Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Irish, English unlikely to "Basque" in idea of shared ancestor

I had a best friend in high school who was Spanish. Well, Spanish-Canadian. Because in Canada you're always "dash Canadian." Her parents were from Spain, though, which gives her more direct immigrant cred.

Being Spanish, she was fiery and passionate about her Spanish origins and Spanish culture. She was, as I once informed her...deeply ethnocentric. But then again, Spanish culture is a great one to be ethnocentric about.

I'm a fair, freckled, blue-eyed redhead. She is a fair, unfreckled, blue-eyed very light brunette with lots of strawberry in her colouring. In fact, in Spain they call her "rubia" which essentially means blonde. She has northern Spanish colouring--where her mother's family is from.

We used to talk about our ancestral origins and the close proximity of Spain to Ireland (where my forefathers were from on both my maternal and paternal sides), and how interesting it was that people in Ireland often have dark eyes and hair (black celt) and people in northern Spain often have blue eyes and reddish hair and that maybe that indicated some kind of genetic common ground at some point in the past, since we usually associate each culture with the inverse.

When you think about it, Ireland was under a mile or two of ice for thousands of millenia. The people there now weren't there until at the earliest 15,000 or so years ago. They had to come from somewhere.

Thing is, Britain was under ice too. So they had to come there from somewhere as well. Is it possible that two separate peoples individually settled the British Isles and Ireland, or was it one people that branched off under the pressures of various cultural invaders and integrators?

According to today's NYTimes, some geneticists are claiming that the Irish, Scottish, Welsh...and English...are decended from a common genetic ancestor that came from Spain and spoke a language related to Basque.

I'm predicting riots and car burnings.

Also, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of my grandfather rolling in his grave like my hydro-meter on a -40 day.

The article gets into alot of blather about Y chromosomes and linguistic origins. Bottom line, if you introduce the phrase "Y chromosome" into an article you can get away with mostly hype and not much solid content.

The main point, if I've got it right, is if you go back far enough, people from these seemingly distinct cultures share a common geneaology. That's earth-shattering, that is. Next thing you'll be telling me all humans are descended from a common ancestor.

Still, Dr. Oppenheimer's book will spawn a cultural controversy that should lead to much hilarity on the Irish and British blogging circuits--personally, I'm all a-quiver with anticipation. Muintir na Breataine and muintir na hEireann, start your engines.


Blogger Ann-imal said...

VERy interesting indeed! My family, straight from Holland, was contacted once by someone in the US claiming that we may be related (his last name was like mine but minus a "u" or something). Anyhoo, he was doing his family tree and it turns out that, if we are indeed related, that my geneology goes back to Scotland, then Denmark, then Germany then Holland... Where's my kilt?

11:40 AM  

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