The other day, I promised to say something about the Basque words for 'lord' and 'lady'.

Now, the word for 'lady' is everywhere <andere>, which in some varieties has been reduced to <andre>. In Bizkaian, the form has shifted to <andra> (old Bizkaian <andera>), in typical Bizkaian fashion, and the sense has shifted to 'woman', but these developments are clearly secondary.

As it happens, ANDERE is attested as a female name in Aquitanian, and so we may be confident that the word is old in Basque. Quite a few people have seen this as a borrowing from Celtic, since Old Irish has a word <ander> 'young woman'. But there is another idea.

A few years ago, Joaquín Gorrochategui pointed to the existence in Aquitanian of a Latinized male name ANDOSSUS. He proposes to interpret this as an Aquitanian name *<Andots>, which is perfectly reasonable. Now comes the interesting part.

Gorrochategui points to the existence in Basque of an apparent suffix <-dots> ~ <-ots>, found in several animal names, as in <bildots> 'lamb', and at least occasionally having the apparent sense of 'male'. He therefore proposes that Pre-Basque had a stem *<and->, and that this stem could take female and male suffixes to yield both *<andere> 'lady' and *<andots> 'lord'.

Of course, *<andots>, if it ever existed, has disappeared. But the historical word for 'lord', <jaun>, is a very funny-looking word for a noun: it looks for all the world like the participle of a lost verb, possibly meaning something like 'exalted'. Gorrochategui's hypothesis requires that the original *<andots> should simply have been replaced by this <jaun>.

Now, I find this appealing, but I can't really tell if there's anything in it. If Gorrochategui is right, then Pre-Basque, or perhaps better Pre-Pre-Basque, must have been significantly different from the historical language, in allowing stems like *<and-> and in possessing explicit male and female suffixes.

Finally, though I don't recall that Gorrochategui mentions this, it will not have escaped your attention that his proposed stem *<and-> could provide a source for the adjective <handi> 'big'. A sense along the lines of 'great' would not seem unreasonable within Gorrochategui's proposal. But who knows?

Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK

larryt@cogs.susx.ac.uk

Tel: 01273-678693 (from UK); +44-1273-678693 (from abroad) Fax: 01273-671320 (from UK); +44-1273-671320 (from abroad)