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The Relationship Between The Basque And Ainu
High Speed Plus ^ | 1996 | Edo Nyland

Posted on 06/25/2004 3:44:16 PM PDT by blam



The language of the Ainu bear-worshippers of Northern Japan has generally been considered a language-isolate, supposedly being unlike any other language on earth. A few researchers noticed a relationship with languages in south-east Asia, others saw similarity with the Ostiak and Uralic languages of northern Siberia. The Ainu look like Caucasian people, they have white skin, their hair is wavy and thick, their heads are mesocephalic (round) and a few have grey or blue eyes. However, their blood types are more like the Mongolian people, possibly through many millennia of intermixing. The Ainu are a semi-nomadic hunting and fishing tribe but also practice simple planting methods, which knowledge may have been acquired from the newcomers. The invading people, under their Yamato government, called them the Ezo, the unwanted, and forced the Ainu in fierce fighting to retreat north to the island of Hokkaido. The name Ezo likely is an abbreviation of the Basque word ezonartu (to disapprove of)


Archaeologists have determined that the Ainu have been living on many of Japan's islands, from Okinawa to Sakhalin, for 7,000 years and likely longer. Their Jomon pottery is found everywhere; it is characteristic although somewhat clumsy and can be dated from 5,000 B.C. until just before the Christian era. It is very attractive and is distinguished by the fantasy of its shapes with elegant and imaginative cord decorations. Some of the most striking finds were the clearly anthropomorphic clay and stone figurines resembling pregnant females with mask-like faces and protuberant eyes; very similar to those found in many other parts of the world, especially in Europe.

A number of stone circles have also been found, similar to those in Cornwall (England) and Senegal (North-West Africa). A few still have the slender upright stone in the center, also found in the British Isles and elsewhere in Atlantic Europe and N.W. Africa. Around 300 B.C., Mongolian type people moved in from Korea and aggressively forced the Ainu north onto the large island of Hokkaido where an estimated 17,000 of them are still living. Some 10 dialects have been recognized, such as those of Sakhalin, Hokkaido and the Kurils, but several are at the point of being lost for ever. In Hokkaido young Ainu are now making an effort to restore their ancient language and traditions.


There are many intriguing resemblances between the religious customs of the Ainu and the Shinto Japanese. The Ainu called their God Kami while the Japanese called him Kamisama. The Aleut and Eskimo word kammi means "ancient thing" or "at the beginning," one of a great many correlations between Ainu and Inuktitut. (The Eskimo people call themselves the Inuit; note the similarity between the names Inuk and Ainu). Bear worship is still part of the Ainu religion and is described in detail by Joseph Campbell in Primitive Mythology. This paleolithic bear-worship may date back as far as 200,000 years, to the days of the Neanderthal people. It appears to have been practiced world-wide; wherever the bear was not found (mainly in Africa), its place was taken by similar panther-worship.

Bear worship was not tolerated in those areas later dominated by the major religions, therefore it was only possible for anthropologists to study the religion in the peripheral areas of northern Europe and Siberia. This gave rise to the idea that the Ainu must have moved eastward through Siberia, even though the nearest people of their type are found almost 5,000 miles away. But bear-worship has also been reported from Indonesia where languages similar to the Ainu language are still spoken (to be discussed with the Indonesian language). Could it be that the Ainu were part of the mass migration of "Caucasian" type Sea Peoples who fled the burning Sahara and, among others, became the "Caucasian" looking Polynesians and Maories? The following language comparison for the Ainu seems to indicate that this was the case.


