Carry on…

The verb porto, in Latin means, to carry or, to bring.

In all its glory, the verb is: porto, portare, portavi, portatum.

English pulls quite a few words out of this particular Latin hat.  Before we get to that, however, let’s take a look at the way Romance languages say carry, or bring.

  • French: porter                                                                                              
  • Spanish: llevar
  • Portuguese: levar
  • Italian: portare

As you can see, French and Italian did not deviate far from Latin.  Italian chose not to deviate at all, as it turns out.  This is fairly common in Romance languages.  It makes sense.  After all, Latin is their mother, and they look a lot like their mother.

English pulls quite a bit out of Latin as well.  Not to put to fine a point on it, if you are looking at a big word in English, you are most likely looking at a word from Latin.  90% of multi-syllable words in English derive directly from Latin.

Starting Monday, we will look at English words from the Latin and Greek words porto and φέρειν. More on the Greek word in a bit…

The Latin porto gave us the following English derivatives:

  • colporteur
  • comport
  • deport
  • deportment
  • export
  • import
  • important
  • passport
  • portable
  • portage
  • porter
  • portfolio
  • portmanteau
  • portly
  • purport
  • report
  • reporter
  • rapport
  • rapporteur
  • support
  • sport, and
  • transport.

English owes much to Greek, as well.  Though Greek certainly has not provide us with as much as Latin, Greek has created a significant amount of the scientific, and technical power words in our language.

The ancient Greek φέρειν means to carry, to bear, or, to bring.

Written with Latin letters, φέρειν becomes pherein.  

Incidentally, I am discovering that ancient Greek and modern Greek are not all that removed from one another.  The modern Greek equivalent is φέρουν.

The Greek φέρειν gave us the following English derivatives:

  • amphora
  • anaphora
  • Berenice
  • chromatophore
  • euphoria
  • esophagus
  • metaphor
  • paraphernalia
  • periphery
  • pheromone
  • phosphorus
  • pyrophoric
  • semaphore
  • Christopher
  • plerophory

Over the next few weeks, we will look in depth at many of these words.