Basque words in other languages

Has Basque influenced any major foreign languages?

Donostia / San Sebastian is visited by people from all over the world, who also have some exotic languages for us to listen to. The Basque language (Euskera in Basque) has borrowed a few words from these languages, such as, for example, Internet, WiFi etc. But is the reverse true? Has Basque influenced any major foreign languages?

posta euskara 1Sunset from the Sagüés wall, Zurriola beach

Words have always travelled from one language to another. Latin, for example, conquered words from all the territories governed by Rome, and spread them throughout the empire. Nowadays, many of the world's languages borrow words, and they become part of many other languages. We take up words from English, French and Spanish ... but we also take them from Japanese and Chinese, which are exotic languages to us. This word exchange also includes some words in Euskera that have become part of other languages. Want to know what these words are?

1612 StoTomasSS 028jCooking chistorra at the St Thomas fair, December 21

- Chatarra or scrap metal comes from zatar in Basque, which actually means “old fabric”. This probably meant that in Spanish it came to mean "anything that can be thrown away".

- Chistorra comes from txistor in Basque, meaning longaniza sausage.

- Cococha, also written as kokotxa, comes from the word kokots, which really means part of the fish's chin.

- Izquierda or "left" was borrowed for the word for "left" in Basque, ezker.

- Órdago is a term used in the card game "mus", and it comes from the phrase in Euskera “hor dago” ("there it is", meaning a huge challenge).

posta euskara 2Pottoka

French has borrowed very few words from Euskera, but...

there has been a recent increase in the number of words relating to Basque Country topics, because necessarily some words in Euskera find their way in, such as abertzale, ikastola, pelotari, chacoli... [i.e. nationalist, Basque-language school, pelota player, txakoli wine].

There are also a few terms which are not so well known:

- Orignal, the term used for a Canadian moose, comes from the word for reindeer in Basque, orein.

- Pottok, from the Basque term pottoka, is a small Basque horse.

- Axoa is typical Lapurdi fare, beef and vegetables.

- Piperrade also comes from another Basque recipe with peppers.

There are also words of Basque origin such as silhouette, which has travelled to many other languages from French, thanks to Étienne de Silhouette, originally from the Ziloeta house in Biarritz. Also, the process known as the daguerreotype was created by the inventor of Basque origin Louis Daguerre.

posta euskara 3"Jai-Alai" 

English also has a few words of Basque origin:

- bilbo: this is a type of sword mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet.

- by jingo (jingoism): it is thought that this old expression came from the word "jainko" (god) in Basque.

- Jai Alai: this was created as a reference to Basque pelota players' "cesta punta" basket glove, and the phrase was apparently coined by Serafin Baroja as a play on “High Life”. The expression has become very common in the United States thanks to its "frontón" pelota