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buber.net > Basque > Astro > On Basque Astronymy: The Sun and Comparative Semantics
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On Basque Astronymy: The Sun and Comparative Semantics

by M. G. Ramos

Tr: Blas Pedro Uberuaga

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The Sun and Comparative Semantics

31. The hypothesis that in the composition of eguzki the element `eye' enters is also based on the observations of comparative Semantics. Without going much further, in the Indo-Germanic languages hallaremos a curious affinity of ideas between `sun' and `eye'. In Old Irish, suil means `eye'. (Meillet). In Sanskrit we have seen that the sun was compared with a monster with only one eye. In addition, between the epiteths that were given to it are those of `brilliant eye' and `celestial eye'.

But the English language has another metaphor even more beautiful and that is the name of the daisy which in Middle English was dayësyë and in Anglo-Saxon dæ ges eage, literally `eye of day, day's eye', that is to say, the sun, which it resembles. (Skeat) [+].

32. The scientific name of the daisy is Bellis perenis. In Spanish it is called vellorita, margarita de los prados, chiribita, maya and pascueta. (Lacoizqueta). This author translates it to Basque as ostaiska. Baraibar, among the Araban words, mentions chiribita=`vellorita o daisy de los prados' and decomposes this term into chiri `disc, pulley, wheel' and bita `little', that is `little wheel or little pulley'.

In Basque the words for daisy and those for butterfly are confused. Among those for butterfly we have chiribia, chiribiri, chirita, etc. The Bizkaian pitxilote, pitxoleta mean at the same time `daisy' and `butterfly'. In these same terms it is necessary to look at the origin of bichileta, with which in the Castillian of Araba designates the spring. (Baraibar).

The sunflower is called eguzki-belar in Basque, literally `grass of the sun', or simply ekhi, which, as we have seen, is one of the names of the diurnal star. The P. R. de Bera translates sunflower and tornasol as ekilili, while Azkue cites the forms ekilili `calaminta' and ekhilili `helianto', which literally means `flower of the sun'. Lacoizqueta gives as name in Basque of the calaminta egilili(a), citing as well the form egilicha of the dictionary of Larramendi. He interprets the first element as egi(a) `hill, knoll', but the form ekilili of Azkue causes us to believe that in egilili, egilicha also enters the name of the sun. In such a case, to the list of the names of said star, we can add egi, which placed next to egu brings us to a radical element eg-, ek-, with -i, -u being merely suffixes. At the same time, it would confirm the priority of egu, egi, eki, ekhi over eguzki. Very probably, among the first it is necessary to look for the primitive name of the sun.

Bonaparte said: ``Understood that ek means sun, because we have ekhi or eki, synonyms of eguzki.''

33. In Sanskrit, ákshi means `eye'. Well then, the dual serves to identify the sun and the moon, that is `the (two) eyes'. Also in Sanskrit, dríshti has, among others, the meanings of `eye, pupil; aspect of the stars'. Nabhås-cakshus `eye of the sky' was one of the names of the sun. (Monier-Williams). The Greeks called the stars `eyes of the night'. (Max Müller).

34. If we pass from the Indo-European languages to Tagalog of the Philippines, we will see that hari means `king, queen' and is a term of Sanskrit origin. In this last language, among many other meanings, it has that of `sun'. Pardo de Tavera says that maybe the Tagalog kings se dieran this name, as in other nations they give the name `son of the sun [+], sun of the heavens or of the moon'. According to this same author, in the Malaya-Polynesian languages, in which hari means the sun, it always appears preceeded by mata `eye'. In the purely Polynesian languages, ao, which means the sun, also appears preceeded by mata.

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