September 1, 2012

Some critical Basque linguistics

Zakurra (Great Pyrenean dog)
Just a quick note to mention these two papers (in Spanish language) that philologist Roslyn Frank has made available these days, criticizing some aspects of the claims that the manipulative power-monger Basque academic Joseba Lakarra pretends to pass as canon.

The papers are in Spanish but with an English introduction available at Dr. Frank's account at Academia.edu (contrary to what I used to believe, you don't seem to need an account to access in fact: I just did without being logged in without any problem).


Reviewing Joseba Lakarra


The first paper is titled: Repasando a Joseba Lakarra: Observaciones sobre algunas etimologías en euskera a partir de un acercamiento más cognitivo (Reviewing Joseba Lakarra: Considerations on some etymologies in Basque language beginning from a more cognitive approach ··> direct PDF link) deals with terms like hatzaparra (claw, paw) or gai (able in all English usages but also substance, matter) and has the following introduction:

Abstract:

Over the past decade the Basque philologist Joseba Lakarra has published a series of articles in which he puts forward his reconstruction of an entity he calls Pre-Proto-Basque, whose exact referential time frame is still quite unclear. In these articles a large number of new etymologies are introduced along with a particular kind of methodology and theoretical basis for investigating them. While the material published by Lakarra is readily available on the web, there has been little critical discussion of its merits. The present study is an attempt to remedy this situation and at the same time to bring into focus the value of applying a more principled approach to the Basque data, one that derives it methodological and theoretical orientation from the field of cognitive linguistics, and more concretely from the emerging subfield of cultural linguistics, also known as ethnolinguistics.

In a broad sense, the term cultural linguistics refers to linguistic research that explores the relationship between language and culture, bringing the sociocultural embedding and entrenchment of language into view and consequently charting the interactions of speakers of the language with their ever changing environment, the latter understood in the amplest sense of the term. Thus, cultural linguistics has a diachronic dimension as it attempts to understand language as a subsystem of culture and to examine how various language features reflect and embody culture over time. ‘Culture’ here is meant in the anthropological sense; that is, as a system of collective beliefs, worldviews, customs, traditions, social practices, as well as the values and norms shared by the members of the cultural group.

Until very recently, there has been a dearth of research on the Basque language and culture that embraces the methodological and theoretical premises of the field of cognitive linguistics and the related sub-discipline of cultural linguistics. Outstanding exceptions have been the investigations carried out by Iraide Ibarretxe Antuñano (1). In short, very little research has been done on Euskera which takes into consideration the fact that the relationship between language and culture has significant implications for diachronic studies of the language: that language is a not only a system firmly grounded in culture, it is a macro-level system that through the individual choices of its agents at the micro-level, changes across time, dynamically. It functions therefore as a complex adaptive system (CAS) (2).
This article is the first in a series in which the methodology and theoretical approaches utilized by Lakarra to develop his etymologies are examined and contrasted with the more cognitively oriented approaches operating today to structure research in cultural linguistics. I argue that these approaches can bring new insights into the role of human cognition and individual speaker choices, most especially when applied to diachronic studies of the Basque language (3).

(1) Cf. http://unizar.academia.edu/IraideIbarretxeAntu%C3%B1ano.

(2) For further reading on the application of theoretical model of language as a complex adaptive system, cf. Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier. 2010. On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics (HCL): Some theoretical considerations. In: Heli Tissari, Paivi Koivisto-Alanko, Kathyren I. Allan y Margaret Winter (eds.), Historical Cognitive Linguistics, 31-69. Berlin y New York: Mouton de Gruyter. http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/446528/On_constructing_a_research_model_for_historical_cognitive_linguistics_HCL_Some_theoretical_considerations.

