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Thread: Basque and Dene-Caucasian languages

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    Basque and Dene-Caucasian languages




    According to the Dene-Caucasian theory, all the colored areas on the map, representing language families or isolated languages, are supposed to belong to a same super language family encompassing three continents. Interestingly, you find Basque in it.






    Here are some languages similiraities between basque and languages of the Dene Caucasian family (except Dravidian) that are maybe cognates. (the following is taken from an old thread of mine but at the time I got no answers).

    *Basque : behi « cow » and behor « mare » from*beh- « female animal »/
    bourouchaski behé «female animal»
    *Basque: hagin « teeth » / hunzib (north east Caucasus) hagin « teeth»
    *Basque : bizar « beard » / dravidian : isal « moustache »
    *Basque: ile « hair » / dravidian ile « hair »
    *the word wine is all over in europe derived from *wain (greek woinos, latin. vinum, breton gwin…)which is close to the proto-semitic form. Basque has completely different word ardan- « wine, grape vine » which is close to Davidian (ardn "berry").
    *Dravidian guti,kuti "small" / Basque guti "few, small".
    *Basque eme « female » and ar « male » / Mongol eme « female » / ar « male »
    *the Dragon in the Basque mythology is called “Herensuge” with “suge” meaning snake=> the dragon “Erenkyl” in the Yakut Mythology with “Kyl” meaning snake
    Last edited by spongetaro; 10-12-11 at 18:37.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    By what kind of twisted probably should all of these languages be related ? I don't believe it at all. As for the few words of vocabulary that are similar, given that there are tens of thousands of words in every language, the probably that a few sound similar for meaning that are identical or similar is quite high. There are also cases of such uncanny cognates between Japanese and many European languages. For examples, "mecha" (mucha in some dialects) in Japanese means much (or mucho in Spanish). The Japanese "to" 戸 means door and is especially similar to Tor in German which also means door. 路 ("ro") means route, road. The Japanese "boya" (坊や) means boy. Kiru (斬る, the r is pronounced almost like a l) sounds like and means to kill. 女 ("onna") sounds like the Italian "donna" and means the same. 殿 ("dono") is a title meaning lord just like the Don in Italian and Spanish. The old Japanese pronunciation of "hi" (火 "fire") was "fi", which is quite close to the old English pronunciation of fire ("feer"). The Japanese for bone is hone/bone (骨). 詰まり (tsumari) means in short, in summary. The best of all is 名前 (namae) which means name (compare also to Old English nama, Italian nome and Sanskrit nama, all from the PIE root *nomn-). We could almost say that Japanese is related to Germanic and Italic languages !

    I already discarded the similarities that can be explained by intermediary borrowings. For example the Japanese for can is "kan" (缶) but it is a loanword from the Dutch in the 17th century. Some say that "arigato" (thanks) comes from Portuguese obrigado, but I doubt that the ultra-polite Japanese lacked that word until the 17th century, especially since the word "arigatai" (有難い, to be grateful) also exists.

    Japanese and Korean are actually classified as a distant relative of Ural-Altaic languages because of the grammar. Nevertheless there is almost no vocabulary in common. The only thing I could find was the word for black: kuro in Japanese, kara in Mongolian and Turkish.

    Here is another example of fortuitous similarities : anata in Japanese, meaning "you", is anta in Arabic and anda in Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia.

    Then I have been wondering about another case lately. Apparently the word typhoon can come either from the Greek typhein (meaning smoke), the Arabic Tufân (cyclonic storms), the Chinese 大風 (pronounced taifun in souther dialects), or the Japanese 大風 (taifuu, "big wind"), which obviously come from Chinese. The Arabic probably comes from the Greek, but gave it the same meaning as in Chinese/Japanese and English. I seriously doubt that Greek and Chinese influenced one another.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 10-12-11 at 20:02.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    By what kind of twisted probably should all of these languages be related ? I don't believe it at all. As for the few words of vocabulary that are similar, given that there are tens of thousands of words in every language, the probably that a few sound similar for meaning that are identical or similar is quite high. There are also cases of such uncanny cognates between Japanese and many European languages. For examples, "mecha" (mucha in some dialects) in Japanese means much (or mucho in Spanish). The Japanese "to" 戸 means door and is especially similar to Tor in German which also means door. Kiru (斬る, the r is pronounced almost like a l) sounds like and means to kill. 女 ("onna") sounds like the Italian "donna" and means the same. 殿 ("dono") is a title meaning lord just like the Don in Italian and Spanish. The old Japanese pronunciation of "hi" (火 "fire") was "fi", which is quite close to the old English pronunciation of fire ("feer"). 詰まり (tsumari) means in short, in summary. The best of all is 名前 (namae) which means name (compare also to Old English nama, Italian nome and Sanskrit nama, all from the PIE root *nomn-). We could almost say that Japanese is related to Germanic and Italic languages !

