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Basque and Proto-Basque

Language-Internal and Typological Approaches to Linguistic Reconstruction

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Mikel Martinez Areta

This volume is an attempt to expound the current state of research into the past of the Basque language. This research has experienced two kinds of advance in recent years. First, more written records have been discovered, and the ones that we already knew have been more deeply studied. Second, since the 70s cross-linguistic typology has made huge progress in our knowledge of linguistic universals and grammaticalization paths. The purpose of this volume is precisely to provide an outline, comprehensible for Bascologists and diachronic typologists alike, of how these two aspects can help us to reconstruct, within the limits permitted by the principles of diachronic research, the main linguistic features of Common Basque (ca. 5th-6th cc. AD), Proto-Basque (ca. 3rd-1st cc. BC), and Pre-Proto-Basque.

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2. Basque Dialects

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Mikel Martínez-Areta (University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU) 2.1. Introduction* This chapter has two main purposes. First (Section §2.2), I will briefly describe the intelligibility between contemporary Basque dialects, which ones these are —or at least the main dialectal areas—, and how many Basque dialects there are and have been in the historical period. The latter question is rather complex, and although it has been discussed for decades and even centuries, here it will be addressed only along very general lines. Secondly (Section §2.3), I will discuss how and when Basque dialects may have arisen out of a common language, which dialects were the earliest to branch off from the common trunk, and which dialects are historically closer —in other words, which dialectal nets have been denser or more sparse— as a result of that branching process. This issue has at- tracted less attention over most of the history of Bascology, but, in recent years, the questions posed by Michelena (1987 [1981a]) have given rise to an unprece- dented interest in it. 2.2. The Basque dialects today and in the historical past 2.2.1. How different are Basque dialects? Differences between Basque dialects are not great. The phonological system, the structure of the grammar and the nuclear lexicon are basically the same, or at * This chapter has been written within the framework of three research projects: 1) The Research Project “Monumenta Linguae Vasconum III-IV: historia, crítica y edición de textos vascos” [= FFI 2008-04516, FFI2012-37696], led by Joseba Lakarra...

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