Monday, October 30, 2006

we're all Basques

Apparently Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings only represent about 5% of the British population anywhere in the British Isles; the highest concentration of Anglo-Saxons is in Norfolk, where it's about 15%. The rest of us are in fact related to the Basques; both Britons and Basques are largely descended from the first hunter-gatherers to settle in the area after the ice retreated, who would have spoken a language rather like Basque. And, even weirder, we may have been speaking a Germanic dialect before the arrival of the Romans, and they reckon modern English is directly descended from this language. That is weird. The only thing I don't understand is, when did we change from a Basque-type language to the Germanic fore-runner of English? Presumably as a result of cultural interchange with the Belgae. Well, in response to people who are fiercely "Celtic" and accuse the English of being Saxon interlopers, I've always said that I am a pre-Celtic indigene, and that the Celts were invaders too. But, as always, the picture is far more complex than was previously thought, and there were not waves of invasions and massacres. The new understanding of all this is supported by genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA and the male Y chromosome, and by the classical writers (Tacitus, Herodotus etc).

Eup lagunak. Kaixo aspaldiko! Zer Moduz?

2 comments:

Joe said...

And in the case of Fran N Furter, he is wearing a basque :-)

Colin said...

Hello there Nemeton.

Pleased to see I'm not the only one who's fascinated by the Basque connection.
Are you going to translate those few words of Basque for us ?
Re the switch from early Basque to pre-Roman Germanic: it's perhaps not surprising when you consider that the Normans arrived in France from Scandinavia in about the 8th century, yet were Middle French speakers by the time of the Norman invasion. Some folk just find it easier to "go native" I guess, when living in a foreign country.