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Posted by ESC on March 04, 2002

In Reply to: Whereabouts? posted by Word Camel on March 04, 2002

: : : Why is it that no matter what a person's background, or what side of the pond they hail from, when confronted by someone from the same region, they ask "Where abouts?". As far as I can work out, this is either an archaic way of asking where, or an affectation of a pseudo down-home-in-the-Bayou way of speaking. Any thoughts?

: : Whereabouts... one word in my way of thinking. Adverbially it definitely has a different connotation when compared to "where". It asks for an approximation of location, and is less preremptory than a short sharp "where". It is of course also a noun, meaning again "approximate location".

: : As to "whereabouts" being archaic, it's happily in current usage as far as I am concerned, though its origination looks like it might stem from the same timeframe as those other "where" adverbial and conjunctival constructs still favoured in German - whither, whence, whereat, wherein and so on.

: I suppose I was thinking it might be archaic because it's hardly ever used except in the instance I described.

I used the term "whereabouts" recently. I titled an e-mail "My Whereabouts," informing my coworkers where I would be on a particular morning. When we meet someone new in West Virginia/Kentucky, we say, "Where are you from?" "Where do you call home?" Old folks ask, "Whose boy are you?" or "Whose girl are you?" Meaning, who are your parents, who are your people.

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