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The Basque Language

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1276093.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:54 am Reply with quote

Hi All,

I was at a live recording of the show yesterday and was allowed to ask a researcher/elf a question. I asked "What is the only word from the Basque language is still in use in the English language today?" Arguably this could have been Anchovy, but my answer was Bizarre. I was then told I was wrong and was shot down by the host Sandy in front of 500 people. It actually turns out she was wrong ( How do i contact a researcher to let them know?


1276096.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:19 am Reply with quote

You pretty much just have by posting here!

Stick around, you seem to have QI things to say!

1276097.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:24 am Reply with quote

Please allow me to kick the nearest researcher's arse for you, James!

The words anchovy and bizarre are both generally accepted as having come into English from Basque. The research team know this because I - wearing my hat as "Languages Elf (Part Time)" - told them so seven years ago. In both cases alternative Romance etymologies have been posited, but in both cases the Basque etymology is generally preferred.

These may be the only two English words derived from Basque, although there is a contentious third in the form of jingo. You might hear someone like Donald Trump or Nigel Farage described as jingoistic, and in days gone by you might have heard by Jingo! as an exclamation with similar meaning to OMG!.

We don't really know where this jingo came from, but the Basque word for God is Jinko. It's an entirely plausible etymology and we don't have a better one, but there is no real evidence for it.

The word Basque itself is Spanish, not Basque. The lingerie item called a basque was first called so in French, partly because it looked (a liitle bit) like traditional Basque costume, and partly because the French considered it just a little bit louche as they also considered the Basque people.

1276098.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:25 am Reply with quote

Oh, nice one, thanks! I will do, hopefully we can go to a few more live recordings as well!


1276099.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:27 am Reply with quote

Thanks for the response, much appreciated. It's certainly interesting to find out where words originate from.


1276103.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:03 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
the French considered it just a little bit louche as they also considered the Basque people.

Louche? Un peu risqué perhaps. Basque language est oh là là! :-)

1276120.  Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:24 am Reply with quote

The French reckoned that Basque girls were easy, basically. Basque women wore short skirts, tight tunics, and earrings, none of which were considered quite proper in polite French society of the time.

DVD Smith
1276398.  Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:37 am Reply with quote

I was at the same recording, and I'm pretty sure Sandi thought you said "bazaar", since she replied that it wasn't Basque but in fact an Arabic word (technically from Ottoman Turkish, which is a derivative of Arabic).

So both of you were correct for different reasons. The joy of homophones :)

Very funny recording by the way, Alan was sharing a lot of embarrassing secrets and I'm curious to see how many of them make it into the final edit!


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