2015 №2 (19)

Back to the Table of Contents

Eduardo Blasco Ferrer
University of Cagliari
Cagliari, Italy

Substrata Residue, Linguistic Reconstruction, and Linking: Methodological Premises, and the Case History of Palaeo-Sardinian

Voprosy onomastiki (Problems of Onomastics), 2015, Issue 2, pp. 62–82 (in English)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2015.2.002

Received 27 January 2015

Abstract: This paper demonstrates that, within substratal research, prior to undertaking any comparative endeavour, it is necessary to conduct a thorough distributional analysis of the morphological regularities displayed by the language under consideration, so as to determine the phonological rules governing diachronic changes, which leads to establishing the typology of the substratal language. The application of this rigorous methodology to Palaeo-Sardinian toponymic material makes it possible to recognize the primitive agglutinative typology, and thereby to precise its relation to Palaeo-Basque. After having highlighted some flaws and weaknesses of prior reconstructions, the author first describes the benefits stemming from a systematic segmentation of nearly 1000 microtoponyms of Central Sardinia, which display clear morphological regularities, and restores the underlying phonological system, as well as some of the most distinctive evolutionary laws (e.g., it is argued that the structure of most reconstructed roots can be boiled down to a single syllable template CVC, as /d-u-r/, /d-o-n/; this helps to establish some phonetic laws, as /d/ > /l/ in dur > lur, don > loh, etc.). Finally, a detailed confrontation of Palaeo-Sardinian with reconstructed morphological and phonological systems of Palaeo-Basque evince a vast array of striking correspondances which are due, most probably, to the prehistoric split of Pre-Proto-Basque into Proto-Basque and Palaeo-Sardinian branches in the late Mesolithic / early Neolithic age. The paper provides a new Stammbaum model to account for this split.

Key words: Palaeo-Basque, Palaeo-Sardinian, substratal research, morphological analysis, distributional analysis, typological restoration, comparison and linking, Stammbaum


Agostiniani, L. (1993). La considerazione tipologica nello studio dell’etrusco [Typological Approach in the Study of Etruscan]. Incontri Linguistici, 16, 33–44.

Agostiniani, L. (2000). La lingua [Language]. In M. Torelli (Ed.), Gli Etruschi [Etruscans] (pp. 485–499). Milano: Bompiani.

Ballester, X. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. Romance Philology, 65, 54–64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1484/J.RPH.5.100536.

Ballester, X. (2014). Amavida. Una Introducción a la Arqueotoponimia [An Introduction to Archaeo-Toponomastics]. València: Tilde.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (1993). Tracce indoeuropee nella Sardegna nuragica? [Indo-European Traces in Nuragic Sardinia?]. Indogermanische Forschungen, 98, 177–185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/9783110243390.177.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2010a). Paleosardo. Le radici linguistiche della Sardegna neolitica [Palaeo-Sardinian. The Linguistic Origins of Neolithic Sardinia]. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2010b). Tipologia e ricostruzione del Paleosardo [Typology and Reconstruction of Palaeo-Sardinian]. Rivista Italiana di Onomastica, 16, 9–30.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2010c). Iberian ili and beles/meles, Basque iri and bele, Palaeosardinian ili and mele/nele. New horizons in substrata research. Archivio Glottologico Italiano, 85, 54–60.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2010d). Iberian Ordumeles, Palaeo-Sardinian Ortumele, Ortarani and Araunele. Cognitive Semantics and Substrata Research. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 38, 373–384.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2011a). A New Approach to the Mediterranean Substratum, with an Appendix of Palaeosardinian Toponyms. Romance Philology, 56, 43–85. http://dx.doi.org/10.1484/J.RPH.3.49

