What does Porta O Theos mean?
May 30, 2005 11:21 AM   Subscribe

My parents saw a bumper sticker that says Porta O Theos on it, and don't know what it means.

Googling finds many greek language discussions containing the text, but not much of a clue on its meaning, and there's a mention of another person trying to figure out the same thing. Greek -> English translators didn't help. Thanks.
posted by apathy0o0 to Society & Culture (9 answers total)
Googling got zero results for me -- are you sure you copied it correctly? Porta is 'door' and theos is 'god,' but "door the god" doesn't make any sense. (You could, of course, say "God is the Door" or the like, but that wouldn't be this phrase.)
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: I transposed the letters, it's Prota like in this this.
posted by apathy0o0 at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2005

Actually, in modern Greek at least, it could, in theory, mean 'Door of God'. Perhaps they mean 'Door /to/ God', though that ought to be 'Porta sto Theos'. Either way, 'God is the Door' would not come from that grammar. That would be something like 'O Theos einai to porta'. But in Greek, you couldn't leave it hanging that way... you would have to say what He was the door to explicitly. 'The Door' doesn't have any metaphysical implications on its own.

Again, all this using modern Greek as a basis. I'm not familiar with Bible Greek.
posted by the_savage_mind at 11:48 AM on May 30, 2005

I'm not much use at greek, but at a guess I'd say it was something like "god first" or "god is most important". Something religious anyway, but I suppose you'd already guessed that.
posted by fvw at 12:14 PM on May 30, 2005

Its use on this page in German might offer some help. I don't speak German, but the Babelfish translation is pretty comprehensible (languagehat, are you still on the case?):
Do not let the head hang! I have also a unsuccessful IVF attempt behind me. At the beginning for me very with difficulty, in the meantime am it I was again better and now prepare I so slowly on the 2. IVF attempt forwards (Prota o theos, how one says in Greece) I hopes that it goes this time well.
Some kind of inspirational saying?
posted by climalene at 12:28 PM on May 30, 2005

hmm...I found this on a Greek Soccer Forum:

My daughter and I will travel by car (prota o theos) to central - south Florida the day after XMAS for 5-6 days tour, home base at Winter Haven, is it easy to meet anyone of you guys? Dinner or lunch on me.

Perhaps something like - God Willing
posted by LadyBonita at 12:32 PM on May 30, 2005

Best answer: I asked my Greek co-worker. He said that it's a Greek colloquialism that's best translated as "God willing" (as LadyBonita guessed), and that it literally translates as "First, God" (as fvw guessed.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:37 PM on May 30, 2005

Yeah, big difference, Prota meaning First. God before everyone/everything.
posted by the_savage_mind at 1:43 PM on May 30, 2005

I transposed the letters

Dammit, Jim, I'm a linguist, not a miracle worker!

Yeah, on seeing the correct spelling, that's what it means, all right. Although it could also be taken as parallel to "Ladies first" (Prota i kiries). No, no, you've got the thunderbolt -- after you!
posted by languagehat at 5:06 PM on May 30, 2005

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