    Japanese and Korean are actually classified as a distant relative of Ural-Altaic languages because of the grammar. Nevertheless there is almost no vocabulary in common. The only thing I could find was the word for black: kuro in Japanese, kara in Mongolian and Turkish.

    Then I have been wondering about another case lately. Apparently the word typhoon can come either from the Greek typhein (meaning smoke), the Arabic Tufân (cyclonic storms), the Chinese 大風 (pronounced taifun in souther dialects), or the Japanese 大風 (taifuu, "big wind"), which obviously come from Chinese. The Arabic probably comes from the Greek, but gave it the same meaning as in Chinese/Japanese and English. I seriously doubt that Greek and Chinese influenced one another.


    The Dené Caucasian theory is not based on some vocabular similarities. There are common features in the structure of those languages. There is even a hypothtical reconstructed Proto Dene Caucasian. The theory is however disputed by a lots of Linguist but it is an atempt to link Basque with other existing languages.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dené–Caucasian_languages





    Haplogroup X might have had something to do with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    The Dené Caucasian theory is not based on some vocabular similarities. There are common features in the structure of those languages. There is even a hypothtical reconstructed Proto Dene Caucasian.
    How do you reconstruct a proto-language that isn't based on vocabulary ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dené–Caucasian_languages



    Haplogroup X might have had something to do with it.
    Even if there was a language link brought by the mtDNA X people, this would probably be just a few loanwords because X only makes up a tiny percentage of the population even in the Caucasus and North America. Then the areas of North America where Na-Dene is spoken have almost the reverse distribution of haplogroup X. Finally, haplogroup X in North America is a subclade that split over 20,000 years ago from the European subclades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    How do you reconstruct a proto-language that isn't based on vocabulary ?



    Even if there was a language link brought by the mtDNA X people, this would probably be just a few loanwords because X only makes up a tiny percentage of the population even in the Caucasus and North America. Then the areas of North America where Na-Dene is spoken have almost the reverse distribution of haplogroup X. Finally, haplogroup X in North America is a subclade that split over 20,000 years ago from the European subclades.

    The actual distribution of X can be mistaken. Mtdna X has its maximal frequency in Druze people which means that the people who brought agriculture to Europe might have carry a lots of X. Basque could be somewhat related to a language from that period.
    Anyway if Basque language was linked with any haplogroup, it would be found at a very low frequency in Basque people today, unless you think that Basque is the original language of R1b people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    How do you reconstruct a proto-language that isn't based on vocabulary ?
    The theory is not based Exclusively on vocabulary like all languages theory.
    You have to consider t as a supefamily theory which means hat it goes back to paleolithic timeswhile the IE languages go back to Chalcolithic times

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    I don't have much to add here because Maciamo beat me to the punch with it, except for a few details.

    First off, regarding the tree represented there. There are many sub-concepts in the tree of macro-families (Nostratic, or even worse, Amerind) which are highly disputed concepts in themselves. It Is also amusing that the one hypothesis of a macro-connection which has a bit of more mainstream acceptance (Na-Dene Yeniseian) is basically split apart in this tree, and Na-Dene is lumped closer with Northwest Caucasian (!) and Sino-Tibetan, whereas Yeniseian is lumped closer with the Burushaski language of the Tibetan plateau. What is the likelihood of all this? I would say none.

    I'd also issue a cautious word regarding the comparison of modern words. If I pick the Dene-Yeniseian hypothesis, what precided it was decades of research on the proper reconstruction of the Proto-Na-Dene language, and it was then compared against Yeniseian. Many apparent cognates go over board if you consider that the languages have individual evolution to them, and the ancestral form may have looked completely different. On top of that, Basque "eme" is a Romance loanword (compare French "femme", Latin "femina")!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    I don't have much to add here because Maciamo beat me to the punch with it, except for a few details.