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2011b). Cognomi sardi e italiani e questioni di metodo nella ricerca (top)onomastica: Mele, Mela(s), Mula(s) e Miele, Ortu, Manno, Barisone e Salusi [Sardinian and Latin Cognomina and Methodological Problems of (Top)onomastic Research: Mele, Mela(s), Mula(s) and Miele, Ortu, Manno, Barisone and Salusi]. Rivista Italiana di Onomastica, 17, 35–54.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2011c). Methode gegen Zufall. Prinzipien und Erkenntnisse der Substrataforschung am Beispiel der Toponomastik im Mittelmeer [Method against Fortuity. Principles and Findings in Substratal Research (With Reference to the Mediterranean Toponymy)]. Indogermanische Forschungen, 116, 277–300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/9783110239485.271.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2012a). Cognomi paleosardi e questioni di metodo [Palaeo-Sardinian Cognomina and Methodological Problems]. Quaderni Bolotanesi, 38, 65–81.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2012b): Toponomastica e Ricostruzione morfologica. Paleobasco *doni (toki, logi) e Paleosardo doni, toni, (tòneri e Tonara), Tok-, Dog- e Lo(g)i [Toponomastics and Morphological Reconstruction. Palaeo-Basque *doni (toki, logi) and Palaeo-Sardinian doni, toni, (tòneri and Tonara), Tok-, Dog- e Lo(g)i]. Rivista Italiana di Onomastica, 18, 19–46.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2012c). Protovasco *hur-bar, vasco Ubar-, Uber-, Ibar-, Iber- y Paleosardo Úrbara, Úbera, Ibar- Íbera. Nueva hipótesis sobre (H)iberus e Iberia [Proto-Basque *hur-bar, Basque Ubar-, Uber-, Ibar-, Iber- and Palaeo-Sardinian Úrbara, Úbera, Ibar- Íbera. A New Hipothesis on (H)iberus and Iberia]. Estudios de Lenguas y Epigrafía Antiguas, 12, 47–83.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2012d). Le origini linguistiche della Sardegna [The Linguistic Origins of Sardinia]. Revista de Filoloxía Asturiana, 11/12, 175–220.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2012e). Sistema y Tipo en la Reconstrucción de Protolenguas [System and Type in the Recontruction of Proto-Languages]. In J. Martínez del Castillo (Ed.), Eugenio Coseriu (1921–2002) en los Comienzos del Siglo XXI [Eugenio Coseriu in the Early 21st Century] (pp. 209–221). Málaga: Universidad de Málaga.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2013). Paleosardo: un nuevo Stammbaum [Palaeo-Sardinian: A New Stammbaum]. Palaeohispanica, 13, 49–63.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2014a). Place-Names and Linguistic Reconstruction. The Case of Prehistoric Sardinia. In J. Tort i Donada & M. Montagut i Montagut (Eds.), Els noms en la vida quotidiana. Actes del XXIV Congrés Internacional d’ICOS sobre Ciències Onomàstiques [Names in Daily Life. Proceedings of the XXIV ICOS International Congress of Onomastic Sciences] (pp. 261–270). Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2014b). Palaeosardinian. In E. Blasco Ferrer, P. Francalacci, A. Nocentini & G. Tanda (Eds), Iberia e Sardegna. Legami linguistici, archeologici e genetici dal Mesolitico all’Età del Bronzo [Iberia and Sardinia. Linguistic, Archaeological and Genetic Links from Mesolithic to the Bronze Age] (pp. 7–34). Florence: Le Monnier University.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2015a). Paläosardisch und Paläobaskisch [Palaeo-Sardinian and Palaeo-Basque]. In R. Mailhammer, T. Vennemann, B. A. Nelsen (eds.), The Linguistic Roots of Europe. Origin and Development of European Languages (pp. 155–201). University of Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.

Blasco Ferrer, E. (2015b). Vascuence y Paleosardo, reconstrucción y comparación. Por una vascología autocentrada y ensimismada [Basque and Palaeo-Sardinian, Reconstruction and Comparison. Towards a Self-Centered and Self-Absorbed Bascology]. Estudios de Lenguas y Epigrafía Antiguas, 15, 50–60.

Coromines, J. (1990). Diccionari Etimològic i Complementari de la Llengua Catalana [An Etymological Dictionary of the Catalan Language] (Vol. 6). Barcelona: Curial.