In books about Japan it is often remarked that many of the names of Japan's geographical features were taken over from the Ainu. For instance the many names beginning or ending with ama (Goddess) are all thought to be of Ainu origin. In 1994 the newly married prince and princess of Japan travelled to the cave of the Goddess Amaterasu to ask her blessings for their marriage. The name Amaterasu is agglutinated from ama-atera-asu, ama (Goddess) atera (to come out, to appear) asturu (blessings flow): Blessings flow when the Goddess appears. This name is made up of perfect Basque! Other well-known names were similarly assembled such as Hokkaido: oka-aidu: oka (big meal) aiduru (looking foreward to): Looking forward to a big meal; and Fujiyama, fa-uji-ama: fa (happy) uju (cry of joy) ama (Goddess): "A happy cry of joy for the Goddess" is uttered by everyone who reaches the top of the holy mountain, just like is still being heard on many other mountains of the world (e.g . at Croag Patrick in Ireland, on the last Sunday of July). The Basques even have a word for this yodel cry for the Goddess, they call it the irrintzi.

The name Amaterasu is made up with the vowel-interlocking Ogam formula, which was surprising to me because in the Ainu language itself there is not a hint of this agglutinating formula. I then searched for more Japanese names and words which were assembled with the vowel-interlocking Ogam formula and found many such as Kamikaze and Samurai. The surprise which came from this comparison was that those words which showed vowel-interlocking were usually associated with fighting and male domination. This appeared to be true all over the Pacific, including Peru and Mexico. Could this mean that there were two major migrations, the first one many millennia ago from Mesopotamia which brought the peaceful people of the Goddess to the Pacific and a much later one, missionary based, bringing aggressive male domination and the language-distorting vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV) formula to these same areas?

None of the Ainu words were exactly the same as in Basque, but many were extremely close such as ikoro and koro (money), kokor and gogor (to scold), tasum and eritasun (illness), iska and xiska (to steal). A surprise was the Ainu word nok (testicle) which is much like the Basque word noka (familiarity with women). In English slang the same word is used in "to knock up" meaning "to cause a woman to become pregnant." In Indonesian nok means "unmarried young woman," while dénok means "slender, elegant woman." In Dutch slang the word is slightly altered to neuk (sexual intercourse). There is little doubt that the word goes way back to the Neolithic or even Paleolithic. From the following comparisons it seems clear to me that Ainu and Basque are genetically related. In comparing Ainu with Dravidian, I did not find such a relationship, although Dravidian itself is obviously also related to Basque. Two separate branches of the same tree?

The following words were taken from: An Ainu Dialect Dictionary edited by Shiro Hattori and (thank goodness) printed mostly in Latin characters. This work provided a wealth of excellent material for my comparison. Don't forget that the Basque "s" is pronounced as a soft "sh" and that our sharp "sh" is written as "x" in Basque. (The page column shows the word number/page number)

(There is a whole column of word comparsions listed here. Please click on the site to difficult to html, thanks)

It is easy to find hundreds more like the ones above, all it takes is time, but I can see little reason for doing that. To me this comparison is quite convincing: the Ainu language is genetically related to the universal language, Saharan/Basque; the similarities are just too many to be accidental. Considering that the Ainu have probably been separated from the west for some 7,000 years, if not 8,000, it is not surprising that the language has drifted away from the neolithic language as it had developed in the Sahara. The fact that so many Ainu words are still clearly recognizable when compared to modern Basque words, this is nothing short of amazing and tells us that the ancient oral traditions had been faithfully maintained since they left the Sahara or Mesopotamia. The Ainu had no writing system but memorized their history and legends as yukar, which means that the poetry and epics were performed by professional memorymen with elaborate display and ritual. Similarly, in the west, the universal language was maintained by regular meetings, probably at the central shrine on Malta, where the bertsolari (professional memorymen) of all the tribes and regions met to re-inforce and standardize their language and knowledge.

The Pacific sea peoples settled on hundreds of islands, they scattered over the entire endless Pacific, and it must be assumed that the single unifying educational exchange practiced in the Mediterranean was impossible to repeat. Similar local meeting-islands must have been designated in the Marianas, Polynesia, Melanesia, Indonesia, New Zealand etc. but regular contact with the far-away Ainu could hardly have been maintained. Consequently the formerly universal language drifted and diversified into what we know today as the many languages of the Pacific islands, including those of the Kurils and Aleutians. Several of the Pacific languages, such as Japanese and Hawaian, do not have the "r". It has been theorized that these languages have lost this letter over the centuries.

