Selected category ◊ Researchers ◊

• Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Hello! Your information is very helpful! I wonder if you might help me find the source of my surname, as it could be Basque. The surname is ‘Deocariza’. It seems to exist only in the Philippines. The family members are much taller than most other Filipinos. They have unique yet fair faces.

I cannot find any exact matches outside of the Philippines. I’ve found two similar surnames that are Basque. ‘De Ciriza’ and ‘De Oca’.

The family doesn’t look Latin except for me. Latinos speak to me in Spanish. They assume I am Latino. My mother is of Scottish descent. I think the Celtic cousin DNA brought forward recessive Basque features that are dormant in my Philippine family.

Can you help me decipher my surname?


A reader of our blog “Euskararen Jatorria”, asks us from the Philippines the possibility that his surname "Deocariza" could be of Basque origin, because he has exhausted other possibilities and none has given him a reliable result.

Our methodology is relatively simple; it is based on the revision of hundreds of thousands of toponymic names to determine if some of them may be directly related to the surnames or other descriptors that they offer us.

The Basque tradition frequently relates the family names with the name of the house or headquarters in which the family new members were born. That house, usually inherits the name of the place, therefore there is usually a relationship between the place name that describes a place, the house that was built on it and the family name.

For example, if a place was rich in pear trees ("madari" in Euskera), the place could be called
"Madariaga" and if a house was built there, it received the same name as the place and those who were born in it, would be called Madariaga although centuries later the pear trees had disappeared
and now there were pines.

Speaking in Spanish, the language of the empire, when a secretary referred to one of the sons of the solar called Madariaga, he inscribed him as Juan, Pedro or José De Madariaga, that is, the preposition "De", remained attached to the surname.

The same could happen with some men from the village of Ocáriz (nowadays it appears as Okáriz when being subject to Basque spelling).

Okáriz is a village with about twenty houses located in the "Llanada Alavesa", very close to
the Basque capital, Vitoria. There is also a very similar toponym, "Okarizti" in Gipuzkoa, whose final part, "arizti", means clearly, "oak forest".

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• Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

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Author: Angus J. Huck
• Saturday, January 16th, 2016

I think it is time to take a critical look at some of the sacred cows of orthodox Vascology. By “sacred cow”, I mean a belief that has little evidential basis, but which is forcefully and obdurately defended out of loyalty to one’s group. Orthodox Vascology has a number of these. The one for today is Basque azeri “fox”, which orthodox Vascologists insist, despite the complete lack of evidence, is derived from an obscure anthroponym.

Bengtson provides a useful list of variants:

Bizkaian: azagari, azeri, azari, (arc) azebari, azeari, (Arratia, Orozko, Txorierri) azegari

Gipuzkoan: azeri, azari

High Navarrese: azeri, (Larraun) azari

Low Navarrese: hazeri, (Baigorri) azeri

Salazarese: axari

Lapurdian: hazeri, (Ainhoa) axari

Baztanese: azari

Zuberoan: axéri, exéri

Roncalese: axeri, axari

The orthodox understanding is that all the above derive from an anthroponym, Acenari (which is attested), presumably “miller”, or possibly Asinarius “donkey driver”.

Bengtson has made the following criticisms:

(1) (I quote him in full) Trask (1995, 1997) following Michelena (1961) derives this word from a personal name, Acenari. In this analysis that proposal is considered semantically and historically improbable, since nothing is known about the character or personality of the person designated as Acenari, that would lead to his name becoming the Bsq word for ‘fox’, as there is for the fictional Reynard > French renard.;

(2) None of the eastern nasalising dialects has reflexes that provide evidence of a former medial /n/. While that is suggestive of no ancient /n/, it is not conclusive.

(3) (I quote him in full) furthermore the diversity of the Bsq forms indicates ancient origin, thus, in this analysis, this ancient word comes from PSC *c(V)hwōlĕ́ ’fox’.

OK. A diversity of Basque forms does not necessarily indicate ancient origin, though it normally does. The PSC reflex, again, is suggestive. It is a perilous procedure to look at a time depth of 20,000+ years without first ascertaining what the word looked like at a time depth of 2,000 years.

