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Subject: Basque words in English
Question: I noticed today whilst studying that the Basque word for measurement of 0.0254m is Ontza. It cannot be coincidence that this is the same as the Inch in English. The word Pintxos is a ''Pintch'' of food. Both are using the common sound ending ''intch''sound So which language borrowed from which? Jane Sewell
Reply: There are probably no direct borrowings, but rather English and Basque borrowing from a common source. Latin for sure in one case. English "inch/ounce" both come from Latin "unica". I would suspect that Basque "Ontza" is also from Latin (Spanish has the word "onza", ounce). Since the Romans were in Hispania, Basque does contain lots of Romance vocabulary either directly from Latin or from Spanish or other local Latin-descended Romance languages. And yes, 1 inch = .0254 m Basque pintxos may be related to Spanish "pincho", both of which refer to small bites of foods (aka tapas). One etyomology relates "pincho" to spike or thorn, and pinchos are supposed to be so named because they are speared by toothpicks. The connection of English "pinch" and Spanish "pinchar" 'to spike' is not immediately obvious. The Oxford English Dictionary says pinch is from Norman French, but can't trace the source beyond that. The Royal Academy of Spain dictionary says that "pinchar" is related to "punchar" 'puncture' from Latin punct- Since both "pinch" and "pinchar" refer to small sharp pains (or objects that cause small sharp pains), I wouldn't rule out a connection, but I can't verify it. In any case, the Basque word is probably a local Romance word as is the English word.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 16-Sep-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Basque words in English    James L Fidelholtz     (16-Sep-2013)

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