BASQUE PLACE NAMES IN AMERICA
AFRICA & THE PACIFIC
E. F. Legner
Many of the place names in America, Africa and the Pacific were constructed in a kind of shorthand using the Basque language or its precursors (Nyland 2001). It is believed that the individuals responsible for creating these names were ancient migrants from North Africa and during the Christian Era, Roman Catholic clerics. These people had a detailed knowledge of an ancient formula for constructing languages called the Vowel-Consonant-Vowel Formula (see VCV Dictionary). This formula was being used to increase the size of vocabularies since Neolithic times (see Saharan). The Benedictine clerics who were sent to spread Christianity through Europe beginning in the 6th Century had full knowledge of the formula (see Benedictines). Frequently they used clever innovations to add double meanings to words and sentences, for purposes that are not entirely understood.
The Roman Catholic church indeed had full knowledge of this formula and used it to create many of the modern European languages. However, it was not until the late 20th Century that the formula’s existence was brought to the public’s attention by Edo Nyland. He discovered that prior to Christian times there was a common language in use over most of Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia and in the Pacific that had its ancient origin in North Africa. He called it the Saharan Language and noted that modern Basque was most closely related to it. Nyland also found that the Roman Catholic clergy continued to use the ancient language into the 19th Century to create new words and place names wherever they happened to travel. The Basque/English dictionary written by Gorka Aulestia (1989) is a valuable source for the meanings of words of the ancient Saharan language.
While translating ancient inscriptions and place names, Nyland discovered the Basque origin of many of the names in America and throughout the Pacific that were commonly thought to be of European or native dialects. He noted that the name “America” did not originate with the Italian Amerigo Vespucci, but instead came from the Basque verb “amerikak egin”, which means, “to make a fortune.”
Following are some of the places that Nyland found with Basque roots in their names. The traditional meanings of these names are included when possible. For a complete discussion of how the translations were made please refer to Nyland (2001) and Etymological Dictionary.
To find Subject Matter Depress Ctrl/F:
[Also see World Place Names]
af.-.ri-ika, afa-ari-ika: afa (happy) arinari eman (to escape) ikaragarritasun (tragedy): "We are happy to have escaped the tragedy".
agi-igu-an., agindu (orders) igurika (to wait for) -an (inside): "Wait for orders on the island".
agiri-iha-an, agirian (obviously) ihar (arid) -an (inside): "The island is obviously arid".
Traditional Meaning = Tribal Town (Creek Indian)
Basque Meaning = The many opportunities fill us with joy.
Traditional Meanings= Object to which the action of the sea is directed. &/or An Aleut word for mainland.
Basque Meaning = Indescribable miracles.
Ailinglapalap (Marshall Islands)
ai-ili-ing.-.la-apa-ala-apo, ai (strong desire) ilinti (burning) ingiratu (to get ready) il (to die) apaiz (priest) alabear (fate) apokeria (human sacrifice): "I have a burning desire to get ready to die the priest's fate of a human sacrifice".
ameri-ika, ameriketak egin (to make a fortune) ikaragarri (enormous): "Make an enormous fortune".
Traditional Meanings = Silver Bearing & Place of the small spring (Papago)
Basque Meanings = An awfully icy wind here &/or One risks freezing here.
Traditional Meaning = An Indian tribal name
Basque Meaning = The heartbreaking deaths in the shocking civil war anger me.
American Samoa, USA
Traditional Meaning = Polynesian name.
Basque Meaning = Basque meaning not yet translated.
aur (child): "Child of Maloelap".
aus.-.tra-ali-iha, ausa-atra-ali-iha: ausarta (courageous) atrakatzaile (robber, convict) alizan (capable) ihaurri (to scatter, to go everywhere): "Courageous and capable convicts went everywhere"
.be-et. h.-.le-em., abe-ete he-ele-eme: abeletxe (stable) etenune (time of birth) hementxe (right here) ele (cattle) emekiro (peaceful): "The time of birth came right here in the stable between the peaceful cattle."
Bikar (Marshall Islands)
bika-ar., bika-arra, bikain (extraordinary) arrantza (fishing): "Extraordinarily good fishing".
.b.-.ra-azi-il., eba-ara-azi-il: ebasle (thief) arrapatu (to plunder) azienda (wealth) ilki (to leave): "The thieves plundered our wealth and then left".
Traditional Meaning = A mythical country named Califia &/or An invented name for an imaginary island.
Basque Meaning = The disgusting killing of a person by the quarrelling gold miners is frightening.
.ka-ana-ada, akabu (the far end) anaitu (to get together) ada (the noise of the last word): "At the far end we'll have a party".
Traditional Meaning = Carolina named in honor of England’s King Charles I.
Basque Meaning = no Basque found.
txa-ad., txa-adi: txankaldu (to divide the land into fields) adiskedigisa (in a friendly manner): "They divided the land into fields in a friendly manner".
Traditional Meaning = Spanish word for “red”
Basque Meaning = I adore the colors.
Traditional Meaning = Mohican and Algonquin Indian for “Place beside the river.”
