Wentworth Webster an Hugo Schuchardt (32-012672)

von Wentworth Webster

an Hugo Schuchardt


09. 11. 1892

language Englisch

Schlagwörter: The Academylanguage Baskischlanguage Englischlanguage Walisischlanguage Semitische Sprachen Vinson, Julien Abbadie, Antoine d' Dodgson, Edward Spencer Thomas, Llewelyn Rhys, John Sare Saint-Jean-de-Luz Ägypten Pau Baskenland Schuchardt, Hugo (1892) Dodgson, Edward Spencer (1857-1922) (1982) Dodgson, Edward Spencer (1892) Dodgson, Edward Spencer (1892) Dodgson, Edward Spencer (1911) Thomas, Llewelyn (1894) Webster, Wentworth ([o. J.]) Schuchardt, Hugo (1912)

Zitiervorschlag: Wentworth Webster an Hugo Schuchardt (32-012672). Sare, 09. 11. 1892. Hrsg. von Bernhard Hurch und Patricio Urkizu (2022). In: Bernhard Hurch (Hrsg.): Hugo Schuchardt Archiv. Online unter https://gams.uni-graz.at/o:hsa.letter.10742, abgerufen am 30. 09. 2023. Handle: hdl.handle.net/11471/518.10.1.10742.


Maison Crespo
Par St. Jean de Luz
9 Nov. 1892

Dear Dr. Herr Professor,

I thank you warmly for sending me your valuable review of Prof. Claudio Giacomino Delle relazioni tra il Bas[c]o e l’antico egizio.1 Like so many other beginners in Basque he seems to have great difficulty in seeing how very much of the Basque vocabulary is borrowed; all this you have put excellently.

Some months ago, when reading some newspaper report of Mr. Petrie’s explorations in the Fayoum ( Egypt), I was struck with the likeness of some of the place-names to the Basque, but I did not write them down, & the only one that I remember is that of a cemetery Illahun.

The Congrès of the Association Française at Pau produced nothing at all new on the Basque. The only discussion on the language was a paper by M. le Chanoine Inchauspe, which was replied to by Prof. Vinson. M. Cartailhac, & some medical Doctor spoke |2| on the Basque skulls, but as they had not taken any measurements, it was merely a statement of opininons & not of facts. The fêtes in honour of M. d’Abbadie, at St Jean de Luz, were very well arranged, and would have been a great success had not the bad weather spoiled two of the principal things, the Pastorale, & the Mascarade. The players all did their part well as far as the weather allowed them.2

Our friend M. Dodgson has been wandering about the Basque country this summer. He has attained a great colloquial mastery of the Basque, and can now converse, with the peasants somewhat easily. He tells me that he constantly finds older forms than any that appear in the printed Basque, & also fuller forms of common words which show at once their real composition & derivation. It is such a pity that he cannot make use of what |3| he knows; for his memory for words is extraordinary and he has certainly the gift of quickly acquiring a language. If he would but let himself be directed he could do a great deal of good. He is I believe engaged on a second supplement to Vinson’s Bibliographie, and he has hunted up a good many small publications in the Provincias Vascongadas.3 He has also been busy on a translation of the Pastorale Ste Helène into English, which seems to me a useless piece of work.4 He says that he finds verbal forms there which are not in the Grammars.

I am quite too deaf now to do any thing more in Basque; we have in this house, in Maison Crespo, (the next house to M. Mendiburu’s) an old Spanish-Basque woman, Navarraise, who knows nothing but Basque, and seems the have an immense collection of Folk-lore Tales & Legends in her memory; but I cannot take |4| them down. There was a RevdLlewellyn Thomas at Biarritz this summer, who made some study of Basque.5 He told me that he could not detect the slightest relation between Basque & Welsh, either in Grammar or Vocabulary, as far as he had gone. Prof. J. Rhys did not come here this summer. He promises me one visit for next April.

I copy out for you a letter which M. d’Abbadie wrote to me more than twenty years ago on the relations between Basque & the Hamitic tongues. I think I have showed it to you before; but as the subject has turned up again, you may be glad to see it again. There is a curious discussion going on now in The Academy between Dr Murray & M. Tylor on La Couvade, a philologist, and an anthropologist;6 the latter I think has the best of it at present. Ms Webster joins in kind regards.

I trust that you & your mother are well.
Yours very truly.

Wentworth Webster


Extracts from a letter from M. Antoine d’Abbadie, of The Institut. Abbadia, Nov 27. 1871

“As to my philological theories I have not published them yet, & consider that they are rather irrelevant in your paper. But you are the best judge & I therefore submit the following remarks.

Botanists very properly give ‘seriatim’ the character of their families. Philologist seem to avoid that lucid way, wrongly as I think. I have had much trouble in getting those of the Semitic family, by private correspondance. The Turanian family (?) which I reject as such is defined as follows by Brace, (The Races of the Old World. New York 1863) : 1. Ensemble of characters not found elswhere. (This is mere hotch-potch.) 2. Agglomeration. 3. facility for introducing new forms. 4. absence of irregularity in forms. 5. Rapid divergence of dialects. 6. Euphonism i.e. Harmony of vowels, an idea foreign to Semites & Aryans.

|6|I give below the characteristic of the family which I call Hamitik, because the first that I met of the 16 I studied names itself Ham or Khamtĭnga i.e. the tongue of Kham. In that idiom the locative case is formed, as in Basque, by adding a syllabe after the genitive (basque: amarekin = with the mother). All or nearly all my Hamitik characteristics apply to the Basque.