    First off, regarding the tree represented there. There are many sub-concepts in the tree of macro-families (Nostratic, or even worse, Amerind) which are highly disputed concepts in themselves. It Is also amusing that the one hypothesis of a macro-connection which has a bit of more mainstream acceptance (Na-Dene Yeniseian) is basically split apart in this tree, and Na-Dene is lumped closer with Northwest Caucasian (!) and Sino-Tibetan, whereas Yeniseian is lumped closer with the Burushaski language of the Tibetan plateau. What is the likelihood of all this? I would say none.

    I'd also issue a cautious word regarding the comparison of modern words. If I pick the Dene-Yeniseian hypothesis, what precided it was decades of research on the proper reconstruction of the Proto-Na-Dene language, and it was then compared against Yeniseian. Many apparent cognates go over board if you consider that the languages have individual evolution to them, and the ancestral form may have looked completely different. On top of that, Basque "eme" is a Romance loanword (compare French "femme", Latin "femina")!
    Thank you. But what is the linguists'mainstream view concerning the Basque language today? What is the most likely conection with another language?

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    The theory is not based Exclusively on vocabulary like all languages theory.
    You have to consider t as a supefamily theory which means hat it goes back to paleolithic timeswhile the IE languages go back to Chalcolithic times
    Even if the relation is based on grammar, as I explained above, Japanese has essentially the same grammar as Altaic languages (which sprang out of Mongolia), but doesn't have anything else in common. I see grammar as a kind of fashion that changes with time. All ancient IE languages had declensions, gender (many with a neutral in addition to masculine and feminine), etc. but Romance and Germanic languages all lost declensions except German and Scandinavian languages. Grammatically, modern English has little in common with old Indo-European languages. It even lost all its declensions, most of its conjugation, most of its genders (except in words that have a gender in their meaning like man and woman) and has developed tenses not found in most other IE languages (like the present perfect). Does that make it a non-IE language ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    Thank you. But what is the linguists'mainstream view concerning the Basque language today? What is the most likely conection with another language?
    The safest way, I suppose, is to treat Basque as an isolate language, which of course does not lead anywhere. What everybody also can agree on is that the Aquitanian language, sparsely documented by a few names recorded in Roman sources, is probably the same as what has been reconstructed as Proto-Basque. Beyond that, it's difficult. The idea to connect Basque and Iberian is pretty obvious, but there is no consensus about that. At a minimum, one would assume that there are Iberian loanwords in Basque (or vice versa), and that the two languages were not (closely?) related but part of a common sprachbund. Beyond that, the most logical thing would indeed be to connect Basque with one of the various Caucasian language families (Karvelian, Northeast Caucasian, Northwest Caucasian, and by extension you might supplement the list by Hurro-Urartian, which as an extinct language family fits also into the same general area). The problem is that it's not even known if and how these are related amongst each other, thereby making any connection very difficult.

    Another problem is the depth of time. For many of the Caucasus languages (regardless of family), we only have knowledge of the modern languages. How do you connect languages in a situation like this?
    Last edited by Taranis; 10-12-11 at 21:53.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I see grammar as a kind of fashion that changes with time. All ancient IE languages had declensions, gender (many with a neutral in addition to masculine and feminine), etc. but Romance and Germanic languages all lost declensions except German and Scandinavian languages. Grammatically, modern English has little in common with old Indo-European languages. It even lost all its declensions, most of its conjugation, most of its genders (except in words that have a gender in their meaning like man and woman) and has developed tenses not found in most other IE languages (like the present perfect). Does that make it a non-IE language ?
    The more I think about grammar the more I'm sure, that the big shifts and changes coincide with big historical events. Same as with sound shifts, grammar shifts occur when language becomes a second language.
    Compare it to evolutionary forces. We have African Homo Sapience mixing with Neanderthals, and in couple of tens of thousand of years we have Cro Magnon, adapted to live in Eurasia. Without the mixing Homo Sapience would need hundred thousand of years to adapt by his own. Likewise, mixing of languages acts as accelerator in their evolution.

    Few examples:
    English - a product of mixing few languages, at least two second languages. Latin was introduced over local population for 500 years, then germanic languages. As second languages they've never been learned in correct, original form. Keep in mind that Bretonic might have been already a second language for locals, after celtic invasions. At the end we have English, a language of simplest grammar, at least in Europe.

    Macedonian - it is an interesting case. It has the simplest grammar of all slavic languages, when compared to other slavic languages still with 7 declensions and very complicated grammar. It might prove that Macedonians didn't speak slavic in the past, and slavic is their second language, the language of invaders.

    Latin - one of original EI language with complicated grammar. Vulgar Latin, Italian and other romance languages arose from Latin being a second language for conquered tribes of different languages. Again the source language got simplified with sound shifts.

