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buber.net > Basque > Euskara > Larry > Note 13: The Word Farmhouse
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Note 13: The Word Farmhouse

by Larry Trask

Larry Trask, a world expert on Basque linguistics and the history of the Basque language, passed away on March 28, 2004. Larry contributed extensively to several online communities, including Basque-L and the Indoeuropean list. This collection of his postings is dedicated in his memory.

To learn about Larry, see this article.

In the south, the usual word for 'farmhouse' is <baserri>, which is of course a compound of <baso> 'woods, wilderness' and <herri> 'inhabited place'. But the northerners use a different word: <borda>. Why?

Well, the original sense of <borda> was merely 'hut'. This word was borrowed from Gascon <borde> 'hut', and applied by the northerners to the shepherd's hut occupied by a shepherd during the summer months in the high pastures -- what many southerners call a <txabola>.

But, during the 17th and 18th centuries, there was something of a population boom in the north. A shortage of farms therefore developed, and the solution the northerners found was to convert some of the high pastures into new farms. When this was done, the existing <bordak> served as the nuclei of new farmhouses, and the sense of <borda> accordingly shifted from 'shepherd's hut' to 'farmhouse'. This is the reason for the frequency of the surname <Bordaberri> in the north.

In some places, <borda> is used in the different sense of a kind of shelter or enclosure for animals.

Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK


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