buber.net > Basque > Euskara > Larry > Note 24: Plosives
For security reasons, user contributed notes have been disabled.
Note 24: Plosives
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.
The plosives in Basque are /b d g/ and /p t k/ -- what in Spanish are
called the 'bodega' and 'petaca' consonants.
One of Michelena's most interesting discoveries is that, in the Pre-Basque
of some 2000 years ago, the only plosives that could occur at the beginning
of lexical items were /b/ and /g/, while words could not begin with any of
/p t k d/. So, we find loads of native and ancient words like <buru>,
<burdina>, <bizkar>, <bat>, <gu>, <gogo>, <gero> and <gibel>, but we don't
find native and ancient words beginning with the other four consonants.
With one big exception. This is the word <ke> 'smoke', which is clearly
native and which occurs in this form almost everywhere in the country --
except in the Pyrenean region, where the local form is <eke>. Maybe this
<eke> is conservative, and maybe common <ke> results from irregular loss of
the first syllable, but nobody knows.
Another possible exception is the verb <kendu> 'remove'. But this verb
appears as <gentu> or as <gendu> in much of the Pyrenean region, and again
we may surmise that <gentu> is conservative, and that common <kendu>
results from a medieval change in form.
By the way, the initial /d/ which is common in finite verb-forms, as in
<du>, <dator> and <dakit>, is not an exception, since finite verb-forms are
not lexical items. Even so, this initial /d/ is curious. It is clearly an
ancient and fossilized present-tense prefix, but its origin is a mystery.
Some years ago, Rudolf de Rijk proposed that it derives from an ancient
word *<da> 'now', which is interesting, but this proposed *<da> would
appear to have an impossible form for a Basque word.
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
Tel: (01273)-678693 (from UK); +44-1273-678693 (from abroad)
Fax: (01273)-671320 (from UK); +44-1273-671320 (from abroad)
This page is part of Buber's Basque Page and is maintained by Blas Uberuaga.
Please report any problems or suggestions to Blas.