Basque: a very genuine language

Published on 18/12/2018

Basque is a language that has been and continues to be a great mystery to scholars of comparative linguistics and philolinguistics. This authenticity of the Basque language has given rise to various theories in search of an explanation of its birth and evolution.

One of these theories would relate Basque to Berber, a language of North Africa, although the revision of the assumptions on which that theory was based, as well as phylogenetic studies of the Basque and Berber populations, have refuted the veracity of this theory.

These comparative studies have been done mainly looking for the existence of cognates, that is to say, of words whose phonetics has a similar sound and a related meaning. In this line of work, some authors have wanted to relate Euskera with Caucasian languages, but most of the cognates proposed by different authors have not managed to survive the criticisms of a more exhaustive analysis, found that these cognates are explainable because they are pure coincidences and that they fail to find regularity in phonetic correspondences. In addition, it would be difficult to maintain this relationship considering that the proto-Basque has a very reduced phonetic inventory with many limitations while the Caucasian languages have neat consonant inventories.

Perhaps the theory that has received the least criticism is the local evolution of the language from 16,000 B.C. with a mixture of the native hunter-gatherer population with the arrival of migrations of farmers, starting then the relative isolation that gave the Basque population its current genetic configuration.

Various phylogenetic studies have found some particular genetic characteristics in part of the Basque population which seems to prove this relative isolation and which explains its reflection in the evolution of the language.
Be that as it may, although we cannot explain clearly what the origin of Basque is and although we cannot relate it clearly to any of the existing languages, which is evident that Basque is a very special language and a mystery for lovers of language.

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Josh Gambin

Josh Gambin holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.

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