Hasiera · Home
Ezaugarriak · Features
Oharrak · Notes
Sarrera · Introduction
Kirolak · Sports
Musika · Music
Janedanak · Gastronomy
Tokiak · Places
Historia · History
Politika · Politics
Albisteak · News
Nahas Mahas · Misc

buber.net > Basque > Astro > On Basque Astronymy: New Interpretations of Eguzki
For security reasons, user contributed notes have been disabled.

On Basque Astronymy: New Interpretations of Eguzki

by M. G. Ramos

Tr: Blas Pedro Uberuaga

[Next] [Up] [Previous] [Contents]
Next: Ilazki Up: On Basque Astronymy Previous: Ila and Ilargi

New Interpretations of Eguzki

22. Once made the exposition of the diverse theories and interpretations, we will give as summary that in Basque, in spite of the relative transparency of the compound names, the origin and primitive meaning of the names of the `sun' and the `moon' have not been able to be settled in a definite manner. It is only known that, as probable, that egu and ila could have been, in ancient times, the names of the celestial bodies in question.

We have already said that egu means at the same time `sun, (solar) light, day and today'. Il(a) is equivalent to `moon, month'. It is also possible that it meant `night, obscurity'. In modern times, ilun, ilhun serve to name the night in the Upper- and Lower-Navarran dialects. Lopez Mendizabal interprets ilazki `moon' (with palatalized l) as composed of ila-iz-ki, literally `light of the night', that is to say, `moon'. As can be seen, there exists a certain parallel in the semantic evolution of egu and il(a).

Of the modern names for the sun, the most interesting and of a most primitive aspect are eguzki (or eguski) and eki. And of the names of the moon, argizari, ilargi and ilazki (or ilaski). Ilazki is the parallel form to eguzki. According to the most general opinion, eki is a contraction of eguzki. Argizari and ilargi do not offer doubts in regards to their composition. Thus, it must be that the key must be in eguzki and ilazki. The interpretations that have been made from the beginning are more of a logical character, thus as Astarloa said, ``our first fathers regularly gave it (the sun) the name thing of the day, star of the day, or light of the day or some other thing synonymous with this meaning.''

23. The second element of eguzki, that is -zki, it is not evident to us that it means `light, star, thing, etc.'. In order to suppose this, eguzki must be decomposed as eguz-ki, egu-(a)zki or egu-(i)zki. The existence of ilazki in correspondence with eguzki makes it very probable that the z forms part of the first element. And referring to egu-(a)zki, egu-(i)zki, we ask: Do the suffered alterations agree with the principles of Basque phonetics? It is not very easy to show the transition from eguazki or eguizki to eguzki. Egu-aski has been able to give, perfectly, eguazki or egubazki. Examples: eguantz `dawn', eguargi `clear day', eguasten `Wednesday', which has as variants egubazten, a form cited by Vinson but not by Azkue. In regards to egu-(i)zki, we only comes across it in a manual dictionary, whose author must not be very sure of this etymology when in another place of the same dictionary he decomposes eguzki as egutz- gi.

With the possibility that eguzki comes from egutz-gi, egu-azki, or egu-iz-ki, we are left with the possibility that it decomposes into egu-zki, or bien into egu-uzki. Zki by itself does not mean anything nor can it be a Basque word. But it could be an ancient double suffix, composed of -z and -ki, which brings us nearer to the hypothesis of Schuchardt and we must compare eguzki with izarski. This suffix - -ski, -zki - would be analogous to -zko, whose functions can be the following: 1) material cause, 2) manner, mode, 3) medium, 4) multitude. (Azkue). -Zko and -zka are also diminutive suffixes, but they seem to be alterations of -sko and -ska. (Azkue).

24. Finally, the solution egu-uzki remains. Many find it inadmissible, pointing out the meaning of the second element, in Latin nates, clunes. But, can linguistics have prejudices? Have we fallen into the errors of the French preciosity of the 17th century?

One of the various meanings of uzki is that of `eye of a needle', but there is no lack of dictionaries that translate it as `eyelet of the needle', when it is known that needles do not have eyelet, but eyes. This will give us the key of the instinctive repugnance of the Basque writers. Any dictionary of the Spanish language, beginning with that of the Royal Academy, when treating the term ojo, will indicate, between its various acepciones that of `agujero that has the needle so that the thread enters'.

25. The etymologies proposed for begi `eye' are various and there has not been a lack of those who pretend to relate it with Hebrew or with the Caucus languages. We must not enter in its analysis and comparison with other languages. But it occurs to us that uzki seems to have the second element in common with begi, which is the same -ki or -gi already studied before.

It is curious to observe that in the Roncales of Ustarroz the name of the sun is eguzku, this final form coinciding with that of the Roncales variant of uzki, which is uzku.

26. In order to comprehend well the confusion of ideas that carried uzki to its degradation, it is convenient to have in mind that uzki `nates, clunes', is encountered tightly linked with terms such as uzkar `ventosidad', which in turn is a phonetic alteration of puzkar; buztan `cola, rabo'; putz, butz `blowing, ventosidad'. So that the most probable is that uzki, in the sense of `nates, clunes', comes from *puzki.

In losing the p of *puzki, the homophone is produced and from there follows the collision with uzki `eye', a term that seems to have a very diverse origin, perhaps from *kuski, *kuzki, in whose case the nucleus or radical element of ikusi `to see' reappears, which is decomposed as i-kus-i. This would also explain why in some phonetic variants of eguzki and ilazki there is the interchange between the s and z, which is very frequent in Basque.

Even Novia de Salcedo, when studying the etymology of uzkerr(a), admits that it is aferesis of puzkerr(a). One of the laws of Basque phonetics consists in that the explosive surds in the initial position are made voiced and with respect to the labials, in the current state of the language no indigenous term can begin with the letter p, because these initial p have become b. (Gavel). And the initial b is lost preferably in front of u, for the great affinity that exists between the two. (Uhlenbeck, Gavel). *Puzki has been able to become uzki, whether by mediation of an aspired sound or, by that which is most probable, through a form *buzki.

27. The words related to the idea of `to blow' in almost all languages are onomatopoeic and generally begin with a labial. Thus, we have, as equivalents of `to blow': English puff; French bouffer; Norwegian, blaase, puste, pruste; dialectal Norwegian puffe (Falk); Lithuanian pusti; Spanish and Catalan bufar. In Sanskrit, phut-kara means the action of blowing, whistling. (Meillet). Monier-Williams confirms that phut, phute is an onomatopoeic word and observes that that it is only used with kri `to do' and its derivatives. Thus, phut-kri means to blow, literally `to do blowing'. Compare the Basque putz-egin `to blow', which also properly means `to do blowing'. The variants of putz `blowing' are butz, bütz, hütz, utz, and can serve as an example for the phonetic study of the initial p.

[Next] [Up] [Previous] [Contents]
Next: Ilazki Up: On Basque Astronymy Previous: Ila and Ilargi

This page is part of Buber's Basque Page and is maintained by Blas Uberuaga.
Please report any problems or suggestions to Blas.
Eskerrik asko!