Basque surnames that aren’t

This poster was presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. It announces the discovery of Y haplogroup I2a1a-M26 in Amerindians, with a coalescence time of approximately 2000 years ago. The authors assert that the presence of this Caucasoid haplogroup in Amerindians is the result of the post-Columbian Basque diaspora. They claim that “this was not a single individual who came to the Americas 2000 years ago, but rather a small group which came more recently and likely shared a common culture”.

The only evidence the poster offers for their interpretation of the genetic data is Table 1. It’s not clear to me whether the individuals from the Americas in that table are the Amerindians they found I2a1a in, or other non-Amerindians from American countries whose Y haplotypes were close matches to the I2a1a haplotypes they found in the Amerindians. The table’s caption says “nearest matches to I2a1 sample” which suggests to me that the individuals are not the Amerindians. And none of the Peruvian individuals have Quechua surnames, which I think would be unlikely if they were all pure Peruvian Amerindians. And if the Amerindians weren’t pure, then why would it be surprising to find non-Amerindian Y haplogroups in them? But maybe the American individuals are the Amerindians, and the “I2a1 sample” the caption refers to is just the consensus sample which appears in the first row.

But it doesn’t matter anyway. Their point is supposed to be that the “nearest matches” have Basque surnames. Let’s go one by one through the surnames which they claim to be Basque. I will make reference to this list of Basque surnames at buber.net, this list at Wikipedia, this list at Family Tree DNA, and this list at Family-crests.com. I will also refer to this table of most common surnames for Latinos in the U.S., this spreadsheet containing the most common surnames in Spain, the surname information provided at Ancestry.com, and the Wikipedia pages for each surname.

Rodriguez: This surname appears in the buber.net list of Basque surnames, but not in any of the other three lists. It’s a Spanish patronymic from Rodrigo, which is the Spanish form of the Germanic personal name Roderick. It’s the second most common Latino surname in the U.S., and the third most common surname in Spain. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Goncalves: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Portuguese surname that is a patronymic from Goncalo, a personal name of Visigothic origin. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Herrera: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Spanish surname ultimately derived from the Latin ferrum, meaning iron. It’s the 31st most common Latino surname in the U.S., and the 57th most common surname in Spain. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Ferreira: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s the Portuguese equivalent of Herrera. It’s the 765th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Rodrigues: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s the Portuguese equivalent of Rodriguez. It’s the 374th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Arce: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Spanish habitational name from places in Spain called Arce. These place names do ultimately derive, however, from the Basque artze, meaning “stony place”. It’s the 337th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Miranda: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Spanish and Portuguese habitational name from any of numerous places in Spain and Portugal called Miranda. It’s the 86th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Aguero: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Spanish and Aragonese habitational name from places named Aguero. The place names are probably derived from the Latin (vicus) aquarius, meaning “well-watered (settlement)”. It’s the 834th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

Vazquez: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a variant of Vasquez. It’s the 56th most common Latino surname in the U.S., and the 24th most common surname in Spain. It shares its Wikipedia page with Vasquez.

Vasquez: This surname appears in the buber.net list of Basque surnames, but not in any of the other three lists. The first sentence in its entry on buber.net is “I think is not a basque surname”. It’s a Galician and Spanish patronymic, ultimately from the personal name Velasco. It’s the 26th most common Latino surname in the U.S. The word “Basque” appears once on its Wikipedia page, as one of two possible origins of the personal name Velascus from which it’s derived.

Suarez: This surname doesn’t appear in any of the four lists of Basque surnames. It’s a Spanish surname, and is either an occupational name for a swineherd (Latin Suerius), or a patronymic from the personal names Suero or Soeiro. It’s the 113th most common Latino surname in the U.S., and the 30th most common surname in Spain. The word “Basque” doesn’t appear anywhere on its Wikipedia page.

I’m not arguing that there are no Basques who have these surnames. I’m pointing out that every single one of the surnames that they claim is Basque was non-Basque in at least some and in most cases all points in its history, and that every single one is found predominantly among non-Basques. Not one of the many distinctively Basque surnames in the four lists appears in their collection of supposedly Basque surnames.

In short, they presented no real evidence for their contention that the I2a1a that they found in Amerindians was introgressed from the post-Columbian Basque diaspora in the Americas.

In my next post I will elaborate on who I think the I2a1a was really introgressed from.

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One comment on “Basque surnames that aren’t
  1. […] March 22: Basque surnames that aren’t […]

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