Vasconic languages

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This article is about the contemporary language group. See Vasconic theory for the "Vasconic languages" postulated for remote antiquity.
France, Spain
Linguistic classification: Language isolate
Proto-language: Proto-Basque
ISO 639-2 / 5: euq
Glottolog: (not evaluated)
The modern Basque dialects[1]
  Western Upper Navarrese
  Eastern Upper Navarrese
  Souletin (Zuberoan)

Vasconic languages (from Late Latin vasconĭce, from which Basque is derived) are the putative family of languages that includes Basque.

The concept of the Vasconic languages is often linked to the Vasconic substratum hypothesis of Theo Vennemann, who speculated that the ancestors of the Basque spread across Europe at the end of the last Ice Age when the Cro-Magnons entered Europe and left traces in the modern languages of Europe. Along with other hypotheses that seek to relate Basque to other languages of the world, this is widely rejected by historical linguists.[2]

Proponents of a Vasconic language family argue that Basque and the extinct Aquitanian are close relatives or that the modern varieties of Basque are distinct languages rather than dialects. These notions contradict conventional views that: Aquitanian is the ancestor of Basque; Aquitanian is descended from a hypothesized Proto-Basque and; the varieties of Basque are dialects with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility.[3] The conventional view is held by scholars including Koldo Zuazo, Koldo Mitxelena and Larry Trask. Trask states: "Nonetheless, the diversification should not be exaggerated, as has often been done in the literature: the dialects are overwhelmingly congruent in their fundamentals and differ chiefly in vocabulary and in a few low-level phonological rules."[4]

The only widely accepted extinct relative in Basque linguistics is Aquitanian, which is today considered the ancestor of Basque. As Trask puts it, "Aquitanian is so closely related to Basque that we can, for practical purposes, regard it as being the more-or-less direct ancestor of Basque."[4]:402

Various attempts have been made to tie other languages, modern or extinct, to the Vasconic group of languages such as Iberian, the language of the Cantabri, and various others. None of these theories have been able to provide convincing data and are rejected by mainstream Basque linguists.[4]


  1. ^ Classification of Koldo Zuazo
  2. ^
  3. ^ Pagola, RM Euskalkiz Euskalki Basque Government 1984
  4. ^ a b c Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2

See also[edit]