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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: Hi, Jane,

Around the time of Columbus, the Basques were also great seafarers,
fishing off of Maritime Canada, among other places. Indeed, we have
no evidence, since the Basques didn't write books at that time, but
it is not impossible that they got to America before Columbus. What
is likely is that the Micmac (who were recorded in 1497 by John
Cabot as uttering some phrases apparently containing Basque
borrowings, which have been suggested to have been a Basque-Micmac
pidgin language) borrowed some Basque words as the first borrowings
from a European language into an American Indian language.
Apparently, the pidgin was short-lived, and the only currently-used
borrowing (that we know of) in Micmac from Basque is 'atlaay',
which means 'shirt'. In any case, the influence of the Basque on
(especially coastal) languages in the Atlantic should not be a
great surprise.


James L. Fidelholtz
Graduate Program in Language Sciences
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO
Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
Date: 16-Sep-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Basque words in English    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (16-Sep-2013)

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