Years ago reading J R R Tolkien’s Silmarillion, I learned the delightful suﬃxes ‑ence and ‑ither used in this threefold set of paired words with these meanings:
- hence: from this nearby place
- hither: toward this nearby place
- thence: from that far place
- thither: toward that far place
- whence: from which place
- whither: toward which place
Recently, as a joke to use such words, I sent a friend an SMS message:
Later I’ll arrive at your place. I will go hence thither, and return thence hither. Haha.
Now in creating this question, I’ve realized that there is at least one more suﬃx that combines this way, ‑ere:
I hadn’t thought about it as a member of a set of three until today, because it’s in everyday use. But ‑ence and ‑ither have all but vanished from casual everyday speech, and so when someone uses these it makes a spoken or written sentence more interesting.
So we have the set of three preﬁxes h‑, th-, and wh‑ that all combine with another set of three suﬃxes ‑ere, ‑ence, and ‑ither to make nine different combinations of derived words we can use as locative and directional ‘adverbs’:
‑ere ‑ence ‑ither ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ h‑ ┃ here hence hither th- ┃ there thence thither wh‑ ┃ where whence whither
Or grouped the other direction:
h‑ th- wh‑ ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ‑ere ┃ here there where ‑ence ┃ hence thence whence ‑ither ┃ hither thither whither
Do other such suﬃxes exist that combine with that same threefold preﬁx-set of [h‑, th-, wh‑] to make more “h‑/th‑/wh‑ words” like these?
Do other such preﬁxes exist that combine with the same threefold suﬃx-set of [‑ere, ‑ence, ‑ither] to make more “‑ere/‑ence/‑ither words” like these?
Is there some essay or discussion about these and related elements somewhere out there that explains all this a little?
Extra thought: consider ‑at as some sort of suﬃx, as in:
- While I’m not sure if there’s ever been a word starting with h‑ for ‘nearby’, everyone knows the idiom this, that, the other, so I could suggest this instead of ✻hat which appears not to exist. Right?
Another extra thought: also consider ‑en as some sort of suﬃx, as in:
- Why is ✻hen also missing here like ✻hat is missing from the set of three ‑at words just given above?