In this review article we evaluate Theo Vennemann's provocative theories on the role of Afroasiatic and Vasconic (e.g. Basque) languages in the pre-historic development of Indo-European languages in Europe as presented in the volume Europa Vasconica-Europa Semitica, a collection of 27 of Vennemann's essays. First, Vennemann argues that after the last ice age most of Central and Western Europe was inhabited by speakers of Vasconic languages, the only survivor of which is Basque. These speakers formed a substrate to the later-arriving Indo-Europeans. The primary evidence for the presence of Vasconic throughout much of Europe is drawn from the Old European hydronyms originally identified by Hans Krahe as Indo-European and reanalyzed by Vennemann as Vasconic. Second, Vennemann maintains that Afroasiatic speakers colonized coastal regions of Western and Northern Europe beginning in the fifth millennium BCE. According to his theory, these speakers formed a superstrate or adstrate in Northern Europe and had a profound impact on the lexical and structural development of Germanic. In the British Isles the language of these colonizers, which Vennemann calls "Semitidic" (also "Atlantic"), had a strong substratal influence on the structural development of Insular Celtic. In this essay we examine the evidence for and against Vennemann's theories and his methodology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language