Basque/basque (fwd)

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Wed Apr 17 16:10:45 UTC 2002

Ok, I asked my colleague, Larry Trask (who works on Basque) about this, and
attach his response below.  Larry and I are apparently weird, and perhaps
it has nothing to do with the fact that we're from reasonably close to each

If I'd known how often I'd be called 'affected' this afternoon, I would've
never asked the question.  How depressing!  Honestly, until I heard it
pronounced that way, it never occurred to me that one could pronounce it
like 'bask'.


---------- 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

larryt at

Tel: (01273)-678693 (from UK); +44-1273-678693 (from abroad)
Fax: (01273)-671320 (from UK); +44-1273-671320 (from abroad)

---------- End Forwarded Message ----------

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
Acting Director, MA in Applied Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

More information about the Ads-l mailing list