Aquitanian language

Aquitanian language

states=France, Spain
region=West of the Pyrenees
extinct=by the Early Middle Ages
(except in the Northern Basque Country)
(together a language isolate)
The Aquitanian language was spoken in ancient Aquitaine (approximately between the Pyrenees and the Garonne, the region later known as Gascony) before the Roman conquest and, probably much later, until the Early Middle Ages.

Archaeological, toponymical and historical evidence strongly suggest that it was a dialect or group of dialects of the Basque language. The most important of this is a series of votive and funerary texts in Latin which contain about four hundred personal names and seventy names of gods.


Aquitanian and Basque languages are most commonly considered nowadays to be a remnant of the Paleolithic languages spoken in Western Europe before the arrival of Neolithic colonists (5th millennium BCE) and the Indo-Europeans (c. 1300 BCE, Celts most probably).

Aquitanian origins may possibly be traced more or less directly to the Chalcolithic culture of Artenac.

For other more marginal theories see .

Persons' names and Gods' names

Almost all the Aquitanian inscriptions had been found at the north of the Pyrenees in the territory that Greek and Roman sources assign to Aquitanians.


But some also had been found at the south of the Pyrenees in the territory that Greek and Roman sources assign to Vascones:


Relations with other languages

If the relationship with Basque is accepted, then the language would have no other known related languages. Many of the names on the inscriptions contain some elements that are without a doubt Basque:

The use of these words and elements in names in Medieval Basque is known well enough to conclude that there was a historical continuity between the pre-Roman era and the Middle Ages. However, some of the Aquitanian names have no modern equivalent, and it seems that during the pre-Roman and Roman era an ancient form of Basque was spoken in Aquitania.

Geographical extent

thumb|300px|In_red_the_pre-Indo-European tribes that might have spoken Aquitanian, Basque or other maybe related languages in the 1st century] Since ancient times there are clues that indicate the relation between Southwestern France and the Basques. During the Roman conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar, Aquitania was the territory between Garonne and the Pyrenees. Inhabited by a tribe of horsemen, Caesar said that they were very distinct in customs and language from the Celts of Gaul. During the Middle Ages, this territory was named "Gascony", a name derived from Vasconia, and cognate with the word "Basque".

There are many clues that indicate that Aquitanian was spoken in the Pyrenees, at least as far east as Val d'Aran. The placenames that end in -os, -osse, -ons, -ost and -oz are considered to be of Aquitanian origin.

To the south of the Pyrenees, the picture is less clear, as the historical record is scant. The Caristii, Varduli and Autrigones, who occupied the greater part of the region that is now the Western Basque Country have been claimed as either Basques or Celtic depending on who you read. Recent archaeological findings in Iruña-Veleia [ [ Gara: "Los textos hallados en Iruña-Veleia están escritos «inequívocamente» en euskara"] ] have confirmed that Basque language was spoken in the area though.

Cantabrians are also mentioned as relatives of Aquitanians, as they sent troops to fight on their side against the Romans.

The Vascones, who occupied modern Navarra are usually identified with the Basques ("Vascos" in Spanish), their name being one of the most important proofs. In 1960, a stele with Aquitanian names was found in Lerga, which could reinforce the idea that Basques and Aquitanians were related.

See also

*Gallia Aquitania
*Duchy of Vasconia
*Basque people
*Northern Basque Country
*Vasconic languages
*Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula

Further reading

* Ballester, Xaverio (2001): «La adfinitas de las lenguas aquitana e ibérica», "Palaeohispanica" 1, pp. 21-33.
* Gorrochategui, Joaquín (1984): "Onomástica indígena de Aquitania", Bilbao.
* Gorrochategui, Joaquín (1993): «La onomastica aquitana y su relación con la ibérica», "Lengua y Cultura en la Hispania Preromana", pp. 609-634.
* Gorrochategui, Joaquín (1995): «The Basque Language and Its Neighbors in Antiquity», "Towards a History of the Basque Language", pp. 31-63.
* Hoz, Javier de (1995): «El poblamiento antiguo de los Pirineos desde el punto de vista lingüístico», "Muntanyes i Població. El passat dels Pirineus des d'una perspectiva multidisciplinària", pp. 271-297.
* Michelena, Luís (1954): «De onomástica aquitana», "Pirineos" 10, pp. 409-458.
* Núñez, Luis (2003): [ "El Euskera arcaico. Extensión y parentescos"] ,Tafalla.
* Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús (2002): «La hipótesis del vascoiberismo desde el punto de vista de la epigrafía íbera», "Fontes Linguae Vasconum" 90, pp. 197-219.
* Trask, L.R. (1995): «Origin and relatives of the Basque Language: Review of the evidence», "Towards a History of the Basque Language", pp. 65-99.
* Trask, L.R. (1997): "The History of Basque", London/New York ISBN 0-415-13116-2 []
* Velaza, Javier (1995): «Epigrafía y dominios lingüísticos en territorio de los vascones», "Roma y el nacimiento de la cultura epigráfica en occidente", pp. 209-218.

External links

* [ Aquitanian Language] by Jesús Rodríguez Ramos


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