International Journal of Modern Anthropology

Log in or Register to get access to full text downloads.

Remember me or Register

The Basque Language: History and Origin

JD Bengtson


How do we discover the origin and history (and prehistory) of a language, even when there are no written records of earlier stages? The methods of historical linguistics analyze the following components: Basic vocabulary (lexicon); Morphology (grammar); Phonology (sound system); and Cultural vocabulary (words passed from culture to culture). The first three components tell us about the “genetic” origin of a language, while the fourth, cultural vocabulary, tells us about cultural contacts. The analysis of these components of the Basque language leads to the conclusion that its deep “genetic” lexical and grammatical structure is of Dene-Caucasian origin, while cultural contacts have included Semites, Egyptians, Celts, Germans, as well as the well-known contacts with early Latin (Roman Empire) and later forms of Latin (Romance languages).

Key Words: genetic classification of languages, historical linguistics, basic vocabulary, cultural vocabulary, historical morphology, historical phonology, linguistic contact

doi: 10.4314/ijma.v1i4.3
AJOL African Journals Online