(3) There are other papers available on Academia.edu which explore the application of this CAS approach to the Basque language as well as to other European languages. These papers, especially when read in the following order, also provide an overview of the possible significance of such studies for the recuperation of aspects of European cultural and linguistic (pre-)history and identity which have not been detected previously:

a) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/344519/The_language-organism-species_analogy_A_complex_adaptive_systems_approach_to_shifting_perspectives_on_language_ ;

b) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/355424/Shifting_Identities_Metaphors_of_discourse_evolution ;

c) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/471942/A_single_document_containing_three_published_articles_1_Recovering_European_ritual_bear_hunts_A_comparative_study_of_Basque_and_Sardinian_ursine_carnival_performances_2_Evidence_in_Favor_of_the_Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_PCRT_Hamalau_and_its_linguistic_and_cultural_relatives_Part_1_3_Evidence_in_Favor_of_the_Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_PCRT_Hamalau_and_its_linguistic_and_cultural_relatives_Part._2._ ;

d) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/471751/Shifting_identities_A_comparative_study_of_Basque_and_Western_cultural_conceptualizations ;
e) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/1193145/Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_A_New_Approach_to_the_Linguistic_Prehistory_of_Europe._Azken_Glaziazio_Handiko_Babeslekua_eta_Euskara._Bergara_2011-10-19

f) And then most particularly the later sections of these papers where the etymologies of the terms beguine and charivari are subjected to a diachronic analysis with respect to their cultural and linguistic entrenchment: http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/462898/Euskal_Herriko_Eginkizun_Erligiosoaren_Inguruko_Azterketa_Diakronikoa_Serora_eta_bere_laguntzaileak. (English language translation: A Diachronic Analysis of the Religious Role of the Woman in Basque Culture: The Serora and her Helpers: http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/462178/A_Diachronic_Analysis_of_the_Religious_Role_of_the_Woman_in_Basque_Culture_The_Serora_and_her_Helpers); and 2) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/451548/Singing_Duels_and_Social_Solidarity_The_Case_of_the_Basque_Charivari


All you ever wanted to know about Basque and Pyrenean dogs (txakur, zakur)


The second paper is titled Dos etimologías vascas: Txakur ‘perrito, perro’ y zakur ‘perro’ con un apéndice dedicado al análisis de la etimología de zakur de J. Lakarra (Two Basque etymologies: Txakur 'doggy, dog' and zakur 'dog' with an appendix dedicated to the etymology of zakur by J. Lakarra ··> direct PDF link) and will teach you all you ever wanted to know about Basque and Pyrenean dogs, not just linguistically.

Abstract:

The following article explores the etymology of the Basque word zakur ‘dog’ and the palatalized form of the same txakur, often used today to refer to small dogs and dogs in a generic sense. Particular attention is paid to the question of the relationship between the latter term and Romance forms such as cacharro ‘puppy, young dog’. The study also examines the problems that arise from etymologies put forward in the past including the most recent one of the Basque philologist Joseba Lakarra, who derives the term zakur from a compound form that, according to him, originally meant ‘guardian agazapado’, i.e., ‘crouching guardian’.

Over the past decade Lakarra has published a series of articles in which he puts forward his reconstruction of an entity he calls Pre-Proto-Basque, whose exact referential time frame is still rather unclear. In these articles a large number of new etymologies are introduced, including the one he dedicates to zakur, along with a particular kind of methodology and theoretical basis for investigating them. While the material published by Lakarra is readily available on the web, there has been little critical discussion of its merits. The present study is an attempt to remedy this situation by examining in detail the etymology of the term zakur and by doing so, to bring into focus the value of applying a more principled approach to the Basque data, one that derives it methodological and theoretical orientation from the field of cognitive linguistics, and more concretely from the emerging subfield of cultural linguistics.

In a broad sense, the term cultural linguistics refers to linguistic research that explores the relationship between language and culture, bringing the sociocultural embedding and entrenchment of language into view and consequently charting the interactions of speakers of the language with their ever changing environment, the latter understood in the amplest sense of the term. Thus, cultural linguistics has a diachronic dimension as it attempts to understand language as a subsystem of culture and to examine how various language features reflect and embody culture over time. ‘Culture’ here is meant in the anthropological sense; that is, as a system of collective beliefs, worldviews, customs, traditions, social practices, as well as the values and norms shared by the members of the cultural group.

