Names

27 11 2009

I´ve already mentioned that in the Basque Country, Navarra and Basque French Country (complicated, uh!) there are three languages spoken, Spanish, French and Basque (by number of speakers). And that many official signs are written in both languages (Basque and Spanish or Basque and French). Now I´ll deal with people´s names…

Traditional names in the Basque Country were very common in the past: Jesús, María, José, Antonio, Francisco, Ángel, Ángeles, Piedad, …Yes, many people are called Jesus in Spain (without any religious connotation)!! And what´s more, they are called in many cases Jesús María (for a man) or María Jesús (for a woman). Or José María (man) or María José (woman). The custom was to put the name of the saint of the day to the newborn, or a biblical name. By the way, those called José are called Pepe (coming from P.P., short for Padre Putativo, a father that really isn´t), those called Jesus Maria are called Chusma or Jesusmari…Spanish names have a lot of “diminutive” alternatives.

In the 80´s there was a strong current in favour of “Basque” names, based on Basque mithology or nature. Hence, we got many “Aitor” (father of the Basques), “Amaia” (the mother”, Garikoitz, Aritz (oak), Harri (stone), Eder (pretty), Garazi (special), Gorka (translation for George), Ibai (river), Odei (cloud), Ainara (sparrow), ( Oihane (scream), Irati (a virgin and a forest),…These names have nothing to do with Spanish ones and are a clear sign of the origin (and some times, of the political views) of the person.

As every action produces a counter-reaction, in the past few years there´s again a return to the “old” and “classic” names, like Pablo (Paul), Lucía, Ana, María, Jorge, Paula,…

Basque surnames are also different. In many cases, they show the place of origin of the person. Etxebarria (or Echevarria) means “New House”, Madariaga (Place with Pear Trees), Ibarra (Valley), Urrunaga (Far Away Place), Arizmendi (Oak Mountain), etc. There are very long Basque surnames, with long meanings (Agirregomezkorta, Atxalandabaso, Aguinagalde, Uriberrementeria, Bedialauneta, Ocerinjauregui,…). An interesting place to visit and see the extraordinary long names in the tombs is the Markina cemetery, beautiful area and beautiful cemetery.

Last, in Spain we always use two surnames, the father´s first and then the mother´s. For example, a girl named Ainhoa, with a mother Ana García and a father David Zubizarreta, is named Ainhoa Zubizarreta García. Women don´t lose their maiden´s name when they marry. Now you can put the mother´s name first (as they do in Portugal, where they say that you always know who is the mother, but not so sure about the father…it makes sense!)

 

 


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One response

5 02 2010
Iñigo

Great!

But Txoko’s legend is a myth, it is plenty of grandmams…
What a whopper!

Un abrazo

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