Sumerian ugu "to give
Sumerian ur "to
Basque ur "water"
Basque arrano "eagle"
Sumerian uru/iri "city, town, village,
Basque (h)erri, iri, uri, ili "town, village, people, country"
Sumerian us "domestic duck or
Basque uso "dove"
Basque eutsi "to maintain, conserve, keep"
Sumerian usuh "fir or spruce
Basque izai "fir tree"
Trask's technique would be to pour scorn on each
individual comparison, but negelct to apply Bayes theorem (weak or moderate
evidence becomes strong once it is stacked together - the "bundle of sticks"
86 comparisons is nothing compared with the number
which link English and German, for instance, but it's surely more than
coincidence (and there are many more).
Trask will no doubt scoff at my comparison of
Sumerian kala/gala "store-pit cellar" with Basque gela "room",
on the ground that the latter is Latin. Perhaps. But that doesn't explain the
similarity. Sumerian couldn't have borowed the word from Latin, even if Basque
With best wishes,
Angus J Huck
Basque and Sumerian (2)
I have one or two things to add to my e-mail of
16/1/2003 on the above subject.
Firstly, I was wrong to place Sumerian tul
"public fountain, well, cistern" in the category of stems unique to
Dene-Caucasian. It is found in Indo-European (English dale and Slavonic
dolina, both "valley"), and in Altaic (Turkish deli-k
Secondly, I note that in addition to Basque
zeden "grub, mite, caterpillar", there is also Basque zeder
"clothes moth". This is closer in form to Sumerian sedur
Is this pure chance, is there an obscure
psychological explanation as to why the two languages should have such similar
words, is the Basque word a borrowing, or is there a genetic connection
between the two?
One hit alone may well be down to chance,
but 86 (and there are more) stretches probability to absurd
Note that I have compared only stems (not
compounds), and have compared primary meanings only (at least where
they are known with some certainty).
If we knew the historical soundshifts which underly
the Sumerian stems, then I suspect we would be able to identify even more
In addition, many items of core vocabulary in
Sumerian are unknown, which increases still further the number of likely
Unfortunately, unlike Yeniseian and North
Caucasian, Sumerian doesn't belong to a family of closely related
languages, which would allow us to examine historical soundshifts, as is the
case with Yeniseian and North Caucasian (even Burushaski has two distinct
dialects, and Basque can be compared with what we know of Iberian, even if
scholars shun this procedure). Sumerian really is an isolate.
An interesting Sumerian word is parim
"arid land, dry land". This bears more than a superficial resemblance to
Spanish paramo "barren upland plateau".
Now, paramo does not exist in Basque, but
the word is clearly a Late Latin borrowing from Iberian, and seems to
originate from the North-West.
I have previously analysed the word as *par,
the North-West Iberian equivalent of Basque i-bar "river-bank,
valley", + the -ama suffix found in place-names like Lezama,
Beizama, etc. (The additional anterior i- in ibar would
not have existed in most dialects of Iberian, and in the North-West, initial
b often became p.)
While I still regard this analysis as the most
likely, we should consider seriously the possibility that paramo is not
a compound but a stem cognate with Sumerian parim.
The difficulty with this is that final m
is impossible in both Basque and Iberian, so the stem, if that is what it is,
would have had to have had three syllables, something almost unique in Basque
and Iberian. (izokin "salmon" is a probable 3-syllable stem, since
ancient borrowings into Celtic and Latin retain the initial i-, though
not the final n. gorosti "holly" is probably a compound: gor-osti
We must note that Sumerian doesn't just contain
stems resembling stems in Basque. gam "to bend, curve, bow down,
kneel", and man "partner", will be familiar to students of
I recently referred to the deity, Torolus
Gombiciegus, recorded on a Roman era inscription at
There is also a Vinia Campegiensis, a
place recorded in Roman times, somewhere near Caceres.
This is an absolutely ghastly Roman rendering of a
native name, which may have been *Benegonbikiaigi, the settlement of
Gonbikiaigi. (*Bene/wini is the same as the bene in
Bene(h)arnum and Benegorri.) Note, though, that the votive
inscription (written by natives, or Romanised natives, in Latin), gives the word
for "eye" as biki. The place-name, doubtless recorded by a Latin
monoglot, gives the same word as pegi, which is closer to Basque, even
though the initial b becomes p, as is often the case in the
Iberian of the North-West.
