YONDER

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YONDER

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:19 am

• yonder •

Pronunciation: yahn-dêr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adverb, Adjective

Meaning: At some distance from the speaker and listener (you and I).

Notes: Today's Good Word (and it is a good word) is heard mostly in the Southern US states and a few other dialects. To say that something is "over yonder" is to indicate that it is at some distance from the speaker and listener in a conversation. The early Indo-European language, mother of most of the languages in Europe and Northern India, apparently made three position distinctions: near me (here), near you (there) and somewhere else (yonder).

In Play: Serbian is a language that preserves this distinction, though in Serbian, too, the third adverb is disappearing: ovde "here", tamo "there" and onde "over there". So yonder comes from good stock. Southerners often emphasize the difference by using the phrases "right here" and "over yonder" (and not just for the benefit of Yankees): "Don't keep standing over yonder; I need you right here!" But who could have used the word more elegantly than Shakespeare's Romeo at first sight of Juliet by her window: "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?"

Word History: This word is ancient. It is amazing that it still exists even in dialects. It is an extension of the archaic yon, which we can access now only in poetry written before the 20th century: "By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes, where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond." Yon comes from the same roots as German jene "that, those", the Sanskrit pronoun, anena "that (one)", and the 3rd person pronoun in Serbian and other Slavic languages, on "he, it", ona "she, it", and ono "it". The root of this word appears in at least one other English word, beyond, which is where you go if you walk past yonder. (Today's Good Word comes from over yonder at the Alpha Agora, a suggestion from Perry Dror, to whom we bow in gratitude.)
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Re: YONDER

Postby sluggo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:49 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote: Serbian is a language that preserves this distinction, though in Serbian, too, the third adverb is disappearing: ovde "here", tamo "there" and onde "over there". So yonder comes from good stock.
On an interesting but unconnected (?) note, onde is Portuguese for "where" (cf. Spanish donde)

We still (some of us) use the archaic/poetic hither and yon...

Seems to me "right here" and "over yonder" would be simple tools of emphasizing the proximity.
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Re: YONDER

Postby Slava » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:41 pm

sluggo wrote:Seems to me "right here" and "over yonder" would be simple tools of emphasizing the proximity.
Would you agree that we could use "there" in between these concepts? I feel that "over yonder" is farther away than, say, the next room.

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Postby sluggo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:45 pm

I would. It seems while Doc points out that yonder is fading into archaity, we still have three distinct degrees.

So does French:
ici = here;
= there;
là-bas = yonder (more at "down there")

I suspect this is a necessary expression and we'll continue to employ it even if we do lose yonder, probably through the redundant over there/down there or even 'way over there.
Last edited by sluggo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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là-bas

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:06 pm

Sorry, là-bas doesn't count. It is not a basic word but a derivation. Là may be combined with other words. No hyphenations. I was talking about a basically different way of thinking of things.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:08 pm

Not sure I follow, Doc-- why don't hyphens count? French uses them quite readily especially with là and ci to define the position. It's just the way they do it. And là-bas is used in the same sense as yonder, is it not? Or do you mean it has no older, possibly archaic, standalone word?

French does have a much smaller corpus than English, necessitating compound words where we have dedicated terms ("camera" comes to mind; appareil (de) photo)
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Postby saparris » Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:20 pm

Would you agree that we could use "there" in between these concepts? I feel that "over yonder" is farther away than, say, the next room.
As a Southerner, I can tell you that there is a "here," a "there," and a "yonder," but the distances that define "there" and "yonder" are relative.

It's perfectly acceptable to say that the scissors are "over yonder" and mean that they are across the room in a desk drawer. "Over yonder" could also be several miles away, as in "that gas station over yonder by Wal-Mart is open until midnight."

Now, "way over yonder" is something else again, since "way over yonder" is always a right fur piece from where you're at.
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