Basque Language Part I
Dear Member of Blavatsky Net, Since the discussion of the last two newsletters has included references to the Basque, I wanted to pursue the question of the Basque specifically in this newsletter. The origins of the Basque people and the origins of their language are a mystery to conventional science. Blavatsky gives a somewhat specific answer to their origins in this possibly puzzling quote:
Palæolithic European man of the Miocene and Pliocene times was a pure Atlantean, as we have previously stated. The Basques are, of course, of a much later date than this, but their affinities, as here shown, go far to prove the original extraction of their remote ancestors. The "mysterious" affinity between their tongue and that of the Dravidian races of India will be understood by those who have followed our outline of continental formations and shiftings. (SDii790)
First of all, what affinities? Scholarship does not admit to any affinities between Basque and Dravidian. And what connection between Basque and Dravidian is offered by Theosophy's outline of continental formations and shiftings? The answer could easily be puzzling. I will start the search with the question of language affinities.
A starting place is the University of Nevada, Reno. They bill themselves as one of the most beautiful college campuses and they certainly look it with the view of the mountains behind them ( www.unr.edu/tour ). In Nevada there is a concentration of Basque people and the University houses the Center for Basque Studies ( www.basque.unr.edu ). This site should be knowledgeable and appreciative on all things Basque.
Their FAQ asks two questions of interest.
Where do they come from? No one knows exactly where the Basques came from. Some say they have lived in that area since Cro-Magnon man first roamed Europe. Estimates of how long they have lived there vary from 10,000 to 75,000 years. Some say they are descended from the original Iberians. More fanciful theories exist, as well. One is that the Basques are the descendents of the survivors of Atlantis.
Of course Theosophy says the Basque do come from Atlantis. But at least Atlantis receives mention though being called "fanciful".
Where does the Basque language come from? Just as no one is sure about the origins of the Basques themselves, linguists are not in agreement over the origins of Euskara, the Basque language, either. ... Although there are theories (none of them proven beyond a doubt) that Basque is related to other languages (such as the Georgian family of languages in the Caucasus, or the Berber language family [CroMagnon Atlanteans] of Africa, or even the Quechua language of Latin America), so far the only thing most experts agree on is that Euskara is in a language family by itself. That is, it is not related to any other language in the world. It is, therefore, not an Indo-European language (the large group to which English, French, Spanish, and Russian belong).
So this is the standard academic view - the reach to the Berbers is as far as we get. It repeats what can be found in other sources as well - "not related to any other language in the world".
Wikipedia.com often servers well although their articles represent the standardized view: They classify Basque as a "language isolate" in this quote:
A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship with other living languages; that is, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common to any other language. They are in effect language families consisting of a single language. Commonly cited examples include Basque, Ainu, Burushaski, and Korean, though in each case a minority of linguists claim to have demonstrated a relationship with another language (see Dene-Caucasian, Karasuk, and Altaic, for example).
(Note that reference to Ainu, a Japanese languare with at least 150,000 speakers, along with Basque. We will come across it once again below and in next month's newsletter. Note also Altaic happened to occur last month while discussing Atlantean settlement in Asia. Interesting connections seem to be developing.)
Digging deeper into Theosophy, there is only one other quote that mentions both Basque and the Dravidians - though I don't think it helps much.
Anyhow the Aeolians of Atlantis were Aryans on the whole, as much as the Basques-- Dr. Pritchard's Allophylians--are now southern Europeans, although originally belonging to the South Indian Dravidian stock (their progenitors having never been the aborigines of Europe prior to the first Aryan emigration, as supposed). (Five Years of Theosophy, Leaflets from Esoteric History. p 334
So how can we possibly trace back the Basque language if it cannot be traced back at all?
One of the helpful endeavors in this quest is the work of the linguist and Atlantologist R. Cedric Leonard. He has written a helpful book "Quest for Atlantis" and has much to say on this subject at www.atlantisquest.com/Linguistics.html:
"What I will endeavor to show here is that the various dialects of what I believe was the original language of the Atlanteans accompanied the Cro-Magnon people as they swept into the western portions of Europe and Africa from Atlantis. The remains of this phenomenon exist to this day in what I call the Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex. This complex stretched from Morocco in North Africa, across Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula, on up into the Dordogne Valley of France and Brittany, continuing northward to the British Isles. If such an Atlantic language did exist, we will have identified the Atlantean language, at least provisionally. At the very least, we can ask if such a unified, widespread language did not come from Atlantis, from where did it come?"
