25 July 2011

Initial labials in Basque

Unlike what we've seen in last post, the native result of Latin and Romance f- in Basque is /p/, lenied to /b/ in the standard variety at word-initial: 

Latin fāgu- 'beech' > romance *fago > Basque pago, bago id. (but also fago)
Latin fīcu- 'fig' > Romance *fīco > Basque p(h)iko, biku id. (but also fiko, fiku)
Germanic *fīlō 'file' > Spanish filosa 'sword, knife' > Basque piruxe 'scissors'
Latin fīlu- 'thread' > Basque p(h)iru, biru id. (but also firu)
Latin fōnte- 'source, spring' > Basque ponte, ponde 'baptismal font' 
Latin fōrma- 'mould' > Basque borma 'wall'
Latin fortia- 'strength' > Romance *fortsa >  Basque bortxa 'force, violence'
Latin fortis 'strong' > Basque portitz, bortitz 'hard, strong'
Romance *freca 'stroke' > Basque p(h)ereka id. (but also fereka)  
Latin fronte- 'forehead' > Basque boronde, boronte id.
Latin furca- 'pitchfork' > Basque urka 'pitchfork, gallows'

Also *w from Latin v- (and in some cases also b-) became /p/:

Latin bēstia- 'animal' > Basque piztia, pisti(a) 'beast, pest'
Latin brāca- 'trousers' > Basque prakak (plural)  'trousers' (but also frakak)
Latin gaudiu- 'joy' > Romance *gots [wots]1 > Basque poz, bo(t)z 'joy, happiness'
Latin vēsīca- 'urine bladder; blister' > Basque pu(t)xika 'urine bladder'
Latin viride- 'green' > Romance verde> Basque p(h)erde, berde id. (but also ferde)
Latin voluntāte- 'will, desire' > Basque borondate, boront(h)ate id.
Latin vulture- > Romance *wutre2 > Basque putre id. (but also futre)

By contrast, a minoritary set of words has a nasal /m/ instead:

Celtic *bakko- 'hook, (curved) stick' > Basque mako 'hook; pitchfork, prong; walking-stick, shepherd's staff', mak(h)ila, mak(h)illa 'stick' (diminutive)
Romance barca 'boat' > Basque marka id.
Late Latin persica- 'peach' > Basque mertxika 'apricot, peach' 
Latin pīca- 'magpie' > Basque mika id.
Latin portu- '(mountain) pass' > Basque mortu, maurtu 'desert' (but also portu)
Latin vāgīna- 'sheath' > Basque magina, magiña 'sheath, pod'
Latin vascellu- 'little glass' > Basque maskelu, maskillo 'little cauldron'

Even more oddly, in some dialectal words the initial labial becomes a dental /d/ (/l/ in the standard variety):

Romance banca 'small bench' > Basque lanka, lanke id.
Romance *pendiolu- 'hanging'3 > Basque dindullu 'earrings'
Latin verberāre 'to whip, to hit, to beat' > Basque dirdira 'sunshine reflection'
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1 Spanish gozo < *gotso.
2 Asturian utre &lt.
3 Catalan penjoll.

20 July 2011

Initial pl-,fl- in Basque

As it's well known, Basque abhors "muta cum liquida" clusters and thus we've got boronde, boronte < Latin fronte- and p(h)ereka, fereka 'stroke' from Romance *freca < Latin fricāre 'to rub'. 

There's however a number of words where Latin pl-, fl- have given Basque l-: 

Latin plācet 'it pleases' > Basque laket 'pleasure'
Latin plānu- 'flat' > Basque lau(n), leu(n), legun 'flat, smooth'
Latin plūma- 'feather' > Basque luma id.
Latin flamma- 'flame, fire' > Basque lama 'flame, heat'
Latin flore- 'flower' > Basque lore id.

The evolution fl- > l-1 can also be found in Spanish words such as lacio < *flaccidu- 'flacid' and the personal name Laín < Flavinus. IMHO this could be explained if these labials were realized as a voiceless bilabial fricative [φ] like in Proto-Celtic2, where IE *pl- became *φl- and later l- in Celtic languages. Of course, we should expect the same evolution in genuine Celtic loanwords in Basque3:

Celtic *φlāro- 'floor' > Basque larre 'meadow'
Celtic *φletro- 'hide, leather' > Basque larru, narru 'skin'

IMHO, the realization of /f/ as [φ] (which in fact is the usual pronounciation in most of Northern Spain (also including Basque-speaking areas) would explain the aspiration of Latin f- as h- in Gascon and Spanish4.  

