EuskoSare > Communities > Ikertzaileak > EHMG > Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi VII > Viola Miglio and Ricardo Etxepare - "A new Basque - Icelandic glossary of the 17th century."
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2010-09-21 02:00

Viola Miglio and Ricardo Etxepare - "A new Basque - Icelandic glossary of the 17th century."

Viola Miglio of University California Santa Barbara spoke on the discovery and interpretation of a new, fourth Icealandic glossary.  The 4th Icelandic Glossary, discovered in a library in Harvard, is unique in its subject matter and grammar, thus, until recently, it was not identified as an Icelandic Glossary.

There was a long precedent for Basque interaction in Iceland as a result of heavy Basque whaling activity.  The first three glossaries were written by Icelanders who did not speak Basque.  They were essentially Basque word lists with some sentences in a pidgin.  Pragmatic in their purpose, they were designed to facilitate interaction and trade between the agrarian Icelanders and the sea-faring Basques.  Phrases such as “presenta for mi berrua usnia eta berria bura” (translated as ‘give me hot milk and fresh butter’) were, generally, direct and action-oriented.  Though, there did appear to be a cultural interest, as indicated by references to deities and non-sensical verse.

The Fourth Icelandic glossary, however, was much different in content.  The manuscript took so long to be identified because the original owner could not identify it as Basque.  In addition, the manuscript was either heavily pidginized, or there is some unique dialogue being relayed.  The content of the Fourth Glossary is also heavily cabalistic and concerned with practical magic, or Materia Medica.  For instance, there is a recipe on how to find lost/stolen goods.


Beyond linguistics, the glossary is important in that it describes a cultural interaction between two cultures who do not share a common language, but share common needs and a curiosity for the unique cultures with which they interact.