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Whence, hence and thence

(21 Posts)
giulia Thu 21-Jun-18 06:27:12

I was asked recently, in connection with the origin of a person's name, "Whence the name?"
I do not live in the UK so am out of touch with how people speak these days. However, I found the question structure archaic.
PS: I teach English as a Second Language - hence my curiosity.

JackyB Thu 21-Jun-18 06:46:33

They are very useful words. The alternative in the example given would be "Where does that name come from?" which is much longer and more cumbersome. So it's a good thing that they are enjoying a comeback.

Having spoken German now for so many years, I would also applaud the use of "whither" and "thither", but as monolingual English speakers have so much trouble differentiating between the nominative and the accusative (e.g. "She brought some flowers for my husband and I"), I fear that they would be even more confused by where/whence/whither and there/thence /thither. So let's enjoy the correct use of "whence" for the time being.

OldMeg Thu 21-Jun-18 07:09:07

I agree Jacky. I think the use of ‘whence’ was appropriate as two educated adults were talking with each other.

Maggiemaybe Thu 21-Jun-18 08:05:30

I agree, JackyB, it’s good to see these words back in use. I’m not quite so pleased though to see/hear hence why, which seems to be getting more common.

sodapop Thu 21-Jun-18 09:23:43

They are useful words but not I fear ones in general usage any more. I would think only older people would use these words in general conversation.
I love words and hate to see our vocabulary eroded and replaced by text speak type conversation.
I know language evolves and changes over time but I do like to have a conversation with proper words.

Maggiemaybe Thu 21-Jun-18 09:28:21

I think it’s more the younger ones who are reviving hence, sodapop. Albeit with a superfluous why following on. grin

FarNorth Thu 21-Jun-18 09:32:36

There are a few common phrases, using these words, that most people would understand e.g. 'Come hither' 'Get thee hence', yet they wouldn't be able to tell you the meaning of higher or hence, if they didn't think of the phrase.

Let's start using these words more often, especially in texts, and see if we can popularise them, along with thrice and twice. smile

FarNorth Thu 21-Jun-18 09:33:47

Hither or hence, obv!

annodomini Thu 21-Jun-18 10:52:06

I know I shouldn't get hot under the collar about misuse or misunderstandings, but one that always annoys me is that so many people seem to think that 'Wherefore art thou Romeo?' means 'where are you?' This play is so frequently taught in the run-up to GCSE Eng Lit that surely teachers have told generations of teenagers that it means 'Why are you Romeo?' though Shakespeare would have made more sense if Juliet's words were 'Wherefore art thou Montague?' Oh tell me to shut up!

FarNorth Thu 21-Jun-18 11:10:05

Thank you, annodomini. I've learnt something there - (never studied Romeo & Juliet at school.)

Might Romeo be a particular family name and so was as meaningful as Montague?

Doodle Thu 21-Jun-18 22:03:58

anno being a dunce who also thought it meant where are you, what does Juliet mean by Why are you Romeo? Was it Why, are you Romeo? I could understand that but Why are you Romeo I don't understand 🤔.

OldMeg Thu 21-Jun-18 22:33:41

Juliet’s family and Romeo’s families, the Capulets and Montagues (don’t ask which is which I can never remember) are bitter enemies. That is what she is referring to...ie why do you have to be a ...whatever.

Just like the star crossed lovers in West Side Story from rival families (based on R&J)

chelseababy Fri 22-Jun-18 10:26:56

It's JuliET CapulET

mcem Fri 22-Jun-18 10:34:49

Juliet also says, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".
Meaning that the name is irrelevant!
If a rose were called a hogweed it would be no more or less fragrant.

lemongrove Fri 22-Jun-18 11:10:18

Whither goest thou?

kittylester Fri 22-Jun-18 12:27:37

But, we have an ever evolving language (for better or for worse) and we shouldn't be stuck in the past.

FarNorth Fri 22-Jun-18 15:13:05

Things can be retrieved from the past to live anew, kittylester.
Like the @ symbol which had a very niche use and is now seen everywhere.

(I wonder if some young people think @ is a cool new thing.)

annodomini Fri 22-Jun-18 15:20:33

Juliet actually says: 'That which we call a rose would smell as sweet'.

mcem Fri 22-Jun-18 15:54:45

"That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!"
Was editing!

grumppa Fri 22-Jun-18 17:05:47

Just as she says "And I'll no longer be a Capulet," Juliet would have had to say "Wherefore art thou a Montague," which doesn't scan so well. Shakespeare could have written "why" rather than "wherefore," and everyone would have known what she meant. But the longing expressed in her saying Romeo three times would have been lost.

I used to be driven mad by someone who said "Whence hence" when he meant "Where shall we go next?"

grannyactivist Sat 23-Jun-18 00:04:54

One of the reasons I so enjoy talking with my father-in-law is that we share a passion for using words that might leave other family members scratching their heads and wondering what on earth we were saying. His lexicon is rooted in a time when having a broad vocabulary was an indication of being well read; which he is.
Apart from an encyclopaedia I won in a competition there wasn't a single book in the house when I was growing up, but as a child I was an avid reader and absolutely loved learning new words and would literally sit and read a dictionary when I had chance to.