So let’s do that, and prove that Michelena and Trask were talking codswallop.

The word appears twice in anthroponyms written in the Roman Script in the Central Pyrenees in the early Roman period:

CIL 13, 00095.

]alis / Arserris / Leherenn(o) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens)


CIL 13, 00074.

Severus Onas/seris fil(ius) et NI[3] / RESVMAILII[

A number of things to note:

(1) ARSERRI exhibits an intrusive /r/ before /s/. This may be an example of the same phonetic feature in eastern Basque dialects that puts an intrusive /r/ before sibilants in (SP) arska, (Az) arsto and (Oihenart) orsto.

(2) Many of these Central Pyrenean theonyms and anthroponyms are comprised of a zoonym followed by on “good”. In the case of ONASSERI, on is uncharacteristically pre-positioned.

(3) The Roman Script rarely attempts to represent sounds that do not exist in Latin. So the distinction between Iberian fortis and lenis /r/ is not indicated by the orthography.

The word also appears in at least one ancient toponym, which belongs somewhere in the Province of Huesca:


ASERESA (Congostellos) (1104-1134)

These are very likely the same place.

The intrusive /r/ appears to be present in the toponym, ARZERANA (Espinosa del Monte, Burgos), recorded in 1752 (which exhibits the Roman substitute suffix, -ana).

So there is no excuse for a silly folk etymology to explain Basque azeri “fox”. We can trace the word back 2,000 years, leaving open the possibility of a Dene-Caucasian etymology, which Bengtson has attempted to provide (and he could well be right).

How do we explain the Bizkaian four-part variants?

I suggest that gar “flame” was added to the word at some stage. Town foxes, the ones we see most often, are scavengers and have a matt coat. Country foxes, however, are carnivorous, are much more elusive, and have lustrous coats. So we can see how a country fox could be known as a “flaming fox”, in contradistinction to one that scavenged around human habitation.

Orthodox Vascology is both minimisationist and isolationist, leading to so-called internal reconstruction as the only methodology available to examine those parts of the lexicon that Vascologists are unable to attribute to borrowing. The results are a high incidence of error in postulating so-called proto-forms, and a proliferation of folk etymologies.

Angus J Huck

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• Sunday, November 01st, 2020

¿Euskera y paleosardo lenguas hermanas?

The hypothesis in which the work is framed is fundamentally indebted to the one put forward by Professor Eduardo Blasco Ferrer in his book Paleosardo. Le radici linguistiche della Sardegna neolithica (2010): that there was an important migration during the Mesolithic and Neolithic from Euskal Herria-Iberia to Sardinia, which provided the main population base of the island. Paleosardo, the name by which linguists refer to the language that was spoken on the island until its disappearance with the coming of Roman rule, would be related to Paleo-Basque. Traces of Basque can be found in the structure and in the lexicon of Sardinian Romance as well as in the toponymy of the island. Matching place names are found in both geographical areas. This is illustrated by a compilation of 350 place names where the municipality in which each typonym is located is also specified. The listing is accompanied by a map of Sardinia showing these place names. All of this material is based on a database of 4,500 place names possessing some presumably Basque root. Genetic studies are also provided that confirm affinities between both populations. In the chapter on conclusions, the aforementioned Mesolithic migration is pointed out as a probable cause, but without completely ruling out, for both Basque and Paleosardo, an eastern origin, dating from the Neolithic era. The work concludes by asking whether the two languages might not be the product of the fusion of both contributions, of Mesolithic migrants (hunter-gatherers) from Euskal Herria-Iberia, and of Neolithic migrants (cattle farmers) from the eastern Mediterranean.

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• Friday, February 22nd, 2019

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• Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

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• Sunday, February 17th, 2019



30 €

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• Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Angus J Huck in 12th congress of Euskeraren Jatorria (The Origins of the Basque)

Proposition: Basque descends from a family of languages that in prehistoric times were spoken in every region of Europe.

Question: What is the evidence?

Answer: The Pan-European Vasconic footprint.

What is the Pan-European Vasconic footprint and how is it manifested?