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    Do we have Basque R1b clad list? Can we connect them to any of West Asian R1b hot spots? What about any mDNA links?
    I was looking, but data is hard to find.

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    As for the relationship between Basque and Iberian, I would say that, as with the aDNA results of G2a recently found in Mediterranean Iberia, it would at least to me seem likely that the Iberian language is from the Neolithic. It thus follows that if Iberian and Basque are related, then Basque must be from the Neolithic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Do we have Basque R1b clad list? Can we connect them to any of West Asian R1b hot spots? What about any mDNA links?
    I was looking, but data is hard to find.
    No, R1b of Basques has nothing to do with that of caucasus. It's the typical Western-European S116 subclades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    The more I think about grammar the more I'm sure, that the big shifts and changes coincide with big historical events. Same as with sound shifts, grammar shifts occur when language becomes a second language.
    Compare it to evolutionary forces.
    It's an interesting theory but some your examples can be easily dismissed.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Few examples:
    English - a product of mixing few languages, at least two second languages. Latin was introduced over local population for 500 years, then germanic languages. As second languages they've never been learned in correct, original form. Keep in mind that Bretonic might have been already a second language for locals, after celtic invasions. At the end we have English, a language of simplest grammar, at least in Europe.
    Old English replaced completely and utterly all previous languages in England, be it Latin or Celtic. Old English almost didn't have any loan word from Latin, except words like belt or tower. That's why historians long believed that the Anglo-Saxons had exterminated or force-exiled the ancient Britons to Wales and Cornwall, leaving a pure Germanic society (until genetics proved that it wasn't the case, so the native Britons all learnt Anglo-Saxon). Old English evolved into Middle English in pretty much the same way as Old Dutch evolved into Middle Dutch. The two languages were still quite mutually intelligible in the 11th century, despite 500 years of separate evolution. Both grammars started to show signs of simplifications without any outside influence.

    Modern English resulted from the long brewing of Middle English with Norman French between the 11th century and the 16-17th century. The two languages progressively merged, but that doesn't explain why English lost its conjugation and grammar since both Germanic and Romance languages had them and have kept them to this day. English grammar kept irregular tenses only for basic Germanic verbs, but dropped the SOV (subject-object-verb) structure to adopt the Romance SVO. English also adopted the Romance plural in -s in replacement of the regular Germanic plural in -en and the numerous irregular Germanic plurals (except for a few common words like child-children or foot-feet).

    So the reason English grammar is simple is not because of its ancient Celtic or Roman population, which didn't have any influence on the modern language, nor due to the fact that people were immigrants since there was virtually no change in population after the Norman invasion, and the Normans were only a tiny minority, and an educated one at that, so not one that would simplify grammar. It's hard to really pinpoint why English simplified its grammar, just like it's hard to know why the English like to do so many things differently from other Europeans.

    Macedonian - it is an interesting case. It has the simplest grammar of all slavic languages, when compared to other slavic languages still with 7 declensions and very complicated grammar. It might prove that Macedonians didn't speak slavic in the past, and slavic is their second language, the language of invaders.
    I don't know enough about Macedonian, but this example might be correct.

    Latin - one of original EI language with complicated grammar. Vulgar Latin, Italian and other romance languages arose from Latin being a second language for conquered tribes of different languages. Again the source language got simplified with sound shifts.
    Actually the only people conquered by the Romans who adopted Latin were the Italic and Celtic speakers, who spoke a language very close to Latin, the Iberians (who were sandwiched between Celtiberians and Romans), and the Greeks from South Italy who were just too close to Rome not to adopt Latin (although many South Italian communities kept speaking Greek deep into the Middle Ages, and Greek dialects are still spoken today in some remote villages in Calabria). The reason is that Latin was simply too difficult to learn for people who had an non-IE mother-tongue (like in North Africa and the Levant) or spoke Greek (which is only partly IE). Aromuns in the Balkans probably descent from the Celtic communities that had settled in the Balkans as well as Romans (from Italy) who moved to the region. Note that the Basques resisted Latinisation despite being surrounded.

    I don't see how the grammar of Vulgar Latin could be influenced by Celtic languages since they had grammars with declensions much closer to Classical Latin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Note that the Basques resisted Latinisation despite being surrounded.
    They resisted Latinisation in the present day Basque country only, if you consider that all the Aquitania was a Basque speaking area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    They resisted Latinisation in the present day Basque country only, if you consider that all the Aquitania was a Basque speaking area.
    Indeed. If you look into Basque vocabulary, the overwhelming amount of non-native terms are Latin or Romance loanwords.

