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  5. "De havens van Amsterdam zijn…

"De havens van Amsterdam zijn belangrijk."

Translation:The ports of Amsterdam are important.

August 6, 2014



Heh... imPORTant.


Yep. Funny thing is the word important actually comes from the same root as import. It essentially means "having the value of imported goods" (an obviously archaic concept since many people regard things made in their home country as being better quality than imports, but back when importing was slow and expensive it only made sense to import superior goods).


A lot of folk etymology contains just-so stories like these. Important actually comes from the Latin word "importo" meaning to bring in or cause. Something that causes a consequence is important. Nothing to do with imported goods.


It's not a folk etymology, and what you said completely agrees with what I said. Let me give you wiktionary entries for both:

Important: From Middle French important, from Latin importans. (which in turn is the present participle of importō). The definition of importans is "importing, introducing, causing" and importo means "I bring, carry or convey into; bring in from abroad, import"

Import: From Middle English importen, from Middle French importer, from Latin importō (“I bring in from abroad, import”), from in (“in, at, on; into”) + portō (“I carry, bear; convey”).

I rest my case.

P.S., I took 2 years of Latin and wasn't operating on something I heard as a rumor =P


It has the additional meaning of importing from overseas, but that's not where it comes from. Both meanings arose around the same time so it's not like "important" comes from expensive Persian rugs or anything. The words just share a root.



From the exact same website:


"Important, adj. mid-15c., from Middle French important and directly from Medieval Latin importantem (nominative importans), present participle of importare "be significant in," from Latin importare "bring in" (see import). Related: Importantly."

Not to mention you overlooked the fact that they both come from importō! It's the exact same root.


Duolingo won't let me continue the original thread any longer, but that source only confirms that "import" and "important" share a root (which I never denied), not that "important" means "having the value of imports" which was your assertion. Merriam-Webster puts the first recorded use of "import" as a noun around 1568 so I'm sure you can see why that's unlikely. When I say importance has nothign to do with imported goods I mean the two meanings of "import" clearly evolved around the same time and not one from the other in the sense of "important means important because imports are important". "Importare" means to bring in and the two meanings come from the literal and figurative senses of the word. But this is a pretty tedious argument anyway so you won't hear any more from me about this.


Let me backtrack to my original post. I said it essentially means, not it literally means. I never said it's dictionary definition used to be such and such. You need to read between the lines sometimes and figure out that there's a story behind a definition and why and how words enter into our language.

Let me also add that the French middle-man between English and Latin is where the word gained it's meaning of "significant" so technically it didn't originate in English as meaning anything to do with imports, but I never asserted that. The word has the same form in both languages, and only a minor change from the Latin. This is a language website, so I didn't think I had to confine the discussion to the history of the English language.

But my point is, if they both come from the same root, then what exactly do you think important meant in it's early history? Why derive said adjective directly from a word meaning to import if it's entirely coincidental? It's an adjectival form of import, more or less. Merriam-Webster also says important was first used in the 15th century, which is the same as what the online Merriam-Webster gives me for import (in general, not as a noun). I don't see why originating in the 15th-16th centuries limits the sense of the word to those not including value. Not to mention they go back much further in French and even further in Latin.

My point is basically that people in that era valued imported goods as exotic, rare, etc. and thus chose to create an adjective derived from the same root as import to convey that value. Exactly where and when they did this is unknown to both of us, obviously.


Porter is a common British surname. In the distant past it was probably assigned to people who carried goods. i.e. John the porter. !


Dear sir, you have my gratitude for helping in the fight against false etymology. We must make a stand against such nonsense.


Makes me think of Jaques Brel. :) Dans les ports, d'Amsterdam...


Or David Bowie's version 'Port of Amsterdam'.


Or you might want to go with Acda en de Munnik's Dutch version "De stad Amsterdam" It's basically just a Dutch translation of Brel's lyrics but it works well.


they should switch this to rotterdam ;)


Sure the port of Rotterdam is a lot bigger, but Amsterdam is still the 4th port of Europe measured in tons handled, see wikipedia


thanks! i need to practice duolingo more so i can read wikipedia in dutch :P


Or you can already start reading the simpler (shorter) articles, or the ones about topics you know a lot about, and see if you get the gist or get the meaning of some words. Sports usually is an easy start because you roughly know what kind of things should be in there (whether it is a wikipedia article about an athlete, or simply sports news), but if you're not into sports I would advise you to pick something different, something you actually are interested in. :)


For instance. :) If you're into mathematics you'll definitely get the gist of those kind of articles, so helpful for sure. Topics with (some) international vocabulary/language (e.g. many scientific subjects, music, arts, film) can be easier to understand and therefor give you motivation in learning. Next to that, reading about topics you're interested in is also motivating.


I know SOME dutch to edit the Dutch Wikibooks! https://nl.wikibooks.org/wiki/Hoofdpagina


what is the difference between the words 'Port' and 'Dock' in Dutch?

I'm a little bit sad it wouldn't let me pass with writing 'The docks of amsterdam are important' ^_^


Docks are only part of a port. According to Wikipedia, a dock "is the area of water between or next to one or a group of human-made structures that are involved in the handling of boats or ships (usually on or near a shore) or such structures themselves." In British English, dock refers to the water; in American English, it refers to the manmade structures. Either way, the docks are only part of the port. Btw, I hadn't know that British and American usage differed on this until I looked up the exact definition just now.


Why doesn't it accept "the Amsterdam ports are important"?


There is no possessive in your example. It makes sense and would be understood to mean the same thing, but it's less accurate as a direct translation.


In my opinion there is only one Port of Amsterdam which consists of a number of different harbours, just like the Port of Rotterdam.


I was told I was wrong because i wrote "The Amsterdam's harbours" instead of the American "harbors". I think it is unfair.


If you wrote "The Amsterdam's harbours" it would have been marked wrong because of the (incorrect) inclusion of the word The -- not because of the spelling of harbours.


why is it de Havens when it is only just Amsterdam shouldn't it be singular?


Well, it's a language lesson, not a geography lesson, so I guess it doesn't much matter what we're translating as long as we're building vocabulary and understanding grammar. Although, perhaps there's a smaller, lesser known port in Amsterdam besides the Haven van Amsterdam?


good to know that. I THOUGHT it was plural for an obscure grammatical reason


I never knew Amsterdam had ports. ..


Does Duo really hate me, or that's meant to be like that? https://i.imgur.com/7P3aPFs.png


What's wrong with "The Amsterdam harbors are important." ??


The Amsterdam ports are important is the same but inverted


Wonder if it's possible to say "A'dam," didn't dare you it though since I was quite certain that they'd say it was wrong.


I've never heard anybody actually say it out loud. "A'dam" and "R'dam"are quite common in informal writing though.


They are very important


Why isnt it accepting "the ports from Amsterdam"?


Because "from" implies they left Amsterdam. Ports tend to stay put.


Thank you JohnWycliffe...I got a similar question wrong on an earlier lesson as well for that very reason. It makes sense now.


It sounds like the "n" in "havens" isn't pronounced. Is that correct?


Once again: marked incorrect when spoken correctly.This is ridiculous


How has Rotterdam not discovered Duolingo yet


One port at a plase. There can only be one at a place. So port not perts!


It doesn't accept "The havens of Amsterdam are important" answer, yet haven is an English word. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haven


Haven is more often used now in the figurative sense of a refuge: where it is still used in the original sense of a harbour it tends to refer to small harbours used for fishing or leisure rather than big commercial ports such Amsterdam. Or at least that is my feeling as a speaker of British English. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/haven


Gee whiz was all the above worth the effort?

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