Tag Archives: larry trask

Basque Fact of the Week: The Aquitanians, Ancestors of the Basques

The Basque language is what is called an isolate — it has no known living relatives. Contrast that with the other languages of Europe, almost all of which are Indo-European languages, and you can see why Basque has attracted so much attention from linguists. However, just because the Basque language has no living relatives doesn’t […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Native Basque Words for the Elements

There are currently 118 elements on the periodic table. Maybe 10 were known to the ancients: copper, lead, gold, silver, iron, carbon, tin, sulfur, mercury, and zinc. Given the importance of these elements to metal working, it isn’t surprising to find that several of these have native words in Basque. As noted by linguist Larry […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Buber’s Basque Page is 25 Years Old

Buber’s Basque Page is 25 years old! I first started working on what would become this site back in the fall of 1994. I had just started graduate school in the Physics Department at the University of Washington. I was very lucky to have a fellowship that freed me from teaching duties, so I used […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Strange Literal Meanings of Some Basque Words

At the time of his death, Professor Larry Trask was working on an etymological dictionary of the Basque language. The dictionary was to give the origin of Basque words, tracing their history to either other languages or to a so-called Proto-Basque, a reconstructed Basque that must have been spoken many years ago. Though I’m not […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Earliest Written Evidence of Euskara

Euskara, the language spoken by the Basque people, is now spoken by about 750,000 people. The language is perhaps the most singularly important feature identifying the Basque people. Indeed, the word for a Basque person in Euskara — euskaldun — means ‘one who has Euskara.’ Thus, the history of the language itself is of great […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Originally Didn’t Have Separate Words for Blue, Grey and Green

In modern Basque, there are words for blue, grey and green. However, only one of these, urdin, that is native to the language. While today urdin means blue, originally it also encompassed the colors grey and green. Urdin, meaning grey, can be found in several phrases. For example, grey hair and beards are still often […]

Buber’s Basque Flashback: Larry Trask’s Introduction to Basque

Larry Trask, who died in 2004, was a professor of linguistics at the University of Sussex. He published prolifically, with numerous books to his credit. In particular, he was an internationally recognized authority on Euskara, both its grammar and history. He almost fell into his studies accidentally, starting off as a chemist, only going into […]