English Words of (Unexpected) Greek Origin.

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What is the relation between Latin and Greek?

10 Responses to “What is the relation between Latin and Greek?”

  1. The document that you show here is not correct: while it’s true that the Romans borrowed many words from the Greeks, the Latin language per se did not come from Greek. Latin and Greek are sister languages; both descended from what historical linguists call Primitive Indo-European, which also gave rise to the Germanic languages, of which English is one.

    • lokros said

      My humble question: Since the so called Indo-European civilization left us no written language, no symbols, no temples, no ancient city ruins, no ancient artifacts, how could we support the existence of such a civilization?
      You think Greek and Latin are sister languages, I know that the Greek language is not only the richest language on earth, due to its mathematical structure, but it will always borrow terms to every other language in order to fill up inevitable gaps.

      • While the Indo-Europeans didn’t leave us any written records, their descendants, including the Greeks, Romans, and Hindus, did. Linguists use ancient and more recent writings from Indo-European languages to compare words and grammatical forms. On the basis of all that evidience, linguists can infer many things about the original language and about how the various subfamilies developed.

        If you have access to the printed version of The American Heritage Dictionary (4th edition), from pp. 2007–2015 you’ll find an excellent essay by Calvert Watkins about the Indo-Europeans nd their language. The essay includes an example of how linguists use related words in various Indo-European languages to reconstruct a plausible version of the Indo-European original.

      • lokros said

        We all agree that scientists or linguistics in particular can undoubtedly provide interesting findings. However, a research conducted on the reconstruction of a language (i.e the Hindo-European) , should firstly reassure that the civilization which used it really existed. The very existence of this culture, has no more than theoretical basis.

      • Fred said


        You present an interesting dilemma since a language can exist prior to its existing in written form–a situation where you would not have archeological evidence.

        We have inferred evidence that the ‘parent’ language existed because of common words/methods in the child languages. It seems clear that it was at least ‘spoken’ if not ‘written’

        So, if the language was virtually spoken only, what kind of archeological evidence would you expect to find?

        Now if you were to hold that the Indo-European language did exist, they there is a need offer and explanation as to why other evidence seems to show that it did.

      • Dan said

        Grimm’s Law demonstrates that sounds in the Indo-European languages change in predictable patterns. Therefore, inferences may be made in reverse and languages traced back. For instance, it is readily noticeable that English “queen” is related to Swedish “kvinna” (meaning “women”). If you continue that process, you can make even greater connections and words that seem to have no connection can be demonstrated to be related, such as Greek “gyne” and Persian “zan.”

    • Kizi said

      Dear sirs, I am no linguist, just a curious browser, but I have a couple of legitimate questions:
      Ancient Greek originated ( and is found in written form) much earlier in time than Latin, isnt that true?
      As the Romans borrowed many words from the Greek, and if those were sister and not “mother and daughter” languages then the Greeks and the Ancient Greek language should contain similar or at least analogous number of Latin borrowed words, which it does not…
      Am I wrong to assume that despite the dissimilarities, that can be attributed to the historical divergence of parallel development of these languages for so many years, Greek predates, and thus contributes “motherly” to the origin of latin?

      • Dan said

        The Greeks did not borrow much of anything from the Romans, as they considered the Romans to be their cultural and intellectual inferiors. There is evidence that the Ancients noticed similarities in their languages, which the Greeks attributed to borrowing, even when there was no evidence of it.

  2. Philologist said

    Many Indo-European sounds (especially consonants) turned out similarly in Latin and Greek which can make the distinction between parent vs sibling less clear in these cases: the parallel relationship (whether you prefer to say sibling, cousin etc) might be better shown by examples like
    (NB. English words used as example for Germanic Languages, * indicates reconstructed original sound)
    *IE dh IE w,g IE k-,-d IE k-,-t IE k-
    Germanic red work heart hund(red) hound
    Greek (e)rythros erg- kardion (he)katon kyon
    Latin ruber verg- cordis (gen.) centum canis

    Several sound laws are relevant to the examples shown and detailed discussion can be found on other sites (for example, search for “Grimm’s Law”)

    Of particular interest to those interested in the history of Greek is the Mycaenean language (limited records from the so-called “Linear B” script tablets) which shows “iqos” as an early form of “hippos” (note Lat. equs, Old irish ech). The outcome of Indo European *kw is varied particularly within Greek depending on the vowels which originally followed it, giving p- before o,a; k- before u/y and t- before e,i – the compare interrogative pronouns amongst Latin, A.Greek and, say, English (where you usually get wh- but h- before some)

    The following are rather more complicated (see, among other sources, indoeuropean s-mobile on Wikipedia)

    Germanic water (s)weet
    Greek hyder hedys
    Latin sudor (sweat,moisture) suavis

    Hope this helps generate interest

  3. buen dia acabo de enterarme de tu web y la verdad es que me parece estupendo no sabia de mas personas interesadas en estos temas, aqui tienes un nuevo lector que seguira visitandote mensualmente.

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