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buber.net > Basque > Euskara > Larry > Note 5a: Urdin
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Note 5a: Urdin

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.

Oops! I forgot something in my last posting: the etymology of <urdin>. This word appears to contain the archaic but familiar adjective-forming suffix <-din>, found also in <berdin> 'same' and <gordin> 'raw', among others. This <-din> is probably related to the lost verb *<edin> in the same way that the more familiar <-dun> is related to *<edun> 'have'. (The "lost verb" *<edin> is the one that occurs in auxiliary forms like <dadin> and <bedi>.) The sense of <-din> is uncertain, but something along the lines of 'resembling' seems plausible.

Now, what about <ur->? Obviously, we think of <ur> 'water' -- and it has to be admitted that 'resembling water' is a magnificent semantic match for a word meaning 'green, blue, gray' -- especially if you've seen the Bay of Biscay a few times. But there is a small fly in the ointment.

In formations of any age, the combining form of <ur> is usually <u->, as in <ubide> 'ford', <uhalde> 'waterside', <ubel> 'livid, purple', <ubil> 'whirlpool', and many other words. So, we might have expected *<udin>, but no such form is recorded. Even so, I am inclined to think that *<ur-din> 'resembling water' is indeed the correct etymology of <urdin>.

Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK


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