Re: Do Basque farm animal names resemble Indo-European ones?

maguirre (
Fri, 08 Nov 1996 08:57:01 +0100

Jonathan Adams wrote:
> Does anyone know if the Basque names for farm animals, crops and basic farm
> implements seem to resemble Indo-European ones? The similarity of the various
> Indo-European words for 'sheep', for example, is used to suggest that
> Indo-European speakers were farmers and herders, and that they moved into
> Europe replacing hunter-gatherer populations or cultures who spoke other
> language groups (such as the ancestor of Basque). But if indeed the ancestral
> Basque-speakers were hunter-gatherers when the Indo-Europeans first got to
> them, they must have learnt farming and herding from the new arrivals. So
> wouldn't we expect them to have picked up some basic words for animals and
> crops from the Indo-Europeans? Is there any evidence that this occurred? If
> not, does that imply that in fact the Basque-speakers were the early neolithics
> and that the Indo-European languages are more recent arrivals in Europe?

Her below my comments to text above

The situation is a little bit more complicated than that. There is the
following possibilities:

In the evolution of the population of Europe we have several

A community of hunter-gatherers lerns agriculture -or more probably
husbandry- and increases is number enough not to be numerically
submerged by the first wave of vawe of agriculturalist.This people could
be represented by the Basques, but also by the Iberians and other non
Indo-Europena speakers of old Europe

A community of agriculturalist is overtaken by a second one. This is the
Gimbutas-Mallory theory of the peaceful old european agriculturalists
taken over by the more agresive Indoerupean

There is no second wave and the lingusitic -and genetics- of Europe is
the result of the first wave of agriculturialist that was already
carrying Indoeuropena with them.

The linguistic of the Iberian peninsula could be useful to differentiate
between alternative theories above.

Basque is not Indoeuropean its origin could be:

Latecomer with some invader wave. Almost impossible

The relast remain of the pre-Indoeuropean agriculturalist (supporting

The last remain of european hunter-gatherers that managed to surive the
arrival of agriculturalist (does support nor Gimbutas, neither Mallory)

If 2) were true Iberian and Basque should be related. This appears not
to be the case

The 3) should be the most probably. This is also supported by genetic
studies (see Cavalli-Sforza)

Nevertheless I guess that basque could provide some clue on the origin
on the first agriculturalist and it should allow to discriminate between
Gimbutas and Mallory. This will require

Make -as you said- a list of basque words with neolithic terms (plants,
animals, metals and
cultural items).

Clean the list to eliminate modern contamination by Indoeuropean terms

Check the remainder against:

-Indoeuropean in general

-Afroasiatic (mainly berber)

-Oh God protect us! non Indoeuropean languages (Iberian Etruscan, Lineal
A, Luwita, Pelasgan, you name it). If something comes out of it perhaps
we have found the old European of Gimbutas.

This is a very complicated and long tasks and probably it will arrive
nowhere but it could be rewarding.

BTW I have enjoy very much your WWW page on paleoecology I have
downloaded and printed the situation in Europe 18000 years ago. I have
printed on it the following text: See impact of faillure of conveyor
belt! Invest on global ocean circulation research!