As for numeration I give you the first ten numbers in Hamtĭnga, and in Kofăcco. The first forms the second quinte by adding ta to the first. The other borrows the second quinte from the Semites. In both cases there is a creation inability beyond five. Hamtĭnga is the language spoken by the Agăw of Lasta. Kafăcco is the language of Kaffa. I have given these views verbally to the British Association. There is no paper extant.

|7|Hamtĭnga Kafăcco

1. Lawa 6. Walta 1. ĭkho 6. Sŭddisto

2. linga 7. langata 2. gutto 7. xĭbato

3. sakhua 8. sokhota 3. kejo 8. xĭmmĭnto

4. Săzza 9. Săzzăta 4. Awde 9. Tĭxato

5. Ankua 10. tsique 5. ucco 10. axzo.

I ought to have said that in the above ğ = ng of the English participle (reading, lying), x = the english sh; c = English ch; q = arabic ق (hebreu #7) or k, with a smacking sound; t = emphatic t of the Semites. tĭğa meaning tongue is not the only European word in my Hamitik languages; in Aw-~ga, which has the same numeration as Hamtĭ~ga, says lanka (langue in French) ama = mother (basque etc.); or = head (Latin oriri), haur = child, basque, and so on, full 5% of words almost identical with European.

The Doggo live far to the South of Alava an Ethiopian province (and Basque one). A |8| Doggo tribe calls itself Bask or Basketa. A Doggo who conversed with me in Oromo, gave me many samples of double regimens in his verbs, just as in Basque. I am therefore fully entitled to say in regard to Basque what Linnæus said to Jussieu on viewing a new plant: « facies Africana ». Make what use you please with this letter.

Characteristics of Hamitik family.

1. Biliteral roots, i.e. formed by two consonants

2. Numeration by five

3. No plural in nouns

4. A terminal article having a plural form.

5. No word beginning with R.

6. Power of declining a verb.

7. Formation of a noun from a verbal form, or more of them together.

8. Use of terminational particles to form derived nouns: power of putting one.

9. Spare use of the passive voice.


10. Causative, & often double causative voice.

11. Power of lengthening word almost indefinitely.

12. Several cases in nouns, often grafted one on the other.

13. Regimens inserted inside verbal forms.

14. Imperative identical with verbal root.

15. Often a special form, for negative verbs.

16. Verbs formed by an auxiliary & an indeclinable noun.

17. Nouns formed by the repetition of a root like the Basque Tartarua = Cyclops.

I have tried to put down these characteristics in their order of importance. To the objection that many of them are Aryan, I answer that it must be so, that Aryan is only a secondary family of a family, that no family is pure, but that, like many geological formations, one passes more or less into the other. I explain in that way the polyliteral roots |10| of the Semitic family. They seem to be of Hamitik origin.

This theory not having been published, has not been discussed, far less accepted, by philologists. It seems¬ however to explain many anomalous facts : i.e. looked on as such in the present state of philology.

1 Schuchardt (1892), Brevier/HSA Nr. 263, eine Rezension von Giacomino (1892).

2 Vom 21.-24. August fand in Saint Jean de Luz ein von der Gemeinde organisiertes großes Fest zu Ehren von Antoine d'Abbadie statt. Vgl. https://liburutegibiltegi.bizkaia.eus/handle/20.500.11938/81633?locale-attribute=fr.

3 Dodgson (1892), Adiciones a la bibliografía de Julien Vinson. und ebenfalls Dodgson (1892) Bibliografía, in: Euskal-Erria: revista bascongada T. 26 (1°sem. 1892): 346-351. und Dodgson (1892) Supplément à la bibliographie de la langue Basque. Revue des Bibliothèques 2e année, No. 5-6: 216-227.

4 Vgl. auch Dodgson (1911), La historia de Santa Elena, reina de Inglaterra. Gaceta de Galicia, 18 de febrero 1911.

5 Llewelyn Thomas hat sich u.a. mit alten Bibelübersetzungen ins Baskische beschäftigt, vgl. Thomas (1894).

6 Es gibt nur aus 1930 einen postum veröffentlichten Artikel/Brief von Webster zum Thema: Webster (1930) Une lettre sur la couvade. Bulletin du Musée Basque; Revue des études et recherches basques 11: 1-3; von Schuchardt (1912) gibt es dazu ebenfalls eine kurze Positionierung: “La Couvade chez les Basques”.

7 Webster scheint sich hier in der Verwendung des Hebräischen Zeichens geirrt und dieses ev. verkehrt zu haben (vgl. den zugehörigen Brief).

Faksimiles: Universitätsbibliothek Graz Abteilung für Sondersammlungen, Creative commons CC BY-NC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (Sig. 012672)