Re: world war 1 pistols.
If they were speaking Basque, it sure wasn't Spanish, or any dialect of it. The languages are totally different, and don't even sound alike. It is sort of like the difference between, say, Italian and Chinese. You don't have to understand either to know they are not the same.
But there were also sheepherders in the U.S. from Cataluña (Catalonia); if they were speaking Catalán, then it would sound, as you say, like Spanish but not Spanish; a Spanish speaker will understand a lot of it.
As to the origins of the Basque language, I don't know if there have been any recent developments in research, but AFAIK no one knows. It is not Indo-European, and doesn't seem to have any Latin roots. Basically, your guess is as good as mine.
(Boy, did this thread wander off track. I apologize for my part in that.)
Last edited by Jim K; 06-19-2010 at 11:58 AM..