Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Basque words in English|
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?
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|