Monday, October 10, 2011

Word Watch ~ "Where"

As I've been reading the King James Version of the Bible during 2011 in honor of its 400th anniversary, I've been struck by so many turns of phrases and unusual words and usages. I've decided to share them, and any other interesting bits of philology I come across elsewhere, with my vast readership. I should have started in January, alas, since I have noticed so many good examples in the intervening months, but since I can't turn back the clock I'll just start here. This will be a periodic series with entries occuring as words and phrases present themselves. This isn't professional analysis; I'm just a rank amateur who thinks words and their usages and development fascinating.


Usually we see "where" as an adverb, but there is a verse in the English folksong "Searching for Lambs" that uses it as a noun:

“How gloriously the sun doth shine,
How pleasant is the air.
I'd rather rest on a true love's breast
Than any other where.”

I was intrigued by the noun usage the first time I heard it almost two years ago, but then imagine my surprise when I was reading Matthew 8 a last week and ran across this: "And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."


I was shocked! I have read the KJV many times in my younger days, but that particular usage never stood out to me until now. I was probably too young to notice or care before now. Oh, the folly of youth! Do you know of other instances in which "where" is used as a noun?

P.S. I'm still reading (and loving!) The Wind in the Willows and listening to (and enjoying!) The Wee Free Men. Reviews coming ASAP!

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