victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 7 06:41:24 UTC 2011

Port n. has 10 different articles in the OED, plus five verbs and a number
of compounds that are listed separately. But, I promise you, you won't find
this one among them.

In a recent flyer for a local "discount" outlet, on the back-to-school page,
among other stationary, one may find a box for "Index Cards & Ports". That
immediately grabbed my attention because I could not imagine what they could
possibly be selling as "port". The pictures were too small to be meaningful,
but the breakdown of the units was more clear: 2-Pocket Ports and 2-Pocket
Fashion Ports. In other stores these are sold as school folders or ...
<cartoon light bulb> portfolios. Yes, indeed, this ad was hawking "pocket
portfolios" as "ports". I am still struggling referring to these as
portfolios. So would the OED:

1. a. A case or stiff folder for holding papers, prints, drawings, maps,
> etc. Also fig.

Note that a portfolio is supposed to be a /stiff/ folder. These might barely
qualify--manila folders are stiffer and they are still referred to as
"folders". In any case, mystery solved!

On an unrelated note, there is a port n.3 II. 5.c.

5. c. An aperture in a loudspeaker enclosure.

This is a very specific usage, as 5.a and b. are more general apertures in a
technical sense.

Under ported adj.1 2., there is only one entry:

 2. Of a machine or implement: having ports or apertures, esp. of a
> specified number.

The usage for different purposes (except for "walls" in 1.) is
undifferentiated. However, speakers may have two kinds of "ports"--the
opening into which a cone or other sound-generating device is inserted and
an aperture that remains open upon completion, except for a cylindrical
extension inside the body of the speaker. The latter "port" is a fairly
recent invention--about 25-30 years, at most. Speakers that have the latter
kind of port are usually referred to as "ported", but there is no
differentiated entry for this under ported adj.1.

Similarly, port n.10 refers to software that is intended of transfer to
another piece of hardware (OED definition uses "computer", but that's
actually too specific--it could be almost any piece of electronics that can
be coded) or the process of such transfer (OED defines them in
reverse--first the process, then the software that needs to be ported). But
there is no corresponding ported adj. for a description of such a piece of
software (i.e., ported software or code or app).


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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