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A Bottle Hits The Dust

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 10 Nov 2020, 00:53

An old shelf collapsed today, sadly; a bottle of Port fell and broke. No use crying, but why is Port called Port?

It's named for Oporto which means 'The port' in Portugese. I knew that but wanted to dig deeper.

Portugal itself seems to have been named in Latin, Portus Cale, the first element meaning port or gate or mountain pass etc. in Latin, the second a Celtic name, of a deity, or a people, or lots of other possibilites, see


But what about Latin portus? What are its origins? I was surprised. It is conjecturered to stem from a word pertus = crossing in the long-ago origin of most (but not all!) European languages.

So, even more surprisingly perhaps, the English word ford has the same origin. Grimm's laws documented that words that began with 'p' or 'q' in Greek or Latim have mutated to start with 'f' in Germanic languages, so e.g.

pater (Latin) -> father

pisce (Latin) -> fish

pyre (Greek) -> fire

pente (Greek) -> five

quercus (Latin) -> fir (not the same tree, but the same word root)

pothi (Greek) -> foot

If you want to feed in anything more, you have an opportunity to do so in the Comments.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 10 Nov 2020, 22:15)
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