Basque Meaning = Remember the wonderful blessings of productivity and tenacity when you visit our utopia.
Traditional Meaning = Amerindian name meaning “Alliance of friends.”
Basque Meaning = No Basque meaning.
Traditional Meaning = Believed to have been named after governor Thomas West, Lord de la Warr.
Basque Meaning = Spread the word of the Redeemer.
Ebon (Marshall Islands)
ebo-on., ebo-ondi, eboluzio (development) ondikotsu (unfortunate): "Unfortunate development".
egi-ip.-.t., egi-ipu-uto: egin (to create) ipuin (legend) utopia (utopia): "They created the legend of utopia".
Traditional Meaning = Spanish word for Pascua Florida &/or Flowery Place (for the flowering trees).
Basque Meaning = None found.
.ga-ali-ile, iga-ali-ile, igarle (prophet) alienatu (to kill a person) ileta (lament, mourning): "Lament for the killed prophet".
Traditional Meaning = Named for King George II of England.
Basque Meaning = None found.
Guam (Marianas) , USA
Traditional Meaning = Pacific Islander name.
Basque Meaning =.gu-am., agu-ama, agur (greetings) ama (mother): "Greetings for mother".
.gu-.gu-an, agu-agu-an, agur (good bye) agur (good bye) andana (people): "God buy, good buy people".
Traditional Meaning = Hawaiian word for homeland, “Owhyhee.”
Basque Meaning = This one is exhausting to reach.
ilo, ilobi (tomb, grave): "Site of the grave".
.hu-ud.-.so-on., uhu-udi-iso-ona, uhui (cry of happiness) udikan (to get out) isolamendu (isolation) (isolation) onargaitz (intolerable, hostile): "He cried for joy to get out of the hostile isolation".
Traditional Meaning = Amerindian “E Dah Hoe” or Gem of the Mountains.
Basque Meaning = An exaggerated description.
Traditional Meaning = Algonquin word for “warriors.” or “men and warriors.”
Basque Meaning = This quiet place possibly will do for a lifetime.
Traditional Meaning = Land of the Indians.
Basque Meaning = Our American brothers.
Traditional Meaning = Kiowa name.
Basque Meaning = Be warned about the thunderstorms.
je-eru-usa-ale-em., jentil (pagan) errukigabe (cruel) usadio (custom) alegia (fake) emankortasun (fertility):"Cruel pagan custom for fake fertility."
Traditional Meaning = Sioux Indian “South wind people”
Basque Meaning = The deaths in the shocking civil war anger me.
.ka-aula, akabu (the end, when we get there) aulagotu (to weaken): "When we got there we were weakened".
Traditional Meaning = Iroquois word “Ken-tah-ten” meaning Land of Tomorrow &/or Meadow Land
Basque Meaning = I explored that stony place and rejected it completely.
.ke-eni-iha, ike-eni-iha: ikertu (to pay a visit) eni (to me) ihardun (to spend time): "Pay a visit to me and spend some time".
Kwajalein (Marshall Islands)
.ku-aja-ale-in., aku-aja-ale-in., akuila (to urge on) ajaja (laughter) -ale (agent, cause) indar (strength): "Laughter urges on and creates strength".
.la-anai, ala-anai, alabear (fate) anai (brother): "The fate of my brother".
lai-izan, laino (foggy) izan (to be): "It is foggy".
Traditional Meaning = Named for King Louis XIV of France
Basque Meaning = None searched for.
Traditional Meaning = From mainland, changed to French province.
Basque Meaning = Cunningly neutral.
Maloelap (Marshall Islands)
ma-alo-ela-ap., maiburuko (guest speaker) alogerekotu (to be paid money) ela (story) apaindu (to embellish, to trump up): "The guest speaker was paid money to embellish the story".
Traditional Meaning = Named for Virgin Mary &/or Henrietta Maria, the wife of England’s King Charles I.
Basque Meaning = The many tall oak groves are reduced to ash.
Traditional Meaning = Algonquian word meaning “At the big hills” or “A large hill place.”
Basque Meaning = Our task is to bring about statehood, tilling of the soil, harvesting the abundance and to do subdivision.
.ma-ug., ama-uga, ama (mother) ugalkor (prolific): "Prolific mother".
.ma-uhi, ema-uhi, eman (to beat repeatedly) uhin (wave): "Constantly beaten by waves".
Traditional Meaning = Amerincian word “meieigama” meaning “Great Water.” &/or Algonquian word meaning “Forest clearing.”
Basque Meaning = The military had to leave because of the unpredictable food supply.
Traditional Meaning = Sioux Indian word for “Sky-tinted water.” &/or “Cloudy water.”
Basque Meaning = It is marvelous anywhere in these exotic wild hills.
Traditional Meaning = Chippewa Indian words “mici zibi” meaning “Great river.”
Basque Meaning = To my unspeakable horror he fell into the very deep torrential rain like into the legendary whirlpool.
Traditional Meaning = Amerindian name meaning “Town of the large canoes” &/or Algonquian for “Muddy River.”
Basque Meaning = Hide from this miserable torrential rain which keeps falling down.