Craddock, J. (1969). Latin Legacy versus Substratum Residue. The Unstressed “Derivational” Suffixes in the Romance Vernaculars of the Western Mediterranean. Berkeley: University of California Press.

de Hoz, J. (2010). Historia lingüística de la Península Ibérica en la Antigüedad. I. Preliminares y mundo meridional prerromano [The Linguistic History of the Iberian Peninsula. I. Preliminaries and Pre-Roman Meridional World]. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

de Hoz, J. (2011). Historia lingüística de la Península Ibérica en la Antigüedad. II. El mundo ibérico prerromano y la indoeuropeización [The Linguistic History of the Iberian Peninsula. II. Pre-Roman Iberian World and Indoeuropeization]. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

Elexpuru, J. M. (2011). Euskera y Paleosardo: ¿parentes cercanos? [Basque and Palaeo-Sardinian: Close Relatives?]. Diario de Noticias de Álava (March 1 2011), 5–6.

Elhaik, E., Tatarinova, T., Chebotarev, D., Piras, I. S., Calò, C. M, De Montis, A., Atzori, M. et al. (2014). Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins. Nature Communications, 5: 3513. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4513.

Facchetti, G. (2002). Appunti di morfologia etrusca [Notes on Etruscan Morphology]. Genève: Droz.

Facchetti, G. (2005). The Interpretation of Etruscan Texts and its Limits. The Journal of Indo-European Studies, 33 (3–4), 359–388.

Facchetti, G. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. Rivista Italiana di Onomastica, 17 (2), 340–350.

Fick, A. (1905). Vorgriechische Ortsnamen als Quelle für die Vorgeschichte Griechenlands [Pre-Greek Place-Names as a Source for the History of Greece]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Francalacci, P., Morelli, L., Angius A., Berutti, R., Reinier, F., Atzeni, R., Pilu, R. et al. (2013). Low-Pass DNA Sequencing of 1200 Sardinians Reconstructs European Y-Chromosome Phylogeny. Science, 341 (6145), 565–569. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1237947.

García, O., Fregel, R., Larruga, J. M ., Álvarez, V., Yurrebaso, I., Cabrera, V. M ., & González, A. M . (2010). Using Mithocondrial DNA to Test the Hypothesis of a European Post-glacial Human Recolonization from the Franco-Cantabrian Refuge. Heredity, 106, 37–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2010.47.

Gorrotxategi, J. (1984). Onomástica indígena de Aquitania [Indigenous Onomastics of A quitania]. Bilbao: UPV.

Haspelmath, M. (2002). Understanding Morphology. Oxford: Arnold.

Hubschmid, J. (1953). Sardische Studien [Sardinian Studies]. Bern: Francke.

Hubschmid, J. (1960). Mediterrane Substrate, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Baskischen und der westöstlichen Sprachbeziehungen [Mediterranean Substrata, with Special Emphasis on the Basque Language and the East-West Language Contacts]. Bern: Francke.

Hubschmid, J. (1978). Romania méditerranéenne et Méditerranée prélatine [Mediterranean Romania and Pre-Latin Mediterranean]. In A. Vàrvaro (Ed.), XIV Congresso di Filologia e Linguistica Romanza [14th Congress of Romance Linguistics and Philology] (pp. 351–364). Napoli: Macchiaroli.

Lakarra, J. A. (1995). Reconstructing the Pre-Proto-Basque Root. In J.-I. Hualde, J. Ortiz de Urbina & R. L. Trask (Eds.), Towards a History of the Basque Language (pp. 187–207). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lakarra, J. A. (2005). Prolegómenos a la reconstrucción de segundo grado y al análisis del cambio tipológico en (proto)vasco [Prolegomena to the Second Degree Reconstruction and the Analysis of Typological Change in (Proto-)Basque]. Palaeohispanica, 5, 407–440.

Lakarra, J. A. (2008). Forma canónica, etimología y reconstrucción en el campo vasco [Canonical Form, Etymology and Reconstruction in the Basque Domain]. Anales del Seminario Julio de Urquijo, 37, 261–391.

