A language isolate is a language that does not have a genetic or genealogical relationship with any other living language. The Basque language is the most common example of these, I believe.
The impossibility of linking Basque with its Indo-European neighbors in Europe made many scholars search for its possible relatives elsewhere. Besides many pseudoscientific comparisons, the appearance of long-range linguistics gave rise to several attempts at connecting Basque with geographically very distant language families.
Many hypotheses on the origin of Basque are considered controversial, and the suggested evidence is not generally accepted by most linguists.
Cool, I love this kind of stuff. And then I saw the enormous number of languages that are considered to be language isolates. Here’s a picture of what I could fit in my screenshot window of language isolates in S. America. Click for a full view.
The proposed column is for what language they might be related to.
Did this many peoples really forge their own languages out of nothing? Have we really lost this much knowledge over the course of our history?
The black hole of our past is awesome and huge.