Since the Berbers were also Cro Magnons along with the others he mentions, Cedric Leonard has defined a language complex for that group - a group that were also Atlanteans according to Theosophy.
Professional anthropologists have already postulated, in a classic work on European ethnology, that the modern day Basque people of the Pyrenees Mountains (northern Spain/southern France) speak a language inherited directly from Cro-Magnon Man (Ripley, 1899). To give a couple of illustrative examples of the reasons for the above postulation, the Basque (Euskara) word for knife means literally "stone that cuts," and their word for ceiling means "top of the cavern" (Blanc, 1854). (Cedric Leonard) Ethnologist Michael A. Etcheverry states his opinion that the Basques, having fought off assimilation by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Franks, were themselves the direct descendants of the Ice Age Cro-Magnon people who had, more than any others, avoided both the modification of their genetic makeup and their language during the following era of Neolithic expansion. (Ryan & Pittman, 1998) -quoted from Leonard's site
Another excellent Atlantologist, Otto Muck (a German name pronounced "mook") wrote "The Secret of Atlantis" and adds some more insight into the origins of Basque. It differs considerably from the "language isolate" that one reads about so frequently.
According to [F.N.] Finck [one of the greatest authorities on comparative philology], the lesser-known languages of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Mediterranean region are distantly related to ancient Basque, and we know that the oldest Italic aboriginal tribe was called Osci, identical with Ausci and Vascones. If we take these and all the foregoing facts into account, we begin to get a picture of a worldwide complex of linguistic relationships that transcend time and space. We can see Basque, an oddity among modern European languages, as the last relic of a prehistoric world language that was spoken on both sides of the Atlantic. (p127)
While I am quoting from Muck, there is one more citation he gives that maybe is worth repeating. Would we accept the reputed word of a smuggler for the inside story and for local flavor?
Can we find any solid reasons for believing that here, in the Basques, a relic of Atlantis has been preserved? The Basques themselves provide one: they still have a clear memory of Atlantis. Ernst von Salomon mentions this in his travel book Boche in Frankreich (Boche in France). In about the year 1930, he met a Basque smuggler with aquiline features who talked to him about his people. They were, said the Basque, the finest, proudest, and most independent race on Earth, the same today as in the time described by Titus. They still wore the same costumes, used the same knives, employed the same methods of tilling their fields. Nobody ever betrayed his kith and kin; all still spoke their own language, the oldest language in the world. Von Salomon continues, "The Basques, he said, are the last relics of a more beautiful, freer, prouder world, long ago sunk below the sea together with Altantis, one of whose last remaining pillars was the Pyrenees, and the other the mountain of Morocco..." (p. 129)
Despite all these connections, none of the Atlantologists that I have read ever mention Dravidian. So with all these pointers back to Atlantis, and with Blavatsky pointing the way, it is time to turn to Dravidian and see if it can be connected to Basque. This is such an unlikely connection that we can hardly expect to find it.
We can start with the entry for Dravidian at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dravidian_languages.
The origins of the Dravidian languages, as well as their subsequent development and the period of their differentiation, are unclear, and the situation is not helped by the lack of comparative linguistic research into the Dravidian languages. In addition to Elamite, unsuccessful attempts have also been made to link the family with the Japonic languages, Basque, Korean, Sumerian, the Australian Aboriginal languages and the unknown language of the Indus Valley civilisation.
So Wikipedia only offers that an attempt to connect Dravidian with Basque was tried but was unsuccessful.
Yet there is hope. There happens to exist a web page entitled: "Dravidian/Basque Association." at www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/bronze/dravid.htm
The introduction to the page explains that there is a hypothesized language, Saharan, that is the connecting link between Dravidian and Basque.
An ancient language form that originated in the North African area of our most ancient civilizations has been studied by Nyland (2001). He found that many words used to describe names of places and things on the Indian Subcontinent seem to be closely related to the ancient language, which is being called Saharan. It appears that the Basque language is a close relative to the original Saharan. Following is a discussion of this relationship. Nyland, mentioned above, wrote Linguistic Archaeology: An Introduction
This page, http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/bronze/dravid.htm, gives a list of many words in common between Dravidian and Basque. For some examples: "ura" in Dravidian means "wife" while "urruxa" in Basque means "female". "ali" in Dravidian means "woman" while "ala" in Basque means "girl". See the cited web page for many more.