Lakarra, J. A. (2009). Forma canónica y cambios en la forma canónica de la lengua vasca: hacia los orígenes del bisilabismo [Canonical Form and Changes in Canonical Form of the Basque Language: Towards the Origins of the Bisyllabism]. Palaeohispanica, 9, 557–609.

Lakarra, J. A. (2010). Aitzineuskararen berreraiketaz: egindakoaz eta eginkizunez [Proto-Basque Reconstructions: Results and Challenges]. Euskera, 55 (2), 617–695.

Lakarra, J. A. (2011). Erro monosilabikoaren teoria eta aitzineuskararen berreraiketa: zenbait alderdi eta ondorio [Monosyllabic Root Theory and Proto-Basque Reconstruction: Some Aspects and Consequences]. Fontes Linguae Vasconum, 113, 5–115.

Lakarra, J. A. (2012). Teoría de la raíz monosilábica y reconstrucción del protovasco: algunos aspectos y consecuencias [Monosyllabic Root Theory and Proto-Basque Reconstruction: Some Aspects and Consequences]. In J. A. Lakarra, J. Gorrotxategi & B. Urgell (Eds.), II Congreso de la Cátedra Luis Michelena [2nd Congress of Luis Michelena Chair] (pp. 652–699). Vitoria-Gasteiz: Universidad del País Vasco.

Lakarra, J. A. (2013). Euskararen historiaurriaren berreraiketa sakonagorako: forma kanonikoa, tipologia holistikoa, kronologia eta gramatikalizazoa [A Remote Reconstruction of Basque: Canonical Form, Holistic Typology, Chronology and Grammaticalization]. III Congreso de la Cátedra Luis Michelena [3rd Congress of Luis Michelena Chair] (pp. 275–324). Vitoria-Gasteiz: Universidad del País Vasco.

Lakarra, J. A. (2014). Protovasco: comparación y reconstrucción…¿para qué y cómo? [Proto-Basque: Comparison and Reconstruction... Why and How?]. In: E. Blasco Ferrer, P. Francalacci, A. Nocentini & G. Tanda (Eds), Iberia e Sardegna. Legami linguistici, archeologici e genetici dal Mesolitico all’Età del Bronzo [Iberia and Sardinia. Linguistic, Archaeological and Genetic Links from Mesolithic to the Bronze Age] (pp. 127–150). Florence: Le Monnier University.

Lieber, P., & Śtekauer, P. (Eds.). (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Compounding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

López Parra, A., Gusmão, L., Tavares, L., Baeza, C., Amorim, A., Mesa, M. S., Prata, M. J., & Arroyo-Pardo, E. (2009). In Search of the Pre- and Post-Neolithic Genetic Substrates in Iberia: Evidence from Y-Chromosome in Pyrenean Populations. Annals of Human Genetics, 73, 42–53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-1809.2008.00478.x.

Loporcaro, M. (2012). Sulla Sardegna preromana [On Pre-Roman Sardinia]. Romanische Forschungen, 125, 56–65. http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-77323

Loporcaro, M. (2014). Etimologie, fonologia, morfologia [Etymology, Phonology, Morphology]. In M. Glessgen & W. Schweickard (Eds.), Étymologie romane: objets, méthodes et perspectives [Romance Etymology: Objects, Methods and Perspectives] (pp. 161–179). Strasbourg: Éditions de linguistique et de philologique.

Lugliè, C. (2009). L’obsidienne néolithique en Méditerranée occidentale [Neolithic Obsidian in the Western Mediterranean]. In M.-H. Moncel & F. Fröhlich (Eds.), L’homme et le précieux. Matières minerals précieuses de la Préhistoire à aujourd’hui [The Man and the Precious. Precious Minerals from Prehistory till Now] (pp. 213–224). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Malkiel, Y. (1962). [Reviews of Johannes Hubschmid’s Schläucher und Fässer, and Substratprobleme]. Language, 38, 149–185.

