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Wherefore (II)

July 21, 2014

In yesterday’s Indie on Sunday, reviewing golfer Sergio Garcia’s performance at the Open Championship, Paul Mahoney wrote: “Oh Sergio, Sergio, wherefore art thou, Sergio?”

I’ve blogged before about this misunderstanding, but it will probably always be with us, so here we go again. Wherefore does not mean where, as Mahoney evidently believes (that last comma is the giveaway). It means why. When Juliet says “Wherefore art though Romeo?” she is not enquiring as to his whereabouts, but asking why he is Romeo – ie, why couldn’t he have been someone else, someone whose family were not sworn enemies of her family?

A good way to keep the true meaning of wherefore in mind is to recall that it’s related to the word therefore, not the word there. Or remember the pleonastic expression the whys and the wherefores.

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One Comment
  1. Ianb permalink

    A typo gremlin surely at work turning ‘thou’ into ‘though’.
    Another writer denies pleonasm in the phrase ‘whys and wherefores’ by distinguishing them as ‘from what cause?’ and ‘for what purpose?’. Perhaps, but archaic now.
    A different thought, triggered from writing the above. It’s not often that I use three consecutive punctuation marks – what’s the longest string of PMs that can make sense?

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