Traditional Meaning = Spanish word for “Mountainous.”
Basque Meaning = I loved it among those pastures in the wonderful wild mountains.
Traditional Meaning = Oto or Sioux Indian word for “Flat water” [= Platte River].
Basque Meaning = Happily the evangelist comes here to begin his teachings.
Traditional Meaning = Spanish for “Snowy.”
Basque Meaning = Nowhere is firewood to be cut.
New Hampshire, USA
Traditional Meaning = Named by John Mason who hailed from Hampshire county, England.
Basque Meaning = None searched for.
New Jersey, USA
Traditional Meaning = Named by Sir George Carterer after his home island.
Basque Meaning = None searched for.
New Mexico, USA
Traditional Meaning = named after Mexico.
Basque Meaning for Mexico = Gently we introduce elementary teachings.
New York, USA
Traditional Meaning = Named after the Duke of York, brother of Charles II.
Basque Meaning = Always caring and stimulating.
oa-ahu, oaratu (in heat) ahuntz (female goat): "Female goat in heat".
Traditional Meaning = Iroquois word for “Good river.”
Basque Meaning = Get used to the thunderstorms.
Traditional Meaning = Choctaw word for “Red man.”
Basque Meaning = Her entire lifetime grandma was giving advice.
ke-ebe-ek., ke-ebe-eku: kementze (act of encouraging) ebertar (the Hebrew, Christ) ekurutasun (peace of mind): "Christ encourages peace of mind".
.ro-ota, arro-ota, arro (proud) otargile (basket maker): "Proud basket maker".
Rhode Island, USA
Traditional Meaning = Named for Greek Island of Rhodos &/or by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, “Rhoode Eylandt.”
Basque Meaning = Awful thunder clouds.
.sa-aha-ara, iza-aha-ara, izadi (nature, character) ahalguzti (Almighty) aratz (pure): "The Omnipotent's character is pure". The previous translation has been: zahar (old): "The Old Country?” This is not likely.
sai-aipa, saiaketa (attempt) aipatu (famous for): "Famous for attempt".
.se-ene-ega-al., ase-ene-ega-ala: asezin (insatiable craving) enegan (within me) egape (shelter, home) alai aldi (happiness): "Within me there is an insatiable craving for a home and happiness".
Taka (Marshall Islands)
taka, takada (Gentle push): "Give me a gentle push".
Traditional Meaning = Cherokee Indian villages called “Tanasi.”
Basque Meaning = The blessed one who knows will nourish and protect the afflicted; so pay attention.
Traditional Meaning = Indian tribal name, “Tejas.”
Basque Meaning = Seek shelter from the many frightening storms.
Traditional Meaning = Ute Indian name meaning “People of the mountains.”
Basque Meaning = They left their kinship behind.
uga-anda, ugaldu (to grow a crop) andanaka (in large quantities):"They grow crops in large quantities".
Utirik (Marshall Islands)
uti-iri-ik.: utikan (go away) irrikatu (to desire vehemently) ikara (terror): "I desire vehemently to get away from the terror".
Traditional Meaning = French “verts monts,” meaning “Green Mountains”
Basque Meaning = We improve the wilderness and give thanks for nature’s blessings.
Traditional Meaning = Named for England’s “Virgin Queen, “ Elizabeth I.
Basque Meaning = The digging of the canal bed was accomplished by the engineer’s expertise.
Traditional Meaning = A personal name from England
Basque Meaning = Well spoken of person with a carefree disposition who laughs a lot.
Wake Island, USA
ake, akela (priestess): "Home of) the priestess".
Traditional Meaning = Chippewa word “Ouisconsin,” meaning “Grassy place.” &/or Algonquian for “Long river.”
Basque Meaning = During the torrential rain we hid from the thunder, safe and sound, in a stable.
Wott (Marshall Islands)
ot., ota, otalur (land covered with furze): "Island covered with furze (Leguminosae)".
Traditional Meaning = Algonquin or Delaware word meaning “Large prairie” or “Broad plains.”
Basque Meaning = The thunder is drawing near from all around.
Traditional Meaning = Not clear (early map shows “Ouaicon-sint.”
Basque Meaning = So many wonderful opportunities.
.pa-aga-an., opa-aga-ana, opari (sacrifice) -aga (abundance of) anaigo (group of worshippers): "Group of worshippers with an abundance of sacrifice".
Papua (New Guinea)
apapua (living in poverty): "They live in poverty".
Traditional Meaning = Named for Admiral William Penn and “sylvan” meaning woodland.
Basque Meaning = Pena/pen in Basque means suffering.
.pe-eru, ape-eru: apez (priest) errukigabe (cruel): "The priests are cruel".
Puerto Rico, USA
Traditional Meaning = Spanish for “Rich port.”
Basque Meaning = No Basque searched for.
For further detail, please refer to:
Nyland, Edo. 2001. Linguistic Archaeology: An
Introduction. Trafford Publ., Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Nyland, Edo. 2002. Odysseus and the Sea Peoples: A
Bronze Age History of Scotland Trafford Publ., Victoria,