(1)  Written records. The only Vasconic language apart from Basque to have been a written medium is Iberian. Most of the surviving texts are in the East Iberian Script, and the majority of these are rolls of donors of grave goods.

(2)  Substrate loanwords. These are the words that speakers of Vasconic languages retained when they started speaking non-Vasconic languages. All Indo-European languages spoken in Europe contain Vasconic substrate loanwords. The largest concentration is probably to be found in Greek.

(3)  Onomastics. These are the anthroponyms (personal names) that survive in the record, and the toponyms (place names), potamonyms (river names) and oronyms (mountain names) that either survive in the record or are still extant.


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• Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

“Tracce della lingua basca in Sardegna?” Conferenza di Juan Martin Elexpuru

Il 20 aprile, alle ore 16:00

Università degli Studi di Roma Tre

Dipartimento di lingue, letterature e culture straniere – Aula 11

Via del Valco di S. Paolo, 19 – Indicazioni stradali

Lo scrittore e traduttore basco Juan Martin Elexpuru (Ubera-Bergara, Paesi Baschi, 1950), sarà ospite di ACE (Associazione Culturale Euskara) e del Programma di Studi Baschi in Italia – Euskal Saila, per tenere una conferenza con lo stesso titolo del suo libro, “Euskararen aztanak Sardinian?”(“Tracce della lingua basca in Sardegna?”), una lunga ricerca sulla toponomastica sarda dove si ipotizza la possibile vicinanza fra il basco e il paleosardo (lingua parlata nell’isola prima dell’arrivo dei romani).

La sua curiosità verso l’argomento ha avuto inizio nel 1985 con un viaggio in bicicletta sulle Alpi, dove si è ritrovato casualmente ad imbattersi con nomi di paesini del nord Italia che erano uguali, o molto simili, a nomi in lingua basca. Da quel momento ha cominciato a raccogliere i toponimi del Nord Italia che somigliavano di più al basco, facendo la conoscenza, nel 2009, di due importanti figure che lo indirizzeranno verso la Sardegna: il linguista valenciano Luis Silgo ed il linguista catalano dell’Università di Cagliari, Eduardo Blasco Ferrer che ricercava da anni i possibili legami fra il paleosardo e il basco, ricerca che pose delle basi importanti alla sua ipotesi.

Non era il primo a fare tali ipotesi comunque. Circa 100 anni fa, Vittorio Bertoldi aveva studiato l’ipotesi basco-paleosarda dando così il via ad altre ricerche.

Dal momento in cui Juan Martin Elexpuru conobbe Blasco Ferrer, iniziò ad interessarsi al tema, a ricercare e a studiarlo più approfonditamente.

I suoi tre viaggi più importanti in Sardegna, nel 2010, nel 2013 e l’ultimo nel 2015, lo hanno portato a raccogliere un’interessante bibliografia sull’argomento, ed anche alla creazione di materiale cartografico. Un corpus di più di 5000 termini, tra i quali varie tracce basche ritrovate in occasione di visite a musei e siti archeologici, ed inoltre molte fotografie di toponimi dell’isola, costituiscono il frutto di tale imponente lavoro di ricerca e documentazione. Di questo, e di altri dettagli delle sue ricerche, tratterà in “Tracce della lingua basca in Sardegna?”.

La conferenza, che si terrà il prossimo 20 aprile alle ore 16:00 presso l’Università degli Studi di Roma Tre – Dipartimento di lingue, letterature e culture straniere – Via del Valco di S. Paolo, 19 – presso Aula 11, sarà aperta a tutti gli interessati.

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• Friday, March 03rd, 2017
The Euskaro-Caucasian Hypothesis

I. History of the hypothesis
II. Description of the languages compared
III. Grammatical evidence for Euskaro-Caucasian (excerpts)
IV. Lexical evidence for Euskaro-Caucasian (excerpts)
V. Euskaro-Caucasian Phonological correspondences (excerpts)
VI. Chronology of Euskaro-Caucasian: a family about 9 millennia old
VII. Anthropological scenario of Euskaro-Caucasian: linguistics, archaeology, genetics
VIII. References

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