The Basque word for their language is Euskara or Euskera, earlier Heuskara. The first part of this word is the Togo R. word for “Akpafu”, Likpe be-fu “Akpafu”, Bowili o-vu-ne “Akpafumann”, Santrokofi o-fu “Akpafumann”, Akpafu ka-wu, ka-‘u “Akpafu”. The early initial Basque h is from k, as can be seen from ka-wu, ka’u. The a has changed to e in this lexeme. The consonant between e and u has been lost. Basque lacks the semivowel w, which drops out here in Akpafu ka’u. See Lafon (1960 : 92) for confirmation from placenames etc.: Ausci, Aoiz, Auch.
The second part of the word, ka or ke is a word for “speak”, Niger-Congo gue “voice, language”, Ewe, Ga gbe “voice”, Agni guere “language, speech”, Yoruba i-gbe “loud cry”, Gbari e-gwe, e-gbe “mouth”. The e is for original a in this word. Niger-Congo e is secondary. Compare Niger-Congo ka, ke, k’e “to speak”, which is related. The final sylable -ra is the Niger-Congo article. No clearer proof could be found that the Basques were originally the Akpafu!
Thus says mr. GJK Campbell-Dunn “M.A. (NZ), M.A. (Camb.) Ph.D.” in a most interesting document titled “Basque as Niger-Congo“. (Just to remind you, Akpafu is another name for Siwu, the language I’ve been doing fieldwork on over the last three years.) I mentioned this story over a year ago in the comments of an excellent post over at Glossographia titled Debunking and de-Basque-ing, but I never got around to posting about it here. In his post, Stephen Chrisomalis notes that “There is probably no culture or language that has attracted more pseudoscientific attention than Basque.”
I’m not intent on debunking Campbell-Dunn’s story here; I think the quotation above speaks for itself just fine.1 But I do want to draw attention to the irony of this particular case. There you are, author of such groundbreaking works as The African Origins of Classical Civilisation, Maori: The African Evidence, and Who were the Minoans?: an African answer. The natural next step in your illustrious career is to solve the Basque enigma once and for all. Since the general thrust of your work is to link everything to Africa one way or another, you set out to discover that Basque is in fact a Niger-Congo language. A look at the rich lexical material in Westermann (1927) provides ample inspiration. Let’s pick one of the Togo Remnant Languages, you think — after all, Basque is sort of remnant too. Akpafu. Euskara. Hey, why not. Let’s just see what we can do… no-one’s going to notice, right?
Well, I noticed. And I just want to say it loud and clear: Graham Campbell-Dunn’s work is crackpot science. Don’t believe it; don’t even read it. Siwu and Euskara are fascinating languages that deserve of serious research. But they are most certainly not related. Although… come closer, I have to tell you a secret…
[spoiler show=”show secret” hide=”hide secret”]Both Basque and Siwu have lots of ideophones! (See Ibarretxe-Antuñano 2006.) Sssshhhh, don’t tell mister GJK Campbell-Dunn!
- Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Iraide. 2006. Sound Symbolism and Motion in Basque. Lincom Europa.
- Westermann, Diedrich. 1927. Die Westlichen Sudansprachen Und Ihre Beziehungen Zum Bantu. Berlin: In kommission bei W. de Gruyter & co.
- See the comments below for some of the problems in the reasoning. ↩