixilik egon hadi! would means Shut up!. You would find the word isil in your dictionary.
    About the frequency of use between males and females, I don´t know if that's like that; I know lots of women that talk hitano to anyone, male or female. But it is probably true that some social restriction has existed: twenty years ago, a friend of mine spent some of his free time interviewing old Basque farmers around Bilbao, and when he asked a very old lady about hitano, she remembered how she used to talk that way to her brother. When asked about talking hitano to her friends she answered indignantly: 'Noski ezetz!' ('Of course not!'). My friend didn't dare asking further about the topic...