24 September 2013

Basque zaldi 'horse' (updated)

Basque zaldi 'horse' has correspondences in the Iberian antroponym formant saldu and Berber a-serdun 'mule'. Although some authors have proposed a link to thieldones 'a breed of Asturian ambling horses' (Pliny) < IE *del- 'to shake' (cfr. English tilt), in my opinion this is semantically unsatisfactory.

I'd propose an etymology from IE *gwold- 'foal, young of an ass' > Germanic *kult-a- 'colt' (English colt), Sanskrit gardabhá- 'ass'1, with assibilation of the initial velar. This is a Wanderwort found in Caucasian *gwælV (~ -ɫ-) 'horse' (a Nakh-Tsezian isogloss) and which also designates the onager (Equus hemionus):  Farsi gur 'Persian onager (Equus hemionus onager)', Hindi khur 'Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur)'.

The ultimate origin is Altaic: Turkic *Kulum 'foal', Mongolian *kulan 'Mongolian wild ass (Equus hemionus hemionus)'2, linked by the EDAL to Tungusic *ku(l)ma- 'maral/wapiti (Cervus canadensis)' and Japonic *kuáma 'foal, colt', thus reconstructing a protoform *kúlme 'a k. of ungulate'.
1 Tocharian B kercapo 'ass, donkey' is likely an early Indo-Arian loanword. See D.A. Adams (1999): A Dictionary of Tocharian B, p. 195-196. 
2 Borrowed by Turkic, where it designates the Turkmenian kulan (Equus hemionus kulan).

17 September 2013

New Vasco-romance blog

Dear readers,

I've created a new Vasco-romance blog for a smoother communication with my potential readers about Romance etymologies (including borrowings into Basque). To achieve this goal, I'm going to write in Spanish, although occasionally I'd employ Catalan. 

This way, I'm going to migrate some of my older posts (translating them into Spanish, if necessary) to the new blog, while I'd keep in vasco-caucasian (in English) those topics which I consider to be of interest to a wider audience. I'm sorry for the inconveniencies this might cause.


02 September 2013

Basque otso 'wolf' (updated)

Basque otso 'wolf' derives from Aquitanian osson, oxson1, where xs probably reflects an apico-alveolar affricate like the one found in modern Basque. There're also the Iberian onomastic element ośon and the "Tartessian" toponym Osson-oba 'River of wolves', whose second member is an Italoid toponymic element (e.g. On-oba) cognate to Lithuanian upė2.

My colleague Miguel Carrasquer links this word to Berber *wVʃʃVn 'jackal', in turn cognate to Egyptian wnʃ 'wolf' (Militarev). I regard this and other substrate loanwords as remnants of a Paleo-Berber language once spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. This would possibly be reflected in the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup E-M81, native to NW Africa but found also in some areas of the Iberian Peninsula (especially on the west), with a strong peak among Pasiegos of Cantabria, an ethnical group of trashumant shepherds3.

Distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup E-M81
1 J. Gorrotxategi (1984): Estudio sobre la onomástica indígena de Aquitania, p. 250-251.
2 F. Villar (2000): Indoeuropeos y no indoeuropeos en la Hispania prerromana.
3 Attempts to explain this as a result of the Muslim conquest (8th century AD) can be dismissed.