Traces of Vasconia in old Castile


Decidedly, summer days should be cooled off with watermelon and reading. I just packed a really exciting little book that just came out: Ramon M. Carnero and Alain Martin Molina. From Vasconia to Zamora. cultural journey (Zamora: Semuret Editions, 2022). This is a grandiose ethnographic, historical, archaeological, linguistic research and a number of other things. It is full of suggestions and food for thought. The field work of the authors is valued, first-hand knowledge and with love for the trodden land. This is a provocative book with which there is no other choice but to reason, that is, to discuss it; in that sense, at least to bring one mind.

Despite the scientific appearance, the text reads like a novel, so intriguing is the plot. which consists of the Castilian language owes much to the influence of Basque, more precisely, different Basque languages ​​over several centuries. It all started with the pre-Roman tribes that came from the Navarrese, Pyrenean and Cantabrian rocks. They are distributed throughout the Duero basin (León and Castilla la Vieja). Another moment of invasion corresponded with efforts to settle this plateau around the 10th and subsequent centuries. Of course, its population was decimated by the Arab invasion (or, better, by the Maghreb) and, above all, by epidemics. So it was no man’s land.

The Glosas de San Millan de la Cogola in La Rioja is an outstanding fact. They represent the first letter (in Latin) where an anonymous monk added a few words in the margins in Spanish and Basque to better understand it. It was the end of the 10th century. It is symbolic that the first native speaker of the Spanish language was Euskaldun.

Today, we may be surprised by such a hypothesis as the authors of the above book, given the conflict of languages ​​in the Basque Country. However, history shows colossal fertilization of the Castilian language by Basque settlers, above all, about a thousand years ago. It is known that the Castilian was born in the lands of the current Biscay, Burgos and La Rioja. It was fortunate enough to expand immediately through the actions of the Reconquista throughout the Castilian region, following a network of “castles” built on the hills next to the rivers. The authors of the book I am commenting on pursued, among other things, a method of the local place-names of Castile, especially the names of Zamora, to confirm the Basque origin of many of them. The most common is urietas, common to coastal areas, found in many cities in the study area, with a pure Basque sound. Note that the Basque voice you means “water”. Think, for example, of the rivers Urumea or Urola, or the mountains of Urbasa or Urgull, in the very heart of Gipuzkoa, “the truest Bardulia.”

The influence of the Basque language adopted by the Spaniards is noticeable.. For example, to stay with five vowels, unlike other romances, which contemplate a few more. Or also the transformation of the initial sound /f/ into a silent /h/ or into /p/, given that the Basques do not like the initial efe. For them, Fernando is Pernando. Another influence of the Basque language is the predilection for the double sound /rr/, as in urietaswhich we have seen before. As if that weren’t enough, the Basques only know the /b/ sound; they do not distinguish it from /v/. Most current Spanish speakers accept both phonemes, but they sound the same. It is no coincidence that some of these variations are responsible for the “spelling errors” that have cost Spanish-speaking students so much effort.

I must add, from my harvest, that the letter /r/ is found in the names of many rivers around the world. Remember: Rhone, Tigris, Euphrates, Rhine, Tiber, Ebro, Jordan, Urubamba, Duero, etc. The onomatopoeic association of this phoneme with “the noise of the flow of rivers, banks and streams” is obvious. Please note that all the capitals of Castile la Vieja rise on the banks of their respective rivers. Moreover, the mythical city of Ur between the Tigris and the Euphrates, the city of Abraham, brings us back to the Basque word for water. Also on the territory of ancient Armenia is Lake Urmia. It is possible that the Latin word for “city” (cities) associated with proximity to water, sea or river of the most famous cities. But take this personal skoliya for pure chatter.

The recorded historical fact is that the vitality of Castilian Spanish was due to the adoption of Basque language influences along with the inclusion of Arabic voices.. The success of such a mixture made it a convenient language for the Christian kingdoms and counties of the Reconquista. These intermittent hostilities caused a strong mobility of people in need of assistance. lingua franca understand each other. Spanish, very clear and polysyllabic, was a propitious occasion for the emergence of this new frontier language.

Another hypothesis about the ancient preservation of the Basques in the Spanish peninsula is also possible. Perhaps it is a language that is a remnant of a group of Iberian speeches that were used before the arrival of the Romans.. The empire of Augustus and his successors put an end to them, such was the power of magnificent Latin. On the geographical outskirts, two remnants survived: the Basques and the Berbers. Curiously, these two languages ​​have many voices.

But my thoughts are also not that they have great authority. I have the most told story of the influence of primitive Basques on the origin of Castilian Spanish. The method of constancy of place names of Basque origin in the cities of Castile leads to undoubted results, although they may seem fantastic. It is already curious that an old conflict has unleashed between these two languages. This book, which I am commenting on, is meant to appease spirits. At one time, it was the Vascons who “descended” to the Duero plateau. In more recent times, quite a few Castilians emigrated to the Basque Country.. Among them is my family. This was the exodus from the urrietas of Pereruel de Sayago to Ondarreta de San Sebastian.



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