File under “weird coincidences”: last week I posted about my new copy of Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe, and the first comment said “Any encyclopaedia that gives due coverage to Basque-Icelandic pidgin must be respected as comprehensive.” Then my online pal (and occasional commenter) kattullus came to visit Friday and told me about a Basque-Icelandic dictionary from hundreds of years ago; just now he e-mailed me some links, and I am duly passing them on to you.
Here is a brief description, with examples (at Luistxo Fernandez’s wonderful GeoNative site, which focuses on “minorities, little nations and native cultures” and specializes in toponymy—here‘s the main list of tables); here are “summaries of the lectures at a conference on the slaying of Spaniards in the West fjords in 1615,” one of which is on the bilingual vocabularies; and here is the meatiest of them as far as I’m concerned, a detailed discussion by Henrike Knörr of the vocabularies and what I gather was their initial publication:
In 1937 Nicolaas Gerardus Hendricus Deen, a linguist from De Hague, presented his doctoral thesis, entitled Glossaria duo Vasco-Islandica, to the University of Leiden. The thesis, under the direction of F. Muller, was written in Latin and was edited in the same language later that same year. It was a relatively small work of just 135 pages in length. The recognition that the book enjoyed was negatively affected by two wars: the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which was being fought bitterly at the time, and the Second World War, which was soon to erupt. However, Deen’s thesis would almost certainly have been more widely acknowledged had the author published it in a modern language.
The subject of Deen’s work was two vocabularies taken from manuscripts written in Iceland at the end of the 17th century and beginning of the XVIIIth, accompanied by a commentary and a translation. The manuscripts had been made known to Deen by Christianus Cornelius Uhlenbeck (1866-1951), a well-known expert in Basque studies and lecturer at the University of Leiden. […] Deen travelled to the Basque Country in 1927 […] and studied the manuscripts […] At the end of the prologue, having expressed his thanks to Urquijo, Deen wrote these moving words: “Let us hope that the Basque Country comes back to life, stronger and more beautiful than before, and let us hope that Spain can soon live in peace!” (“Utinam renascatur pulchrius ac fortius Vasconia et bona cum pace iamiam vivat Hispania”). I would add that I, at least, know nothing about the life and works of Deen after 1937.
Deen published these vocabularies in four columns: Basque / Icelandic / German / Spanish. […] It is surprising that the thesis is not in the rich library and archive of Urquijo: because of the incommunicaton in war times or because of a theft?…
Moral: do not publish your scholarship in a dead language, especially when the world is convulsed with war (I’m reminded of the saga of the Persian-Russian dictionary I recounted here). Also, people who steal books from libraries should be publicly flogged.