Is English the only language with both Greek and Latin roots?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by science man, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. I'm seriously wondering this.
     
  2. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    10,343
    I think you'll find English a Germanic language that has merely adopted words from Latin and Greek, it is not rooted in them. It has plenty of Latin derived words, because of Christianity, and the bible was only available in Latin for a long time. Greek influence is largely due to scientists using Greek terms.
     
  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    22,737
    Hardly! Have you never out of curiosity glanced at a newspaper or magazine in another European language? Most of them use the same Greek and Latin roots we use. E.g., Spanish televisiĆ³n, which is a modern hybrid of the Greek word for "distance" and the Latin word for "sight."

    Besides, as I hope you understand after reading the posts on this board, Spanish is a Romance language and the majority of its words are descended from their Latin ancestors. I also hope by now you know that the same can be said for Portuguese, Catalan, French, Occitan, Romansh, Italian, Romanian, and several other speech variants which are sometimes categorized as languages and sometimes as dialects, such as Sardinian and Galician. All any of these languages need in their wordstock are the international standard Greek words like demokratia and geometria, and and they automatically fall into the category you're wondering about. Duh? You need to think a little longer about these questions and find the obvious answers in your head before you write them down! ;)

    The Slavic languages, of course, are not in the Romance subfamily, but they have been subject to the same influence of Greco-Roman culture as all the rest of Europe. Russian is full of Latin words like fakt and familiya and Greek words like muzik and trigonometria. The very name of the old USSR, Soyuz Sovyetzkikh Sotzialistichskih Ryespublik contains two Latin words: "socialist" and "republic"!

    The German language underwent an ethnic cleansing in the early twentieth century, during which the government attempted to rid the language of foreign borrowings. This is why they call "television" fernseh, the same compound "distance-vision" translated into German, and "automobile" (another hybrid of Greek "self" and Latin "moveable") kraftwagen, their own alternative description "power wagon." But even the Germans can't stave off the avalanche of Greek and Latin words. The official name of the old East Germany was Deutsche Demokratische Republik: one German word, one Greek word and one Latin word.

    The non-Indo-European languages of Europe do a better job of blocking Greco-Roman immigration. Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Basque and Turkish don't have nearly as many foreign words as our languages, yet they do have some. The Basque word for "six" is sei, obviously borrowed from Spanish seis, suggesting that the Basques (who are regarded by many anthropologists as the last surviving descendants of the ancient Cro-Magnon people, the first Homo sapiens to set foot in Europe) had a base-five number system.
    Once again, by now I sincerely hope that Mister Science already knows this. We've been explaining it to him since he first walked in the front door!

    Although I might quibble over your use of the word "few." Foreigners look at a page of English text and insist that it must be a Romance language because, arguably, the majority of the words look French. In the early centuries of the Norman occupation French was England's official language of government, commerce and scholarship, and thousands of French words were added to our wordstock. This includes basic everyday words such as color, face, question, second, use, and very.

    Add to that the thousands of new words invented by scientists, engineers, doctors, politicians and other scholars out of Latin and Greek roots, such as "psychiatry," "radio," "autoimmune," "computer," "vaccine," "globalization" and "terrorist"; not to mention Russian words (pogrom), Chinese (gung ho), Arabic (algebra), Algonquin (tomahawk), Dharuk (boomerang), Japanese (kamikaze), Inuit (igloo), Fijian (taboo), West African (yam), and literally dozens of other sources, and you've got a language whose roots are not at all obvious.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  4. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    10,300
    I've been meaning to post this for quite a while and have finally gotten around to it.

    We need to give this guy a break. His screen name - science "man" is a gross overstatement, it really should be science (or something) "kid." He's obviously VERY young, not only in terms of age but also education and ability to reason and link facts together.

    I would MUCH rather see him asking questions as he's doing, no matter how trivial or simple they might be - INSTEAD of doing like many of the real idiots here who come barging in and trying to tell all us older, better educated people how things "really work." They are the stupid of the stupid - and the sad thing in that they aren't even bright enough to recognize it NOR to accept correction. I won't mention any names but I'm sure you'll have at least a dozen come to mind immediately.

    So keep it up kid - ask ALL the questions you want!!! That's one of the BEST ways to learn. :)
     
  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I don't argue with that. But he spends a lot of time on this subforum (and used to engage in PM exchanges until I begged him to post them here where many more people could participate and learn) and my criticism is that he needs to review the questions that have already been answered.

    The roots of the English language have been discussed at great length, as have the roots of the other Indo-European languages. If he has the interest in language and linguistics that he professes, by now he should have done enough random browsing of other material, including simply staring in fascination at foreign-language text, to know that Latin, Greek, and Latin-Greek hybrid words like "psychiatrist," "socialism," "ultraviolet" and "nanosecond" have been widely adopted throughout the European languages.
     
  6. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Wouldn't that amount to a base-six number system? Why would they have a word for "five" is they only needed the digits 0-4?
     
  7. Thanks Read-Only I will. Frag, I'm I'm sorry my questions are easy for you, but I am serious when I ask them. For example, I honestly thought that all Romance languages were solely based off of Latin roots. OK, I admit, I didn't put much thought into Germanic languages, but either way, I wanted to be verified. I remember being told search the forum for my answers but I want to spend the time to try to guess the exact wording that the question was previously asked in. I've been recently trying limit my questioning by doing more googling, but as I'm sure everyone knows, that doesn't work 100% of the time. Once again, I don't mean to be a question spammer, I really mean the questions I ask no matter how remedial they sound. I will try to repay in the future by answering questions of other members.
     
  8. Btw Frag the Basque word "sei" probably came from the Italian word "sei" which can also mean "six" given the right context.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    22,737
    Why do we need a word for "ten" if we only have digits 0-9?
    The Basques live in the Pyrenees. They encountered the Spanish and the French, not the Italians.
     

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