That same web page contains more of interest:
A group of comparative linguists in the United States developed a system that they called the "Lexico-Statistical Method" and attempted to put a percentage figure on the degree to which languages are related (M.Swadesh, Linguistics Today, 1954). It is based on the percentage of resemblances between 200 words considered to be essential in a language:
The oldest names for parts of the body and its functions Pronouns and numerals Names for dwellings, children and families Domestic animals
The well-known Basque linguist A. Tovar followed this method to measure the degree of kinship of Basque with other languages of non-Indo-European origin. The closest relationship he found was with Berber (11%) followed by Circaskian/Kirrukaskan (7.5%), Coptic (6.5%), Arabic (3.25%).
That the connection to Berber was the closest of all non-Indo_European origin languages is interesting. But the next paragraph is the most interesting of all:
Then he asked Dr. Lahovary to try this method on Dravidian, with the astounding result of 50+%. This meant that, of all the languages tested so far, the Dravidian language was closest to Basque by far. However, the ease with which Edo Nyland assembled the long list of related Basque-Ainu words, makes it likely that Ainu could even be closer to early Basque than Dravidian. A student of Lexico-Statistical Method should test this possibility.
That paragraph thoroughly, and perhaps surprisingly, justifies Blavatsky connecting the two languages - though none of the other Atlantologists did. Also please note the reference to Ainu, a Japanese language. More on that startling connection next month.
Portions of the Saharan language is still spoken as Dravidian in India (170 million speakers), as Ainu on the island of Hokkaido (18,000 speakers in 2005) and as Basque in Euskadi, Spain (800,000 speakers in 2005).
Nyland does more theorizing about his Saharan. The name comes from a hypothetical people living in the Sahara desert. Based on Blavatsky's history of humanity I suspect he has many errors in his theories of peoples and their movement. However, he probably does have sound truths woven into his theories concerning language origins.
Here however, is a little more quotation from his site:
Reason for the association between Dravidian and Basque: A calamity of unprecedented scale must have driven large numbers of people from the once well-populated North African area, starting about 10,000 bce. ... To political power and civilization, we might add the vibrant Goddess religion of the North Africans. The present evidence of significant remnants of the Saharan language in distant parts of the world shows that their language took hold wherever they settled. ... All of these people believed absolutely in reincarnation, which meant that a person, with all his/her knowledge and experiences, would live on in a newborn when the body died. Risk taking was part of the joy of living, even if lives of productive people were frequently lost. Reincarnation would then restore the deceased person to active life. It was all part of living. ... It should be noted that the Basques and the Dravidians had never been in physical contact with each other, living in widely separated areas. Therefore, the language they shared with the Dravidians must have been acquired from a common, North African source.
Note here that he infers a common North African source for Dravidians and Basques in the Saharan desert and postulates a separation ocurring about 10,000 years ago. He is approximately right about the time. However the area of commonality or origin of the two languages is Atlantis or the land connecting Atlantis with Lemuria. More will be explained on that subject in next month's newsletter.
In this newsletter we stop with that very striking confirmation - that of all languages, Dravidian is the one closest to Basque and measured astonishingly at a rate of over 50%.
"The Secret Doctrine 1888" - the magnum opus of Madame Blavatsky.
"5 Years of Theosophy" - facsimile of 1885 by Blavatsky. Contains many gems of unusual Theosophical information.
"The Secret of Atlantis" by Otto Muck 1976. Must reading for anyone serious about Atlantis. Out of print.
"The Shadow of Atlantis" by Alexander Braghine 1940. A well studied Atlantologist who's work is still kept in print today.
"Linguistic Archaeology: An Introduction" by Edo Nyland.
"Noah's Flood: The new scientific discoveries about the event that changed history" by Ryan, William & Pitman, Walter 1998.
"Dravidian origins and the West: Newly discovered ties with the ancient culture and languages, including Basque, of the pre-Indo-European Mediterranean world" by Nicolas Lahovary. Out of print