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The basque language
Basque, hedged around by European languages

The map of European languages has changed enormously over the centuries.  Throughout the continent, peoples speaking different languages have continually overlapped or displaced each other. Some 3,000 years ago, the Basque language was surrounded by non-Indo-European languages, the complete opposite of the situation today.

In the third millennium before Christ, shortly after the invention of the wheel, the nomads of the Euro-Asian steppe, having learnt to tame horses, began to move westwards. Slowly the linguistic landscape of the continent changed, particularly from 1000 BC onwards. After cornering or swamping previous languages, the Indo-European languages held sway over practically the whole of Europe.

In the classifications of the experts, the Basque language is not included in the group of languages spoken by the new arrivals. Linguists therefore single out Basque from other European languages. In its immediate vicinity at least, Basque has no links with any other language.

Two families of languages, the Uralic and the Indo-European, are to be found in Europe, but Basque is not genetically linked to either, lacking ties of family or origin.

Fecha de la última modificación: 10/12/2004