ELL: Tartessian

Nicholas Ostler nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK
Sun May 13 12:14:08 UTC 2001

At 7:47 pm -0400 2/5/01, Nakerite at aol.com wrote:
>Does anyone one know if Tartessian (a language once spoken in Spain) is
>related to Basque, Phonecia, or to anyother language? Is there a Tartessian
>grammar or dictionary extant? Schoenhof's had nothing on the sobject. Thanks.

First you would have to know where it was spoken.  Tartessus is not a
historic site, but according to Strabo 3.2. 11-12, it was just next
to Gibraltar, in the extreme south of Spain. I presume this would
most likely suggest their language was of an Iberian variety which
was non-Celtic.  Although I believe there are one or two inscriptions
in Iberian, they are not from this region, and have not been related
to any other language.  Evidently the Phoenicians blew into this area
in the first millennium BC, and the Basques are a people pre-dating
the Celtiberians, and who had been living not far away (well, in the
same peninsula) from time immemorial, but I don't think you will find
a Tartessian grammar or dictionary - or much evidence as to which
other extant grammar or dictionary would have been the closest.

Nicholas Ostler
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