More information: Etnotoponimia on-line
Place names can refer to larger areas (like a town, a village or a neighbourhood), or they may identify a particular spot (a fountain, a market garden). Often names become fossilized and thus retain information from a previous era of the language. The study of place names provides plenty of knowledge about our roots. Every road, fountain, house, stable, hermitage, market garden and field has its name for the locals.
Nowadays Basque place names can be found in areas where perhaps Basque is no longer spoken, or a name like Iturrigorri may appear where all remains of the fountain the word refers to have long since disappeared. If for instance one comes across the place name Goikoetxe, there will almost certainly be a Bekoetxe or similar name close by. Place names are rich sources of information, as they tell us something about local geography, history and ways of life.
Labayru Fundazioa has for years used its own methodology to analyse names. Old archives and questions put orally to informants have supplied plenty of information that has been used to set up a database. Fieldwork has been done in places like Basauri, Etxebarri, Lezama, Elorrio, Bedia, Larrabetzu and Mungia. The results of this research have also been published in books, maps and teaching units.
The data accumulated to the present time may be consulted online in the Bizkaiko Onomastika Datutegia database. It features names registered in written documents, oral information or associated ethno-essays, observations and photographs.