November 27, 2012

Zavala: Of Basque Origins


I met up for ice cream with one of my classmates last week. He is from Spain, and as we chatted about a lot of different things, we somehow started talking about how Mormons like to research their family history. And he mentioned that my last name is a Basque last name. All I'd known previously is that if you trace our genealogy far back enough on my dad's mom's side, we come from Spain (as is the case with many Latin Americans). But the Basque detail was new to me. I've taken to the internet and lo and behold.... He's right! I have a Basque last name! I'm suddenly interested in learning about everything Basque! 

Here are a few tidbits I've gleaned so far (some from legitimate sources, some from less legitimate sources, but ALL interesting!):

  • Zavala is a Spanish (Spain) last name. It's of Basque origin and comes from the Basque word zubia that means "bridge". (via)
  • Zavala is a Spanish variant of Zabala. (via)
  • Zabala is a name for someone who lived in any of the various places in Biscay and Araba (Basque country) called Zabala, which is derived from the Basque "zabal," meaning "large" or "broad" and "a", the definite article(via.)
  • There are German Zavala's and Italian Zabala's (buuuut who knows if I'm related to any of them?) and many variations of each spelling.

  • Matt and Lucy Damon gave their daughter the name "Zavala" for a middle name. (via) Her full name is Gia Zavala Damon. (See, I told you they weren't all relevant or legitimate.)
  • Lorenzo de Zavala was an influential Texan, and Zavala County, Texas is named after him.
  • Over 23,300 people in the U.S. have the last name "Zavala" (via)
  • Coat of arms. (Yeah, not sure about this one...)
  • Here's an... umm... interesting one about what Basques look like? (Sorry, this one is soooo not P.C., but I was curious.)
  • Apparently, a lot of Basques have O blood, mostly O negative. (My blood is O positive, FYI. You know, in case I never need blood transfusions, and you're the one at the hospital with me.) (via here, here, here.) Basques have the highest frequency of O blood type among all European populations (which leads many to believe that they did NOT intermix with other groups of people). For that reason, they are considered an ethnically unique people.
  • And finally, from Wiki:

    "The Basques (Basqueeuskaldunak,SpanishvascosFrenchbasques) as anethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country (BasqueEuskal Herria), a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscayand straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.
    It is thought that
     Basques are a remnant of the early inhabitants of Western Europe, specifically those of the Franco-Cantabrian region. Autosomal genetic studies confirm that Basques have a very close relationship with other Europeans, especially with rest of Spaniards, who have a common genetic identity of over 70% with Basques."

Also, these links (here, here, here) were interesting. And now you know what I know.

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