Another suggestion was that the original "Caucasians" coming from Africa or Mesopotamia, some 7,000 years ago, did not know this letter. However, it appears that the Ainu were the first to arrive in the Pacific and they have the "r". The lost "r" theory may well be correct. It is interesting to note that the name Ainu possibly comes from ain'u, an abbreviation of ainbanatu (to distribute, to scatter all over). Another origin could be the Basque word aienatu (the disappeared, departed).These astute navigators of the Pacific must also have discovered the west coast of North America at a very early date. The island-chain of the Aleutians was a ready-made pathway to Alaska, which must have been reached well before 6,000 B.C., possibly before the east coast of North America was spotted. It may have been about the same time that the Eskimos started to spread east into Arctic Canada and Greenland, bringing along a pidgin-type, Ainu-related, Basque to Labrador and Greenland, but I will discuss this with the Eskimo language.


There are indications that the Ainu sailed regularly to Alaska to obtain reindeer hides from the Aleuts established there, which they needed for their sails, exactly the same as was done by the Basques, the Irish and Scots who went to Arctic Norway for their reindeer-leather sails (Mt. Komsa people). The Ainu must have been great long-distance sea-farers to keep up contact with their home-base which may have been in Mesopotamia. All over the Pacific this incredible sailing tradition waned fast when the social structure changed after the coming of European or Asiatic domination. Today the Ainu still sail the ocean but mostly on fishing trips. The complex navigational techniques, acquired over millennia had been the property of a few special families and were never popular wisdom. They are now lost. The astonishing amount of astronomical knowledge which the members of such navigator families had to memorize was taught them at a very young age and was built up during a lifetime on the ocean. To these highly skilled and proud people the Pacific was no hostile place, the ocean was their life and joy, and an indispensible part of their culture. Only in the Carolines the ancient spirit, some of the secret navigational techniques and much astronomical wisdom has been maintained to this day. All this is described in a wonderful book called: We, the Navigators by David Lewis.

The people who sailed the Pacific without the aid of instruments have recently been called the "Nomads of the Wind", a most appropriate title for these courageous and resourceful people. The Ainu appeared to have been the avant garde of the Pacific migration. The desertification of the Sahara had probably forced these tribes to flee for their lives. It was then that the name "Africa" was coined: af.-.ri-ika, afa-ari-ika: afa (happy) arinari eman (to escape) ikara (terror): Happy to have escaped the terror. Some of these displaced tribes sailed around Asia and started to populate the nearest Pacific islands, all of them speaking the same universal language and bringing along the same religion.

While looking in more detail at the names in the Pacific, I found that many of the Pacific islands had names which could be translated with the Basque dictionary such as: "Tahiti", from tahi-iti, tahiu (appearance) iti (ox): "Resembles an ox" the sharp pointed mountains indeed resemble ox horns. Or: "Rapa Nui" (Easter Island), arra-apa ' nui, erraldoi (giant) aparta (far, far away), nui (enormous, in Hawaiian): "Enormous giants, far, far away". Or: "Hawaii", ha'u-ahi: ha'u (this one) ahigarri (exhausting): This one is exhausting! It still is. Or: "Papua", apapua (living in poverty); stone age people don't own much, they don't pollute and they live as part of nature. One tantalizing hint comes from Peru where the patriarchal Incas established a complex civilization, complete with highly evolved Sumerian-type irrigation. The Incas were living gods and the Basque word for "God" is ainkoa! More later about this.

TOPICS: Japan; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ainu; ancientnavigation; archaeology; basque; between; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; haidagwaii; helixmakemineadouble; history; multiregionalism; navigation; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; relationship
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To: blam

The biggest danger in social science is the allure of romantic wistfulness.