Until very recently, there has been a dearth of research on the Basque language and culture that embraces the methodological and theoretical premises of the field of cognitive linguistics and the related sub-discipline of cultural linguistics. Outstanding exceptions have been the investigations carried out by Iraide Ibarretxe Antuñano (1). In short, very little research has been done on Euskera which takes into consideration the fact that the relationship between language and culture has significant implications for diachronic studies of the language: that language is a not only a system firmly grounded in culture, it is a macro-level system that through the individual choices of its agents at the micro-level, changes across time, dynamically. It functions therefore as a complex adaptive system (CAS) (2).
This article is the second (3) in a series in which the methodology and theoretical approaches utilized by Lakarra to develop his etymologies will be examined and contrasted with the more cognitively oriented approaches operating today to structure research in cultural linguistics. I argue that these approaches can bring new insights into the role of human cognition and individual speaker choices, most especially when applied to diachronic studies of the Basque language (4).

(1) Cf. http://unizar.academia.edu/IraideIbarretxeAntu%C3%B1ano.

(2) For further reading on the application of theoretical model of language as a complex adaptive system, cf. Roslyn M. Frank and Nathalie Gontier. 2010. On constructing a research model for historical cognitive linguistics (HCL): Some theoretical considerations. In: Heli Tissari, Paivi Koivisto-Alanko, Kathyren I. Allan y Margaret Winter (eds.), Historical Cognitive Linguistics, 31-69. Berlin y New York: Mouton de Gruyter. http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/446528/On_constructing_a_research_model_for_historical_cognitive_linguistics_HCL_Some_theoretical_considerations.

(3) The first paper in the series, “Repasando a Joseba Lakarra: Observaciones sobre algunas etimologías en euskera a partir de un acercamiento más cognitivo”, is now available online: http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/1895187/Repasando_a_Joseba_Lakarra_Observaciones_sobre_algunas_etimologias_en_euskera_a_partir_de_un_acercamiento_mas_cognitivo.

(4) There are other papers available on Academia.edu which explore the application of this CAS approach to the Basque language as well as to other European languages. These papers, especially when read in the following order, also provide an overview of the possible significance of such studies for the recuperation of aspects of European cultural and linguistic (pre-)history and identity which have not been detected previously:

a) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/344519/The_language-organism-species_analogy_A_complex_adaptive_systems_approach_to_shifting_perspectives_on_language_;

b) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/355424/Shifting_Identities_Metaphors_of_discourse_evolution; ;

c) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/471942/A_single_document_containing_three_published_articles_1_Recovering_European_ritual_bear_hunts_A_comparative_study_of_Basque_and_Sardinian_ursine_carnival_performances_2_Evidence_in_Favor_of_the_Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_PCRT_Hamalau_and_its_linguistic_and_cultural_relatives_Part_1_3_Evidence_in_Favor_of_the_Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_PCRT_Hamalau_and_its_linguistic_and_cultural_relatives_Part._2._;

d) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/471751/Shifting_identities_A_comparative_study_of_Basque_and_Western_cultural_conceptualizations;

e) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/1193145/Palaeolithic_Continuity_Refugium_Theory_A_New_Approach_to_the_Linguistic_Prehistory_of_Europe._Azken_Glaziazio_Handiko_Babeslekua_eta_Euskara._Bergara_2011-10-19;

f) And then most particularly the later sections of these papers where the etymologies of the terms beguine and charivari are subjected to a diachronic analysis with respect to their cultural and linguistic entrenchment: http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/462898/Euskal_Herriko_Eginkizun_Erligiosoaren_Inguruko_Azterketa_Diakronikoa_Serora_eta_bere_laguntzaileak. (English translation: A Diachronic Analysis of the Religious Role of the Woman in Basque Culture: The Serora and her Helpers: http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/462178/A_Diachronic_Analysis_of_the_Religious_Role_of_the_Woman_in_Basque_Culture_The_Serora_and_her_Helpers); and 2) http://uiowa.academia.edu/RoslynMFrank/Papers/451548/Singing_Duels_and_Social_Solidarity_The_Case_of_the_Basque_Charivari.


For some reason the papers themselves are not available in English but I think they are important enough to mention here.

1 comment:

  1. Read Frank's paper cited as 4(c) above, comparing Basque and Sardinian linguistic and cultural parallels. Her arguments strongly reinforce the genetic links found in your posting above: "Italian and Sardinian autosomal genetics", re: the paper by Cornelia di Gaetano et al.

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