Basque/basque (fwd)

Ruth Barton mrgjb at SOVER.NET
Tue May 21 05:33:19 UTC 2002

Bahsk sounds downright Bostonian to me.  Ruth

>---------- Forwarded Message ----------
>Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 4:08 pm +0100
>From: Larry Trask <larryt at>
>To: Lynne Murphy <lynnem at>
>Subject: Re: Basque/basque
>> Hi Larry,
>> I've always said 'Basque' with a back vowel, but now I find that US
>> dictionaries and US colleagues have it with an /ae/ (like 'bask').  How
>> is it pronounced by anglophonic Basque scholars on either side of the
>> pond?
>Depends.  I've always said 'bahsk', with a back vowel, because the name
>counts for me as a foreign word, and in foreign words <a> spells /ah/, as
>in 'pasta' and 'Vietnam'.  But most Yanks, including Vasconists, say
>'bask', rhyming with my surname.
>Brits vary considerably. The Brits absolutely lack my American rule of
>foreign <a> = /ah/, but they have their bath-broadening to worry about.
>They can't decide whether to apply bath-broadening or not, and both
>pronunciations are frequent.  John Wells recommends 'bask', but accepts
>'bahsk' as less preferred standard.
>So, I say 'bahsk' but 'Trask', not rhyming.  When I was a grad student in
>London, my supervisor said 'bask' but called me 'Trahsk', also not rhyming.
>Professor Robins said 'bahsk' and 'Trahsk', rhyming, and he sadly never
>tired of his little pun 'Trahsk the bahsk'.  Most Yanks say 'bask' and
>'Trask', rhyming, but they avoid the feeble pun.
>Larry Trask
>University of Sussex
>Brighton BN1 9QH
Ruth Barton
mrgjb at
Westminster, VT

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