A Basque in Boise

Has the origin of Basque language finally been discovered?

According to an article published in a Basque newspaper on Thursday, linguist Jaime Martín thinks so. After twelve years of research, he has concluded that Basque comes from Dogon, a language spoken in Mali. He has found words in Basque made up of two terms in Dogon, such as ‘senide’ (brother), which is ‘sani de” in the African language. However, his findings have already found opposition. During an interview with Faktoria’s radio program in Euskadi Irratia, Euskaltzaindia’s Secretary Xabier Kintana criticized Martín “lack of methodology” and said “he couldn’t make head or tails” of the findings .

A linguistic study carried out by professor Jaime Martín states that Basque comes from Dogon, a language spoken in Mali. He compared 2,274 words between both languages and found similarities in 70% of them.

Mali residentsMartín, a Romanic Philology major and Language and Literature tenured professor for forty years at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid, devoted twelve years to comparing Basque and Dogon, linguistic structure as well as vocabulary.

His findings, summarized in the study “An enigma untangled: the origin of Basque”, is that the Basque language originated from Dogon – nowadays spoken by some 300,000 people in the sub-Saharan country located between Algeria and Mauritania.

According to him, his “affection and sympathy for Basque people dates back a long time”. “As a philologist, I was curious about Basque”, he said.

A few years ago, he read a thesis about Dogon by French author Geneviève Calame-Griaule, daughter  of Marcel Griaule, the most renowned expert on this nation. It was then that he noticed “from the very first words” that there were “similitudes between both languages in form and meaning.”

He decided to research applying scientific criteria, because the resemblance “couldn’t be coincidence”. For that, he compared the linguistic structure and vocabulary.

On linguistic structures, Dogon and Basque concur in sentence placement order, with the subject at the beginning, the verb at the end – which is the biggest difference from Romance languages – and the direct object in the middle. Also, demonstratives (this, that) go after the verb, as opposed to Latin and Spanish, where it goes before. “I was surprised”, he confesses. They differ in that Basque maintains declinations while Dogon does not have them.

As far as vocabulary goes, he compared 2,274 from both languages and found 1,633 similar pair, which represents 70% of the total.

According to the author, comparative linguistics from a %50 of similarity one can talk about a relationship between two languages.


Ten examples of almost identical words: bede/bide (path in Dogon and Basque, respectively); soro/soro (agricultural land); beri/bero (hot); gara/garai (high); bana/banandu (to separate); gogoro/gogortu (to hold on); kwiye/kuia (pumpkin); pipilu/pipil (bud); togi/toki (place); kose/gose (hunger).

He also found Basque words made up of two Dogon terms, such as “senide” (brother), which is “sani de” in Dogon. Furthermore, he noticed that most of the words were older in Dogon that in Basque. All that has taken him to the conclusion that the Basque language originates from Dogon.

According to his theory, desertification of ub-Saharan Africa forced the people that lived there to emigrate to the Iberian Peninsula and the mediterranean basin, and thus the expansion of the terms.

Relationship with Africa

Therefore, according to this professor, the Basque language, which has been the subject of multiple theories about his origin, none of them conclusive, would have an African origin.

He is not the first comparing Basque with other languages; as Martin points out, Koldo Mitxelena – the most famous Basque linguist – denied the correlation between Basque with African languages.

Another well-known linguist, Antonio Tovar, carried out a comparative study among Basque, Berber, Copto and Egyptian and three other caucasian languages.

Tovar only found up to 7% of similitude with Berber, very little, but pointed out how similar Basque sentence structure was to other languages.

Jaime Martín contacted the Basque language awareness service at the University of the Basque Country and Auñamendi publishing house to present his work, but was unsuccessful. “It hurts me to say they didn’t get back to me”.

Now, he plans to get in touch with Euskaltzaindia or interested philologists because Martín claims he tried to carry out a rigorous linguistic investigation, with no preconceptions, and that he “has no problem” corroborating it.

As always, I apologize for any errors in translation that I might have made.

Thanks for passing by: ↓

Steven Roosevelt gülay orbey Russell

17 thoughts on “Has the origin of Basque language finally been discovered?

  1. Steven Roosevelt

    Doubt it. Dogons have a characteristic hemoglobin c. Quick search turns up nothing about this variant amongst Basques.

  2. Michel HACALA

    How can you figure out that Dogan is older than Basque when we don’t know the origins of the Basques. It could be the opposite the Dogan learnt from the Basques. The Basque were and are still great travellers world wide.

  3. Qiran

    No. You have to demonstrate *regular* sound correspondences, not just some words that *look* similar on the surface. Because real cognates from that long ago probably don’t look similar at all. The near identical words are especially suspicious.

