BASQUE AND CAUCASIAN: A SURVEY OF THE METHODS USED IN ESTABLISHING ANCIENT GENETIC AFFILIATIONS
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe author compiled linguistic evidence related to the hypothesis that Basque and the Caucasian languages are phylogenetically related. Before presentation of this evidence, a discussion of the major methods employed in establishing ancient genetic relationships is included. The comparative method, the lexicostatistical method, and the typological method are studied in some detail. After the treatment of the techniques most frequently employed by linguists in comparative studies, the facts pertaining to the hypothesis that Basque and Caucasian are genetically related are presented. The work of those linguists interested in this topic is reviewed and discussed under the methodological headings introduced earlier. For example, the contributions of Lafon and Bouda are listed under the comparative method; the work of Tovar is considered under the lexicostatistical method; and the research of de Rijk and Tovar is included under the typological method. The evidence gathered from the application of these methods is inconclusive. The work done within the framework of the comparative method has gone as far as postulating some sound correspondences between Basque and Caucasian which have not yet been properly accounted for. The lexicostatistical studies do not show a high percentage of cognates, but this is to be expected due to the time depth of the alleged genetic relationship. The typological research does not conflict with the hypothesis of genetic affiliation, but again, is insufficient proof of the proposed phylogeny. The term "Caucasian languages," as used in this study, is defined, and is accompanied by a listing of these languages and a map showing where they are spoken. There is also a brief linguistic description of these languages. Aspects of the Basque language are described, and a map plus a listing of the dialects is included. Attempts at establishing affiliations between Basque and languages or language families other than Caucasian are mentioned. One chapter is devoted exclusively to non-linguistic factors, examining at length the very unusual blood-type distribution of the Basques. This is then compared with the distributions found among the Caucasian peoples. In the conclusion the author attempts to weigh the case for a Basque-Caucasian relationship in view of the data presented throughout the study. It appears that the evidence is suggestive of a Basque-Caucasian genetic affiliation, but there is a need for firmer proof to be presented before the hypothesis can be referred to as a fact.
Degree ProgramGraduate College