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buber.net > Basque > Astro > On Basque Astronymy: Eguzki and Egun
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On Basque Astronymy: Eguzki and Egun

by M. G. Ramos

Tr: Blas Pedro Uberuaga

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Eguzki and Egun

6. We now study the etymology of eguzki. All agree that it is question of a compound word. Its first element is egu-, which we will study later. P. Arriandiaga disagrees on this point, decomposing eguzki into eguz- or egutz-gi. The second element is -zki, according to Uhlenbeck, and -azki, according to Apraiz, who deduces it from ilazki: ilargi, `moon'. In his opinion, it is a question of a doublet or bimorph, and azki is equivalent to argi `artificial or secondary light'. He establishes later ingeniously the parallelism ilazki : ilargi :: eguzki : *egurgi. He explains the disappearance of this last form by collision with a derivative of egur `firewood'.

Ki, -gi, is a restrictive determinative particle (Vinson); suffix that indicates: fragment or subject (Apraiz); material object, fragment, species, class (Azkue); matter, thing (Astarloa); or reunion, aggregation (Chaho).

Schuchardt has eguzki, iguzki derive from egu-, but he finds it difficult to explain the second element and compares it to that of izarski, which in the Bajo-Navarran dialect means `clear weather with starry sky'.

For L. Mendizabal, the second element is izki, which, in turn, is decomposed into iz-ki and means `light, thing that illuminates'.

7. If from the morphologic study we go to the semantic, we will find a great variety of interpretations. For some eguzki means `maker of the day' (Larramendi). For others, it means `light of the day' (L. Mendizabal); `solar, diurnal light' (Schuchardt); `diurnal light' (Barandiaran); `luminary of the day' (Apraiz); `thing of the day' (Astarloa); `matter of light' (P. Arriandiaga); or `luminico' (Campion).

8. Egun `day' has as variants eun and ein. More interesting than the phonetic alterations is the semantic evolution of egun or egu. This last form is conserved isolated in the Bajo-Navarran of Aezkoa with the meaning of `today'. Egu(n) intervenes in the formation of numerous derivatives, with the double meaning of chronological time (day's journey) and weather (temperature, readiness) (Apraiz). The final n disappears in forms like eguantz `dawn', as opposed to the Bizkaian egunantz which conserves it. As Vinson says: ``le n final est souvent adventice en basque.''

The e of egun, which to Astarloa signifies `soft, sweet, delicious, consolant', to Uhlenbeck is probably a prefix. F. Amador de los Rios relates egun with the Turk gun `day', a form that ``Basque conserves with the articulative e placed in front.'' The Academy of the Basque Language opines that egun is composed of egu-un.

The P. Larramendi saw in egun(a) a composition of eguzki-lan(a) `work and effect of the sun'. Chaho also sustains that from the name of the sun, eguzki, ekhi, the day was called eguna, that is to say, period of beneficent clarity. Bonaparte has it derive from ek, radical of eki `sun': ekidun, ekiun, egidun, egun `that has sun'.

9. What is the primitive meaning of egu(n)? Vinson attributes to it that of `light', and, more concretely, `natural light'. So that in its origin it wasn't `day, space of twenty four hours', but day in the sense of the French phrase il fait jour. Analogously, we can say with respect to the German Tag `day', that its etymological meaning is that of `Zeit des Brennes der Sonne' (Kluge), `hot weather' (Meringer). In English, as Skeat says, `day is the hot, bright time'.

Vinson, some years later, basing himself on ilen `Monday' and eguen `Thursday', affirms that egu- is not properly `day, in opposition to night', but rather `sun', in which case eguen means `solar'. Schuchardt also admitted for egu- the double meaning of `sun' and `day'. From egu- proceed eguzki `sun' and egun `day, today'.

10. There exists a very interesting word which, until now, has passed unnoticed. We are referring to guar which in the Basque of San Sebastian means `ray of sun'. It appears derived from egu-, and in such case it would be confirmed for it the primitive sense of `sun'. The elision of the e of *eguar could be a case of phonetic alteration, very frequent in Basque, e.g. phaile `reaper', variant of ephaile, and the surname Chavarri, from Echavarri. We take these examples from Gavel, who makes note that, at times, the suppression of the initial vowel gives as a result the returning of certain words to a more primitive state.

In the case of -ar, we believe it is an ancient suffix. This is exactly one of the affixes not studied by Azkue in his Morfologia Vasca. It is present, in general, in adjectives such as azkar `vigorous', baldar `lazy', etc. Ilar is `(campana) funeral', according to Azkue, but L. Mendizabal decomposes it into il-ar = `of death' (campana, mourning, funeral, etc.). If we ignore the alcance of the suffix -ar as adjective, it becomes harder yet for us to explain its intervention in *eguar `ray of sun', izar `star', ondar `arena', istar `thigh', etc.

11. We have, then, as very probable, that primitively egu- meant `sun, (natural) light, and day' [+]. In the languages of inflection there exists the semantic process in virtue of which two distinct forms of the same word end up differentiating themselves as much in use as in meaning. So, in Latin there is tepor and tempus, whose primitive meaning is `heat'. (Sayce) [+].

In magiar, the same term nap means `sun' and `day'. However, when there is the danger of confusion, `day' is expressed by nappal. (Belfadel). In Turkish, gün is `day' and günes `sun'. (Bonelli).

Basque makes indiscriminate use of the nominal composition, phonetic alterations [+], and suffixation to differentiate and concretize the meaning of words. From egu-, the sun was called eguzki; the ray of sun *eguar; the day, egun.

On the other hand, it is not strange that egu primitively meant sun, light and day, at the same time. Today, the Spanish term sol has these three meanings, as can be seen in any dictionary. Sol is not only the celestial body of the day, but it also means `light, heat or influx of this star'. In addition, it is equivalent to `day', with which we take the cause as effect. When we say tomar el sol, we make us of an expression analogous to that of in English, to walk out of the sun, to bask in the sun, etc. In these phrases, sunlight is substituted by sun. (Whitney). We remember that, in the same Basque, euzkie refers in Ataun to the solar or diurnal light. (Barandiaran).

Another of the derivatives of egu(n) `day' is eguraldi `weather, atmospheric state', a word now used by Dechepare. For Vinson, eguraldi is derived from egun `sun', and means exactly `return of the sun, that is, the reappearance of the sun after bad weather'. But the most probable is that the semantic process has been the following: Egu(n) `day' (hot, bright time; Zeit des Brennes der Sonne) and aldi (in its origins `weather'; later, suffix), formed the compound eguraldi, literally `weather during the day', which later came to be physical weather in general. We still have the term in roncales gaialdi, which means `weather during the night'.

This semantic process can be compared with that of Sanskrit tapas `heat' and Latin tempus, with the difference that in Basque eguraldi didn't obtain the meaning of `metaphysical time' [+].

12. The relationship that egu- could have with ego `south or noon' is also very interesting, as observed by Aranzadi and Apraiz; and with egur `firewood', given the affinity of ideas between light and fire (Apraiz), although Charencey pretended to relate egur with the romantic forms of the Latin curtus [+]. Apraiz also relates with egu(n) the origin of other terms like ekaitz `tempestad' and ekhain `June'. According to this author, ekain probably proceeds from egu-gain, that is to say, `the month of the high, of the supreme day'. Instead, for Vinson ekain(a) is a corruption of ekhail(a) and means `the month of the sun'. Chaho said: ``the month of June receives in Basque the name of Ekhain, Ekhigain, that is, `solar exaltation' .''

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