According to the Rolling Stones, the devil introduces himself as a man of wealth and taste. We use the verb to introduce in a meeting to represent the act of adding a new piece (a person) to a situation.
Not only English uses that concept; Norwegian (introdusere) has the same root and meaning. But it also has presentere, cognate of Danish præsentere and Swedish presentera.
That form is actually the most common in the other european languages. The verb for introducing somebody is made from the prefix pre, meaning “before”, and a lemma derived rom the Latin sedens (seated). In the end, the action is likened to “sit in front of somebody”. That’s how we got Spanish presentar, Portuguese apresentar, French présenter, Italian presentare, and Romanian prezenta.
Dutch and German appear to have a tough love approach, and instead of sitting before the audience, they stand. They use voorstellen and vorstellen, respectively.
This pattern of likening an introduction to performing an action in front of an audience holds as well in other languages. Finnish, from the Uralic family, has esitellä, a frequentative form of esittää, where the esi- prefix means “before” and the root means “play a role”.
To play us out, and thanks to my friend Fadi, today I can go out of my limited European comfort zone and offer you the Arabic side of things! مقدمة، قدم is one of the words they have for “introduction” and literally means “bring forth” (yay for patterns!). It’s translitered as “moukaddama”, so… well, take that as just a guideline of a possible pronunciation.
Originally published in The blind mouse.