21 posted on 06/25/2004 9:14:52 PM PDT by Old Professer (Interests in common are commonly abused.)
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To: blam

Before or after the Super Bowl?

22 posted on 06/25/2004 9:16:18 PM PDT by Old Professer (Interests in common are commonly abused.)
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To: blam

Since you have an interest in archaeology, how do you go back and review posts you made years ago? Is there a shortcut, or do you just have to back up in the My Comments screen for hours?

23 posted on 06/25/2004 9:18:52 PM PDT by ovrtaxt ((David): It's such a fine line between stupid an'...(Derek): ...and clever.)
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To: Old Professer
'Coming of age in Samoa' comes to mind? Romantic wistfulness notwithstanding, she presented her twisted fantasies as truth.

Kind of like MIchael Moore.

24 posted on 06/25/2004 9:21:21 PM PDT by ovrtaxt ((David): It's such a fine line between stupid an'...(Derek): ...and clever.)
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To: Polybius; motife
Some think the Basque are an isolated remnant of Cro Magnon man in Europe. ~ motife

When mention that to my half-sister, whoser father has Basque roots, she is never amused. :-) ~ Polybius

Perhaps you should mention that the Cro-Magnon had bigger brains that modern Homo Sap...

25 posted on 06/25/2004 9:25:52 PM PDT by null and void (Time flys. My time crawls, like an insect, up and down the walls...)
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To: ovrtaxt
People of color will soon dominate in terms of sheer numbers and yet one sees no mass migration of people while many small accomodational moves are reflected in neighborhoods; the article here is operating from a premise that there is both a migration and an exile-as-motor-response to account for people quite geographically diverse over a considerable time in history.

It doesn't really make a lot of sense.

26 posted on 06/25/2004 9:31:47 PM PDT by Old Professer (Interests in common are commonly abused.)
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To: Old Professer
"It doesn't really make a lot of sense."

Sure it does if you add the component missing from this article, the end of the Ice Age.

The last big 'burp' of ice melt occurred rather suddenly about 8,000 years ago. Sundaland (around Indonesia), an area the size of present day India, goes underwater and everyone there has to find somewhere else to live.

Dr Stephen Oppenheimer covers this very well in his book East Of Eden as does Dr Robert Schoch in his book Voyages Of The Pyramid Builders. They both have excellent ideas that the first Sumerians came from Sundaland.

Everywhere in that peroid was flooding and people were migrating everywhere.

27 posted on 06/25/2004 9:57:22 PM PDT by blam
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To: ovrtaxt
Go here for the most recent articles. That's the best I can do.

Gods, Graves, Glyphs

I frequently bump into some of my years-old articles doing a search on other things. Also, there are some bookmarked on my profile page.

28 posted on 06/25/2004 10:04:34 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam


29 posted on 06/25/2004 10:13:11 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: blam

So the grounds closest to the stem percolated last?

30 posted on 06/25/2004 10:15:55 PM PDT by Old Professer (Interests in common are commonly abused.)
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To: blam
So your an archivist as well? Funny, once I've said something it's gone for whatever no matter how good it sounded at the time.

It ought be simple that types are traceable yet time is lumpy and all crusty on top mostly.

31 posted on 06/25/2004 10:20:03 PM PDT by Old Professer (Interests in common are commonly abused.)
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To: Old Professer
"So the grounds closest to the stem percolated last?"

I don't understand what you mean by that.(?)

32 posted on 06/25/2004 10:21:06 PM PDT by blam
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To: Old Professer
"So you're an archivist as well?"

Nope. Gods, Graves, Glyphs, was set-up by FReeper Ernest_at_the_Beach and it is managed and maintained by FReeper 'farmfriend', I just post'em.

33 posted on 06/25/2004 10:28:49 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam


34 posted on 06/25/2004 10:32:44 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (Many a law, many a commandment have I broken, but my word never.)
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To: blam


35 posted on 06/25/2004 10:42:48 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: blam
"...note the similarity between the names Inuk and Ainu"

Must be hallucinatin'. They're about as similar Gnu and butch.

