chapter  3
Basque and the Reconstruction of Isolated Languages
ByJoseba A. Lakarra
Pages 41

The classification and comparison of languages is not the ultimate goal of diachronic linguists. Their main task is to describe and explain the development of languages or families studied in their different phases. The prehistory of the language - a period lacking any direct or indirect information - ends at the beginning of the Common Era, thanks to the Aquitanian inscriptions, which contain some 300 to 400 anthroponyms and theonyms. The historical period of the Basque language is usually said to begin with the publication of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae by Bernard Etxepare, even though there are a couple of 11th-century glosses and the odd poetic fragment or letters dating from before 1500. The Basque language has been the object of many attempts to link it genetically to languages nearby and distant in both space and time. Latin-Romance loanwords offered the surest support in contrast to what happens with the inherited lexicon.