    In contrast to that, the amount of Celtic loanwords into Basque is tiny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    They resisted Latinisation in the present day Basque country only, if you consider that all the Aquitania was a Basque speaking area.
    Yes but it was a very slow and progressive advance of Latin, taking centuries to "convert" the Gascon-speaking population. Even to this day Romance languages are still slowly gaining ground over Basque.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    Indeed. If you look into Basque vocabulary, the overwhelming amount of non-native terms are Latin or Romance loanwords.

    In contrast to that, the amount of Celtic loanwords into Basque is tiny.
    Which also proves my point that Basque speakers, as non-IE, had difficult learning IE languages like Celtic. Latin and Romance languages had to progress in all logic against Gascon-Vascon-Basque because of their tremendous influence in almost every domain. Most of the innovations (in sciences, arts, politics...) in Western Europe went from Latin/Romance regions to Gascony/Basque country, very rarely the other way round. That why Basque so many Latin/Spanish loanwords and why bilingual Basque and Latin/Spanish/French speakers eventually chose to teach the latter to their children. As their are relatively few bilingual couples in society, it took centuries, village by village, for Latinisation to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Yes but it was a very slow and progressive advance of Latin, taking centuries to "convert" the Gascon-speaking population.
    As early as the VIth century, most of the area where proto Basque (Aquitanian) was spoken became Gascon speaking (Romance language).

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    As early as the VIth century, most of the area where proto Basque (Aquitanian) was spoken became Gascon speaking (Romance language).
    When I wrote Gascon, I meant ancient Gascon (Aquitanian), not the Occitan dialect. Btw the Gascon dialect didn't exist in the 6th century. It was still Vulgar Latin.

    So it took over 500 years for the Basque/Aquitanian speakers in Gascony to adopt Latin since the Roman conquest. It only took the Celtic-speaking Gauls one or two generations, one of the fastest language shift in European history ! I think you are starting to see my point (about Lebrok's argument that Celts couldn't speak Latin well because it was too different, which it obviously wasn't).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    So it took over 500 years for the Basque/Aquitanian speakers in Gascony to adopt Latin since the Roman conquest. It only took the Celtic-speaking Gauls one or two generations, one of the fastest language shift in European history ! .
    This is not what I found on wikipedia. Aquitanian and Gauls probably became Latin speaker at the same time

    Malgré l'apparente similitude des deux langues (syntaxe, numération, morphologie) le gaulois et le latin vulgaire, l'assimilation est plutôt lente puisqu’elle s'achève après plusieurs siècles, probablement après l'évangélisation des milieux ruraux sous Dagobert
    What took one or two generations to adopt a Latin language is the adoption of Langue d'oil by the viking in Normandy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    They resisted Latinisation in the present day Basque country only, if you consider that all the Aquitania was a Basque speaking area.
    Basque today is not jus spoken in Basque Country, also in Navarra, specially northern navarra, that area is a hotspot of basque speakers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spongetaro View Post
    This is not what I found on wikipedia. Aquitanian and Gauls probably became Latin speaker at the same time.
    There might have been pockets of resistance to Latin in some rural areas, especially those far away from the main Roman cities. But a sizeable part of the Gaulish elite already spoke Latin before the Roman conquest, and the rest of the elite adopted it very quickly to keep their political influence. Many Gaulish chieftains were nominated to the Roman Senate during Julius Caesar's lifetime. Gaul was the most Romanised part of the Empire and provided two temporary capitals of the Western Roman Empire, namely Mediolanum (Milan) from 286 to 402 and Augusta Trevorum (Trier) from 383 to 388. It may seem obvious now that North Italy was very Romanised but it was no less a part of Gaul. What may be less obvious is that the most Romanised part of Gaul besides North Italy was the Rhine region, which had the biggest cities and garrisons. The least Romanised part of Gaul was Western France, except the Loire Valley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    . It may seem obvious now that North Italy was very Romanised but it was no less a part of Gaul.
    What the Romans called Gauls is really hard to comprehend. They included areas that had nothing to do with each other like Aquitania (Basque speaking), Gallia Belgica and the West side of the Rhine (Celtic but under Germanic influences).If Gaul was a nation gathering Celtic tribes, then it should have included all celtic lands of Central Europe, less Aquitania. I'm more and more convinced that the modern concept of "Gaul" is a Cesar's invention.

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