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Basque Traces in the Toponymy of Newfoundland and Various Coasts of Atlantic Canada

Basque Traces in the Toponymy of Newfoundland and Various Coasts of Atlantic Canada

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Title: Basque Traces in the Toponymy of Newfoundland and Various Coasts of Atlantic Canada
Author: Weyers, Christian
Abstract: Whereas the first and undoubtedly most important toponymic stratum of the island of Newfoundland and
adjacent waters is Portuguese, the presence of Basques from the 1530s to the late 17th century on the South
and West coasts of Newfoundland, the islands of Cape Breton, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and on the left
bank of the Saint Lawrence River had relatively little impact on the geographical nomenclature.
Documentation is rare and not readily accessible, and the omnipresence of French during this period was
not at all favorable to the development of appellations given by French and Spanish Basques. Many names
are now extinct, others have been Frenchified and Anglicized ('Port au Port', 'Port au Choix', 'Ingornachoix').
The most complete repertory of Basque names (although many of them are mixed or hybrid
appellations) is to be found in Pierre Detcheverry’s edition of the rutter of Martín de Hoyarçabal (Bayonne
1677). In contrast, his map of 1689 and that of Denis de Rotis (1676) offer only a relatively small number.
An accurate comparison of maps and charts from the 16th and 17th century until today will show to what
extent Basque names – including those of minor geographical features – have stayed, been altered or
vanished completely.
Other categories, e.g., the commemorative names ('Lac de ~' and 'Anse de l’Échafaud du Basque',
'Basque Island', etc.) and name transfers of places of origin with reference to the Basque Country ('Amuitx',
'Plasencia') – some of them hypothetical ('Cape Breton') – will also be discussed in this paper.
Subject: Basque Toponymy in Newfoundland
Newfoundland Toponymy
Type: Article
Rights: The following articles are © 2009 with the individual authors. They are made available free of charge from this page as a service to the community under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative Works license version 3.0. For full details go to http://creativecommons.org.licenses/ny-nd.3.0
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/4050
Published: York University
Citation: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences
ISBN: 978-1-55014-521-2
Date: 2009

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