the non-Indo-European and non-Hamito-Semitic languages of southern Europe and the islands of the Mediterranean.
The only living Mediterranean language is Basque; the other languages are known through onomastics and from inscriptions, substratum words, and glosses. Among the dead Mediterranean languages are the Iberian languages recorded in ancient inscriptions on the Iberian Peninsula, including the Tartessian language of the southern part of the peninsula; the pre-Romance languages of Italy, including Etruscan, Paleo-Sardic, and Liguri-an(?); the pre-Greek languages of the eastern Mediterranean, including Cypro-Minoan, Eteocyprian, Eteocretan, the language of the Minoan-Mycenaean Linear A, and the language of a stela found in Lemnos, which is close to Etruscan. Some linguists define the Mediterranean languages more broadly to include the Caucasian languages and the languages of Southwest Asia that are not associated with any language families.
Suppositions concerning genetic relations between the Mediterranean languages in the narrow or broad sense—in particular, Basque-Caucasian relations—have not been confirmed. The current theory of a Mediterranean substratum, put forth by the Swiss scholar J. Hubschmid, is built on the distribution of toponymic suffixes and on the pre-Indo-European vocabulary in the Romance languages.
REFERENCESGeorgiev, V. Issledovaniia po sravnitel no-istoricheskomu iazykoznaniiu. Moscow, 1958.
Hubschmid, J. Sardische Studien. Bern, 1953.
Hubschmid, J. Mediterrane Substrate mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Baskischen und der west-ostlichen Sprachbeziehungen. Bern, 1960.
Hubschmid, J. Thesaurus Praeromanicus, fases. 1–2. Bern, 1963–65.
V. P. NEROZNAK