Examples of this stem in Iberian are: (1) CACUSIN
"keeper of the keys", from the Ascoli bronze plate, and (2) the tesera in
the shape of a horse bearing the message ni biak(a) kordi kakar "I have
both cart hooks" (the Iberian script has no non-syllabic k-sign, so the
final a in biak(a) should be disregarded).
Sumerian garanda "bearing fruit" and
Basque i-gali "fruit".
garanda is a compound, of course.
Sumerian eranum and Basque erramu
This is a bit of a longshot, perhaps, since it
requires us to accept a Sumerian three-syallable stem. (But I seem to remember
Jimmy Carter once being described as a "longshot"!)
Sumerian di/de "to speak" and Basque
dei-tu "to call".
This stem is found in Iberian, on the Liria
ceramics, where a picture of a river battle is captioned gudua : deistea
"the battle, the command".
Sumerian umu "nurse" and Basque
ema-kume (first element) "woman".
Sumerian gana/gan "tract of land, field,
parcel", and the first element in the Basque place-names Gandiaga and
There is also a similar word in Chechen (North
Caucasian), I believe.
Also Sumerian ganba "market place" and the
Basque place-name, Ganba.
Latin campus is no doubt an ancient borrowing from Dene-Caucasian.
Sumerian erib "daughter-in-law" and Basque
arre-ba "sister of a man".
I doubt this one, because the b in Basque
is actually part of the second element in a compound.
In Iberian, arreba was used as an epithet
for female deities, as in Basi Arrebe, the subject of the Ullastreet
lead tablet votive inscription. The Romans rendered this as Revva and
Sumerian du "heap" and Basque
idu/ido/itu "peak" (found in mountain names like Idubeda,
Idubaltza, Idocorry, Amarritu, etc).
Sumerian darra "cured, dried" and Basque
Sumerian buru "crow, raven" and Basque
bela/bele "crow, raven".
In Iberian, we find this stem in personal names
like Belasko "little crow" and Belaur "baby crow" and
place-names like Belegia (Iruna near Gasteiz) "place of the
crows" and Vellica also "place of the crows". (The Iberian personal
name element beles has nothing to do with blackness or crows, but is in
fact equivalent to Basque belatz "falcon".)
On the subject of Basque gela "room" and
its possible relationship with Sumerian gala/kala "cellar,
storage-pit", note the Roman place-name Gella (Cerro del Castillo de
Montealegre). If this is really a Latin place-name, then why did Roman writers
record it in this form?
Now, on the subject of the second element in
Sumerian garanda, there is an obscure Basque word, anta,
meaning "proportion". This may have been used as a suffix in prehistoric
times, equivalent to English -ness, giving us the river name
Carantona (Charente) "highness, holiness?" and Solent
With best wishes,
Angus J Huck
Basque and Sumerian (4)
Yet more Basque/Sumerian comparisons:-
Sumerian aka/ak/ag/a "to do, act, place,
make into" and Basque egin "to do, make" and ekin "to
There is an obvious connection between egin
and the -gin agent suffix, which we know also existed in Iberian
(Enasacin, Ataecina, etc)
Sumerian ara "to shine, blaze" and Basque
Sumerian alim "wild ram, bison, aurochs,
powerful" and Basque orein "deer".
Sumerian bal "to revolve" and bala
"spindle" and Basque bil "sphere" (as in gur-pil, barra-bil,
uka-bil, Balki-bil, etc).
Sumerian bid/vi "anus" and Basque
bide "road, way, means, etc".
Sumerian gi "reed" and Basque i-hi
"reed" (Iberian *ki, as in Ili-ki and Kieko, the
10th C name of Eltziego, Araba).
Sumerian hegal "overflow, abundance" and
Basque ugari "abundance" ???
Sumerian ub "cavity, hole, pitfall" and
Basque ubi "ford" (as in Salduba, Birobi, Segobi-a,
Sumerian susur "stove grill" and Basque
Some of these look fairly weak, but that doesn't
necessarily mean they're wrong!