Meillet, A. (1925). Linguistique historique et Linguistique générale [Historical and General Linguistics]. Paris: Champion.

Michelena, L. (1985). Fonética Histórica Vasca [Historical Phonetics of Basque]. San Sebastián: Anejos del Seminario de Filología Vasca/UPV.

Michelena, L. (1988). Sobre la historia della lengua vasca [On the History of the Basque Language]. (Vols 1–2). San Sebastián: Anejos del Seminario de Filología Vasca/UPV.

Michelena, L. (1990). Textos Arcaicos Vascos [Old Basque Texts]. San Sebastián: UPV.

Michelena, L. (1997). Languages and Protolanguages. Bilbao: Anejos del Seminario de Filología Vasca/UPV.

Michelena, L. (1987–2005). Diccionario General Vasco [The General Dictionary of Basque] (Vols. 1–16). Bilbao: Real Academia de la Lengua Vasca, Euskaltzaindia.

Morvan, M. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 128 (2), 400–404. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/zrp-2012-0038.

NOTMC — Nomenclàtor oficial de toponímia major de Catalunya [The Official Nomenclature of Major Place Names of Catalonia] (2003). Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.

Orpustan, J.-B. (2000). Les noms des maisons médiévales en Labourd, Basse-Navarre et Soule [Names of Medieval Houses in Labourd, Lower Navarre and Soule]. Baigorri: Izpegi.

Orpustan, J.-B. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. LapurdumRevue d’Études Basques, 15, 143–148.

Paulis, G. (2008). Il Paleosardo: Retrospettiva e Prospettive [Palaeo-Sardinian: Retrospection and Prospection]. AIΩN. Annali del Dipartimento di Studi del Mondo Classico e del Mediterraneo Antico. Sezione Linguistica, 30 (4), 10–61.

Pfister, M. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. Vox Romanica, 70, 291–294.

Pittau, M. (1995). Origine e parentela dei Sardi e degli Etruschi. Saggio storico-linguistico [The Origin and the Kinship of Sardinians and Etruscans: A Historical-Linguistic Essay]. Sassari: Carlo Delfino.

Rix, H. & Meisel, G. (1991). Etruskische Texte [Etruscan Texts] (Vols 1–2). Tübingen: Narr.

Silgo Gauche, L. (2011). Review of [Blasco Ferrer 2010a]. Estudios de Lenguas y Epigrafía Antiguas, 11, 361–379.

Silvestri, D. (1979–1982). La teoria del sostrato. Metodi e miraggi [The Theory of Substrate. Methods and Mirages]. (Vols. 1–3). Napoli: Macchiaroli.

Szemerényi, O. (1963). On Reconstructing the Mediterranean Substrata. Romance Philology, 17 (2), 404–418.

Tykot, R. H. (1992). The Sources and Distribution of Sardinian Obsidian. In R. Tykot & T. K. Andrews (Eds.), Studies in Sardinian Archaeology Presented to Miriam S. Balmuth (pp. 57–70). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Untermann, J. (1990). Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum. III. Die iberischen Inschriften aus Hispanien [Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum. III. Iberian Inscriptions from Spain]. (Vols 1–2). Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert.

Untermann, J. (2004). Zur Vorgeschichte der Sprachen des alten Hispanien [On the Prehistory of the Languages of Ancient Hispania]. In A. Bammesberger & Th. Vennemann (Eds.), Languages in Prehistoric Europe (pp. 173–181). Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.

Wagner, M. L. (1951): La lingua sarda. Storia, spirito e forma [The Sardinian Language: History, Soul, and Framework]. Bern: Francke.

Wagner, M. L. (2002): Geschichte der sardischen Sprache [The History of the Sardinian Language]. Tübingen: Francke.

Wolf, H. J. (1998). Toponomastica barbaricina [Barbarian Toponomastics]. Nuoro: Insula.

Wolf, H. J. (2011). La question du paleosarde [The Problem of Palaeo-Sardinian]. Revue de Linguistique Romane, 75, 595–615.