A very hypothetical macrofamily
s. It links the following very, very disparate
- Sino-Tibetan, the huge language family that includes Chinese, Tibetan, Burmese, and many others from that part of the world.
- Na-Dene, which includes the Athabaskan languages of Canada and Alaska, together with Apache, Navajo, and Tlingit; this group has no known connexion to any other American languages.
- North-West Caucasian (also called Nakho-Daghestani), a group of several dozen in the Caucasus Mountains, of which Chechen is the only one with a familiar name.
- North-East Caucasian (also called Abkhazo-Adyghean), a very small group nearby which might or might not ultimately be groupable with North-West Caucasian as North Caucasian, and which includes Abkhaz in Georgia.
- Basque, which is totally unlike anything else in Europe.
- Burushaski, the language of the central valley of Hunza in the Himalayas.
- The central Siberian language Yenisei.
Most linguists consider the evidence for Dene-Caucasian to be extremely tenuous and unconvincing. The isolates such as Basque have been separated from whatever relatives they once had for so long that it is now virtually impossible to reconstruct any relationship with others equally distant in time and space.
The groups of related words claimed to have been found usually only bear a tenuous phonetic and semantic link, no more than you would expect to get by chance. The supposed sound shifts needed to account for them are vague, unlikely with more solidly reconstructed families.
It might seem strange to connect Chinese, very poor in morphology, with the highly inflected Basque, but actually Chinese might not be representative of Proto-Sino-Tibetan, since Tibetan has a richly inflected verb-final auxiliary reminiscent of that of Basque.