36 posted on 06/25/2004 11:16:45 PM PDT by Rudder
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To: RightWhale
It seems Yankees can't make a simple vowel sound

One of the greatest complicators of vowels was Katherine Hepburn.

37 posted on 06/25/2004 11:28:08 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: blam; SunkenCiv

Hey Civ, have you heard of this Edo Nyland?

38 posted on 06/25/2004 11:30:58 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: blam

Merritt Ruhlen thinks so. He calls it the Dene-Caucasian family. Basque is believed to be distantly related to languages such as Chechen in the Caucasus. Ruhlen thinks those are related to some Siberian languages and to the Athapaskan Indian languages of the Far North and the Southwest (Navajo, Apache, and the Dene languages of Alaska.)

Some people have thought that Basque is directly descended from the languages spoken in Upper Paleolithic Europe, because the Basques are more directly descended from Cro-Magnon man than other Europeans, although the Celtic-speaking peoples are genetically close to the Basques (The origins of Celtic languages are pretty obscure, but it would seem that they originated in central or eastern Europe rather than Britain, Ireland, or Western France.)

Others tend to see languages as being related to gene markers carried by the original speakers (e.g. Spencer Wells) and dismiss the notion of related languages being associated with genetically very different peoples. Have you ever read Journey of Man? It's based on a PBS special that aired last fall, I think.

Wells thinks that Basque is part of a set of languages carried by the earliest farmers to migrate out of the Middle East. These, according to him, may include the languages of the Caucasus, Burushaski (a language spoken by Shiite Muslims in Pakistan), Sumerian, the Etruscan and Pelasgian languages spoken in the Mediterranean before the Greeks and Romans, and Iberian languages of Spain.

He correlates this distribution of languages with the frequency of a genetic marker called M172, which occurs most often in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean (Greece,Italy,and southern Balkans).

But the Basques have very low frequencies of M172; their marker is M173 (the Upper Paleolithic European marker). So there could be no connection, and Basque really is a relic of the languages spoken in Europe during the last Ice Age, and truly is a linguistic isolate.

OTOH, the Celtic languages are spoken by people who are genetically closer to the Basques than to the original Celtic speakers, so maybe the Basques adopted Basque from the first farmers to migrate into Spain, just like the Irish and Scots adopted Celtic from elites originating in continental Europe (probably in the early Bronze Age- remember the Amesbury archer?) who left little or no genetic trace in the extreme west of Europe.

Wells favors the Kurgan hypothesis (Gimbutas) for Indo-European origins, so he doesn't think IE languages correlated with the first farmers in Europe (why he thinks M172 is associated with a mostly extinct substratum of languages). Recent evidence (I'll post it when I find it) from using new methods to analyze language evolution supports the Wave of Advance model (Renfrew, Gamkrelidze-Ivanov that says first farmers = proto Indo-European speakers.

It's an open question; you can't talk about the origin of the Basques without touching on the origin of IE languages.

39 posted on 06/25/2004 11:44:14 PM PDT by monkeyman81
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To: SwedeCon

I agree. It is absurd. One could say there is a genetic relationship between Basque and Ainu, but not linguistic. Regarding the genetic relationship, it's fairly weak (Basques and Ainu are presumably genetically closer to each other, for example, than Basques are to people from southern India, or Ainu to Australian Aborigines). The relationship is this: Wells points to a common origin for Europeans and northern Asians/American Indians in Central Asia about 35,000 years ago (associated with a Y-chromosome lineage called M45). The Ainu might be a relic population of this ancestral group, as might the apparently extinct Paleo-American population to which the Kennewick and Spirit Cave men belonged. The Basques are a relic of the earliest European lineage to derive from the common Central Asian ancestor (the M173 lineage which I talked about in my earlier post.)

40 posted on 06/25/2004 11:57:19 PM PDT by monkeyman81
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