Linguistic and genetic singularities in the Western Pyrenees: a review of the latest proposals about Basque. B. Oyharçabal (CNRS, UMR 5478) HIPVAL ( OHLL ) Aussois, 22/09/2005. Linguistics Presence of a non IE language spoken in the Aquitanian-Iberian region since a remote period
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B. Oyharçabal (CNRS, UMR 5478)
Presence of a non IE language spoken in the Aquitanian-Iberian region since a remote period
(Michelena 1964, Trask 1997)
Basquesmay be the most direct descendants of upper Paleolithics
(Bernard & Ruffié 1976, Cavalli-Sforza et al 1994)
Non-IE languages present in Western Europe 2000 years ago (or before) are supposed to have preceded the spread of Indo-European languages (except Punic settlements) : Basque, Iberian, Ligurian, Tartessian, ...
Only indirect evidence, because first evidence of the presence of Basque is recent (2000 years ago).
“Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which is inhabited by the Belgae, another by the Aquitani, and the third by those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls.
All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani.”
Aquitanian = Proto-Basque
(Luchaire, Lafon, Michelena, Gorrotxategi)
It was possible to reconstruct the phonology of Basque (major achievement of Michelena 1960/1976)
However, it is not clear where Basque language’s western limits were at this time.
Genetic singularity of the Basque population was established a long time ago using data linked to classical polymorphisms, such as:
Rhesus Negative Blood Group frequency (Boyd & Boyd 1937, Mourant 1947)
O-Allele frequency (Bernard & Ruffié 1976)Histiographical background regarding genetic studies on Basque population
Thick lines: isogeniccurves
O-allele frequency: 0,70 (yellow)
O-allele frequency: 0,73 (green)
Late paleolithic population expansion as revealed by mtDNA analysis (Haplogroup V)
From Torroni & al 1998
These linguists try to make their proposals coherent with geogenetic data
Vasco-Iberian hypothesis studies
abandoned when it became clear that despite some similarities Basque was of no help to understand Iberian texts, which can be read since the middle of the 20th century
(contrary to what happens with Aquitanian names).
abandoned when it was noticed that the proposed comparisons had serious methological flaws, especially because all the Causasian languages (Karvelian + Eastern and Western Northern Caucasian languages) were considered as forming one family.Why the two major hypotheses were set aside
Bengtson (1991,1995, 2003),
Macro Caucasian (MC):
Basque + Burushaski + ‘Northern Caucasian’
Ruhlen (1994) argues that DC is so remote (prior to Eurasiatic) that genetic relationships between populations have been lost,
Despite recents efforts by Bengtson (2003) to establish phonological correspondances with Proto-Caucasian,
nothing convincing remains: no specialist shares Bengtson’s and Ruhlen’s view regarding Basque’s connection to DC.
T. Venneman (1994,1998, 2003)
follows the tradition of
Vasconic (VH) studies
SemitidicNon-IE languages in Europe after last Ice-Age (Venneman 2003)
Vasconic expansion would have followed the repopulation of Europe by Vasconic people leaving the Aquitanian-Iberian refugium after the last ice-age
(from Venneman 2003)
eg. -a (suffixed det.) is lately derived from dem. har-;
eg. lat. grandis, bq. handi or haundi> vc.*grandi or *graundi
(Proto-Basque words admitted no initialconsonantclusters)
eg. -ing. knife < fr. canif / canibet < bq. ganibet
(von Wartburg: o.frq. *knif > fr. canif / canibet).
(OldBasque nouns had no final plosives)
IV. CONCLUSION of Europe
Despite the support of genetic studies on population, disappointing results of Vennemann’s substrate analysis ...
- inherent limits of substrate analysis, especially in the case of remote substitution (very little or no information at all regarding the substituted language);
- the alleged linguistic homogeneity of W-Europe before IE-expansion may be wrong; cf. Trask’s patchwork pattern, which makes substrate analyses unavailable (because unrestricted).
During the same period, historical studies on Basque have progressed outside multilateralist studies (Gomez & Sainz, Hualde, Igartua, Lakarra, Trask, etc.), which have been of no benefit at all to Basque historical studies;
Internal reconstruction is still the best tool to make our knowledge of the history of Basque advance.
As genetic studies are making progress, the correlation between isolated languages and population histories can be studied in a more effective way focussing on shorter periods of the past.
Population History and Linguistic Variation
in the Western Pyrenees (HIPVAL): heterogeneity factors
among Basque populations
First results : 2007
B. Arveiler , F. Bauduer, P. Darlu, N. Izagirre
D. Comas, L. Quintana-Murci
R. Etxepare, E. Montoya, B. Oyharçabal, J. Salaberria