In Basque, this consonant disappears at word-initial, mostly before back vowels, where also /p/was realized as [φ]:

Romance *fīco 'fig' [φiko] > Basque iko id.
Latin fīlu- 'thread' [φilu] > Basque iru id.
Romance *fondo 'bottom' [φondo] > Basque ondo 'side, bottom' 
Romance *fongo 'fungus' [φongo] > Basque onddo 'mushroom'
Latin fōrma- 'mould' [φorma] > Basque horma, orma 'wall'
Latin frāga- 'strawberry' [φ(a)raga] > Basque arraga, araga id.5
Romance pollo 'chicken' [φoλo] > Basque oilo 'hen'
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1 However, in most words the cluster fl- became assimilated to pl-, then palatalized in Spanish and Portuguese, as in flamma- > Spanish llama, Portuguese chama. 
2 In Proto-Celtic, PIE *p became a voiceless bilabial fricative *φ (then lost in the daughter Celtic languages) at word-initial and intervocally, but *b in other contexts.
3 In fact, there's ample evidence of Celtic toponymy in the Westernmost part of the Basque country, suggesting the area was previously inhabited by Celtic speakers. 
4 Unlike Gascon, Spanish never aspirates clusters fl-, fr- (see note 1). Also Castilian alone doesn't aspirate f- when followed by /w/ (resulting from diphtongation of Latin short /o/), hence fonte- > fuente. However, this doesn't happen in Cantabrian and Eastern Asturian varieties, where we find /xwénte/ instead.
5 In the variant arraga, [φr] evolved to a trill [rr], which then adquired a prothetic vowel. Compare Gascon ahraga

¿A dónde me llevas?

18 July 2011

Una calle no es una arruga, sino un arroyo

Como es bien sabido, el castellano arroyo es una forma masculina derivada del latín hispánico (Plinio) arrugia 'galería de mina', un conducto artificial por donde circulaba el agua al objeto de lavar el mineral1. Lo que ya no es tan conocido es que una forma emparentada *rūga es el verdadero origen del portugués rua y francés rue 'calle, calleja'2, erróneamente atribuído por el romanista Meyer-Lübke (REW 7426) al latin rūga 'arruga'3.

De la forma diminutiva *rūgula deriva el gascón arrrolha, rolha, garrolha 'arroyo, cavidad, canal', prestado al euskera arroil, erroila 'canal; barranco; cavidad; raya del pelo'. 

En mi opinión, todas estas formas provienen de una lengua vasco-caucásica pero no vascónica a la que llamo cantábrico. La etimología es a partir del PNC *jɦerqqwɨ (˜ -o:) 'ladera; barranco, trinchera', que en euskera nativo da erreka 'barranco, lecho de río o arroyo; arroyo; surco; raya del pelo'. En las lenguas hispánicas encontramos cognatos en portugués rego, asturiano riego, catalán rec, castellano regato 'riachuelo; canal de riego'. 

Aunque algunos linguistas han sugerido para estas palabras una etimología céltica a partir de *φrikā 'surco de arado' (latín porca)4, hay que rechazarla por razones semánticas como hace Corominas. En este sentido, el parecido con el antiguo eslavo eclesiástico rĕka 'río' (cuya ascendencia IE es dudosa) parece algo más que una simple anécdota.
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1 Este método era especialmente usado en las minas de oro, hasta el punto que los romanos perforaron una montaña (Montefurado) y desviaron a través de ella el río Sil.
2 Meyer-Lübke cita también las formas ruga (dialectos sud-itálicos), arruga (campidorés) y carruga (lucano). Y en euskera encontramos el vizcaíno arruga 'plaza, mercado'.
3 Coromines acepta esta etimología hasta el punto de afirmar que "vistas desde lejos, las calles de una localidad semejan arrugas". Sin comentarios.
4 Del PIE *perk´- 'surco', que en mi opinión proviene del PNC *ɦwə:rqqe: 'línea de los montes; límite' > euskera hegi.

07 July 2011

Dwellings

Latin colō 'to inhabit, to dwell' (hence in-cola 'inhabitant', in-quil-īnus 'tenant') is derived by Indo-Europeanists from PIE *kwel- 'to turn', assuming the original meaning was 'to turn up soil'. However, this explanation strikes me as a bad one, so I searched for a better etymology.

I see here a PIE A root *kwel- 'to dwell' (homonymous with the above one) cognate to PAltaic *gù:lí 'dwelling, cottage'.  This is in turn related to PNC *qəlV 'house, hut', which gives also Kartvelian *xl- 'to dwell' (hence *sa-xl- 'house' and PIE B *sel- 'dwelling, settlement' (Latin solum, PGermanic *sala-), an instance of Fournet's Law1.
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1 See my earlier post for more information.