    Read this:


  4. Victoria

    @Michel HACALA
    He probably figured that because Africa is the origin of a specific type of human and it makes a lot more sense to migrate North into Spain from Africa than it does to cross barren ice sheets West into Spain from Asia. It’s a theory, at least it’s something. The original Basque are called Solutreans and they migrated into the Iberian Peninsula because the rest of Europe/Asia was covered in ice, they arrived around 22-30,000BP in the evidence we’ve found thus far. (source: me, archaeologist and Basque)

  5. Figueroa

    The idea is absurd: A modern language can not derive from another modern language; the only thing such a study could establish is that those languages share a common ancestry, but that doesn’t establish one as the original from which the other arises and much less does it establish a place of origin, since people migrate. These particular study seems quite fraudulent.

  6. Ireneusz

    Please look at the books written by Professor Benon Zbigniew Szałek. He discovered the origin of the Basque language and connected it with Tamil, Egyptian, Japanese, Hungarian, Etruscan and Sumerian. His books are full of examples of sentences and words in all these languages which 4000 years ago constituted one language.

  7. Ireneusz

    Szałek B Zb., Basque, Georgian and other languages in the light of heuristics and cryptology, Zapol, Szczecin 2009.

  8. Ireneusz

    ——, The Indus Valley (Mohenjo Daro, Harappa, Dholavira), Kabul and Eastern Island (Rongorongo) inscriptions in the light of heuristics and cryptology, Zapol, Szczecin 2012.

  9. Ireneusz

    Linguistic evidence for a prehistoric Eurasian empire of ‘3 races and 1 language’, Journal of the Oriental Institute, 1998, 3-4.
    ——,The Sumerian Problem in the Light of Heuristics, Zapol, Szczecin 2002.
    ——,The Etruscan Problem in the Light of Heuristics, Zapol,Szczecin 2003.
    ——,Lycian, Lydian and Other Languages in the Light of Heuristics and Cryptology, Zapol,Szczecin 2006.
    ——,Sumerian, Egyptian, Coptic, Olmec, Mayan and Related Problems in the Light of Heuristics and Cryptology, Zapol, Szczecin 2010.
    ——,The Egyptian, Sumerian, Dravidian and Elamite Languages in the Light of Heuristics and Cryptology, Zapol, Szczecin 2011

  10. Tadeusz

    @Steven Roosevelt

    Similarity of this two languages can be result of p.ex. ancient culture influence or osmosis despite different origin of the nations. This is absolutely normal – we can find a lot of examples in whole world. Then mentioned “hemoglobin c” is no matter.

  11. Tadeusz


    “A modern language can not derive from another modern language; the only thing such a study could establish is that those languages share a common ancestry” – that’s right I suppose but SIMILARITY of this 2 languages is by my opinion undisputed because of this mentioned 70 %. And there are rather BASIC & ANCIENT words (hunger, place, high etc.), not very sophisticated.
    It will be worse if we’ll compare IT vocabulary and we’ll try to prove relationship 🙂 because IT words are probably the same in all CONTEMPORARY languages (despite french, ha ha …)

  12. Aida

    I think that Martin has good point. People were migrating all over the planet 8,000-10,000 years ago. When something is new the establishment is always conservative. We, as a world people come from Africa anyway. He can’t have made up those vocabulary comparisons, that are so easy to check.

  13. gülay orbey

    İt could be. Because todays languages are just mıxtures. İn the Ice age some people may have been come from Africa and leave their language. There is no relation between the race and the language.

  14. gülay orbey

    Some people migrates and leave their language. Like İndo- Europeans which I believe were The Scythians. Therefore The European people didnt came from somewhere else. But Scythians or SAKAs came and left their language. İn Greece The Persians came and left their language. (before that The Phoenicians came and left the language. and all of that languages were mixed up.
    I dont know why the linguists .are making such fuss about this.The real Europeans spoke Finnish or Estonian before the İndo-European . May be those languages went toward the Asia.who knows?

  15. Jeremy

    It is very easy, if you are willing to take other historical events as an option for humanity. Like pre ancient civilizations, like a pre flood civilization. Talking about: old buildings whcihc cannot exist due to our thought general history. Im talking about, Baalbek, gizeh, Yonaguni, Easter Island, Puma Punku, etc etc.. There a many gaps in our history of mankind, but we are all learning that ancient people were stupid, pre ancients were cavemen, stupid neanderthal with clubs and arrows.. well guess what, I think we have to rewrite our history of mankind. The bible and many other religious books, write it down as fairytale style.. anyways, there are too many leftovers which survived the rough hiostory of mankind.. there they are.. looking at us, but we have no clue. (well the mainstream science in fact) if you discuss it, you become a fantast, a pseudo scientist, etc.. Many survived old stories, all over the planet, from different regions all over the globe, are talking about some flood, or some major disaster and the destruction of a highly evolved civilization (or more)… the Sumerian language has its origin from some pre flooded civ..

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