Whence and hence

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aguacate
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Whence and hence

Postby aguacate » Mon Jan 07, 2008 7:20 pm UTC

My algebra teacher uses whence a lot where I would have expected him to use hence. He is always mentioning word histories as new words get brought up in lectures and in his speech it is obvious that he tries consciously to use a very precise vocabulary, so I can only assume he picks whence over hence for a good reason. After doing a quick google all I could come up with is that hence and whence can be used as synonyms in certain situations.

Which one is a better choice for which situation, etymologically speaking?
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Dingbats » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:43 pm UTC

hence = from here
whence = from where (both as in question where and relative where)

Make of that what you will.

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Re: Whence and hence

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:32 am UTC

and there's also "thence", which means "from there".

hither/thither/whither are the same but with "to" instead of "from".
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Jobo » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:43 am UTC

But you have to use from with whence, don't you? At least, every time I've seen it use, it has had the from. From whence it came, etc. Would you be correct saying, "Whence did he come?" These are words I would like to start using.

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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Asleep or Wrong » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:36 am UTC

It's pretty common to drop prepositions in the beginning of a sentence of that form. E.g. "[To] where are you going?"

edit: could someone put the difference between all these crazy pronouns in more linguistitastic terms? like whence is interrogative but how does it relate with where &c.

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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Number3Pencils » Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:06 am UTC

I feel compelled to post this.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Robin S » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:27 am UTC

You win one point for linguistic-comedic awesomeness.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby liza » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:28 pm UTC

I'd just like to interject that I really wished we still used these words. Unfortunately, I get weird looks for "therein", so I'm not expanding my everyday vocabulary to include "herefore", "whence", and "thither". Even though those are fun words.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby JayDee » Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:41 am UTC

Don't give up! Learn to savor the weird looks.

Hmm. Herefore is the only word in that chart that I don't currently use (admittedly, I only use 'hither and thither' as a pair.)
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aguacate
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby aguacate » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:11 am UTC

OK, I think I've got it.

If you make statement P and wish to smoothly statement Q, an implication of P, then you use "whence".


Example:

"All prime numbers greater than 2 are odd, whence 22 is not prime."


Hence on the other hand is used to start a statement, and if I wished to employ hence in the previous example, I should properly use a semicolon or a period.

"All prime numbers greater than 2 are odd. Hence 22 is not prime."

Am I on the right track? I think what I'm saying is that 'whence' is a conjunction whereas 'hence' is a... something else.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby armorsmith42 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:15 am UTC

No. You would use the word "hence". This word still survives and is still used with this meaning.

some dude wrote:you left at 3:30. you got here at 4:30. Hence, the trip took an hour.

the point that is referred to in "from this point" is the statement P you just made. You are not asking a question, so you don't use wh-.

you appear to be using whence to mean "which is why". even though it includes the word "why" it is not interrogative because "why" is really shorthand for "the reason"
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Asleep or Wrong » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:08 am UTC

I think some of that confusion might be because, for many cases in English (also a bunch of other IE languages I think), the interrogative and the relative pronoun are collapsed into one word.

edit: Just looked at some dictionaries, there are many cases of whence as a relative pronoun. The wording in aguacate's example still seems terribly awkward.

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Re: Whence and hence

Postby evilbeanfiend » Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:10 am UTC

is anyone else wanting to 'invent' what/hat/that and when/hen/then ?
maybe even why/high/thigh :lol:
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Asleep or Wrong » Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:21 pm UTC

Regarding general demonstrative neuter pronouns in english they are split between vowels (ae and i) rather than the th/h system. Something closer to what you're aiming for might be the simple neuter third pronoun "hit." idk i'm not a comparative linguist.
couldn't find any hen type things. :(
why's "hwȳ," derived from the instrumental of the indefinite pronoun. could a person who kens this stuff better than i figure out if hwȳ/hu/þý make up that set or if they're just unrelated words I'm stringing together out of hope?

the more i look at it the more it's dawning on me that old english is the best language in the history of ever. screw sanskrit, OE is "is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious [probably not] than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either."

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Ari
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Ari » Fri Jan 11, 2008 8:38 am UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:is anyone else wanting to 'invent' what/hat/that and when/hen/then ?
maybe even why/high/thigh :lol:


Sure, and then we can tell our exciting new system of interrogatives and other related words to all the mices, sheeps, and fishes! ;)

edit: (I like systematic language, but there's such a thing as going too far. If you're going to use those, drop them occasionally for comedic value. ;) )
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Number3Pencils » Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:03 pm UTC

As a matter of interest, Esperanto (the most popular invented language) does keep this pattern scrupulously with each of its nine question words. (Kio, kial, kie, kiel, kies, kiu, kia, kiom, kiam. That one is "ti-", this one is "cxi ti-", none is "neni-", and all is "cxi-".)
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby lowbart » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:26 pm UTC

Am I the only person that thinks people overuse "hence" in a way that seems vaguely incorrect?

For example - "This is my new robot. His name is Crusher. He crushes things. Hence, the name!"

Usually it seems to be 10-13 year olds that do this - the same ones that think they understand sarcasm and that it makes them super cool.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby Supergrunch » Fri Feb 01, 2008 4:11 pm UTC

lowbart wrote:Am I the only person that thinks people overuse "hence" in a way that seems vaguely incorrect?

For example - "This is my new robot. His name is Crusher. He crushes things. Hence, the name!"

Usually it seems to be 10-13 year olds that do this - the same ones that think they understand sarcasm and that it makes them super cool.

I see nothing wrong with that usage - "From here, the name!" Then again, in other cases I think thence would be more correct: "Look at the raptor barricade surrounding my house. Thence it is known as an impenetrable fortress!"

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lowbart
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby lowbart » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:01 pm UTC

Yeah, but they overuse it. Partly because of stupid TV shows like Drake & Josh and Zack & Cody.
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Re: Whence and hence

Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:57 pm UTC

hmm can hence and thence be used interchangeably? there doesn't seem to be a strict definition of what the 'this' and 'that' would mean unlike in here and there.
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