Polloe hilerria. Polloe cemetery.
Hilerria in Basque literally means “the country / the village of the dead” (hil (dead, death) + herria) and it gets even stranger as some linguists defend the word “hil" is closely related to "il" as in "ilargia" (moon): il (dead, death) + argia (light). Moon = light of the dead.
Euskara is fascinating.
I had also heard another theory among archaeologists (please correct me if this is wrong! Archaeologists sometimes have their own theories concerning etymology. But archaeology and linguistics aren’t the same thing :p) according to which il would be an abbreviation of ilun (darkness). Either way, the moon would be the light that shines in darkness and the light of the dead.
Also, I’d heard about hil being "death" in proto-basque.
I’ve also read folk tales in which spirits of the night or random Basajaunak would warn humans who were wandering or working outside by night that “daytime was for humans and nighttime for the spirits”.
Could this be linked?
By the way, I’m not Basque but I have heard many people say the same thing more up north. When I was little and didn’t want to go to sleep and would bother my parents for stories or sneak out in the garden with my brother, my grandma, her friends and/or my uncle would tell us to go back to bed, saying that “daytime [was] for the living and nighttime [was] for the dead”, to scare us.
Is this something that you’ve heard too?
And YES! Euskara is fascinating!
Believe it or not, if Modern Greek had not worked out either, yesterday, I would have opted for either Breton, Occitan or Euskara. Breton because of my family, Occitan for the medieval literature and proximity to Gascon, and Euskara because of the interesting history and etymology of the language, along with (shame on me, hahah!) folklore and punk rock lyrics that I’d love to understand.
Yes. In Basque folklore bad spirits and witches aren’t allowed to see the sun. This makes them really mad at the living and thus they come out at night to do bad things.
In fact, an old tradition (alive until th 19th century) was to leave a candle and the fireplace lit at night, so the dead could see a light and feel some warm in their dark world.
Everything’s a bit related. In certain Basque expressions, when you’re talking about a deceased person, you don’t say “Aitor used to say…” but “The one who was Aitor used to say…”. Anthropologists think this is because name and individual are the same for the Basque, if one doesn’t exist, neither does the other. That’d explain the famous “Izena duen guztia omen da”: everything that has a name exists.