There is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwar (where) + *furi (for/fore) which means something very similar to "for what" (and not "for where"), and similarly there is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *þar (there) + *furi (for/fore) which mean something very similar to "for that" (not "for there").

Some examples:

  • English:
    • "wherefore" functionally means "for what [reason]"
    • "therefore" functionally means "for that [reason]"
  • Afrikaans
    • "waarvoor" functionally means "vir wat" / "vir watter rede"
    • "daarvoor" functionally means "vir dit" / "vir daardie rede"
  • Dutch
    • "waarvoor" functionally means "voor wat"
    • "daarvoor" functionally means "voor dat"

Similar examples exists in Norwegian bokmål "hvorfor" for "for hva", "derfor" for "for det" or "for at". German "wofür" for "für was" and "dafür" for "für das". There is also related "herefore" and "hiervoor" that is incredibly similar to "therefore" and ilk.

The question is why are the conjunctions not of descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwat (what) + *furi (for/fore) and *þat (that) + *furi (for/fore) instead?

I guess there is no way to know for sure but any additional info on this matter would be welcome.

The following may also be somewhat related to this:

  • Norwegian bokmål "hvor" which means where in general and how (to what degree) in specific cases.
  • 1
    reminds of wer oder was; wem oder woher??? (OHG wiu, moder grammar says wem oder was, but nobody uses was for dative of origin, nor neuter dative es, though dem).
    – vectory
    Feb 10 '20 at 7:27
  • 2
    Anyway, since nobody's answering, I'll have a go at just guessing: Proto-Germanic certainly had cases (which is shown by German still having cases), and it actually conflated the dative with the old locative. Now, if prepositions like *furi required a dative case, at least in come circumstances, that would make it natural to use pronouns in a case that looks the same as the locative. Now locative is completely done, I believe, but these compounds are pretty sturdy, as shown by many language keeping them.
    – LjL
    Feb 10 '20 at 11:19
  • 1
    I don't know the details, but I'm sure @LjL is right.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 10 '20 at 18:23
  • @LjL No reason to call other users daft, but for what it's worth I just voted Leave Open.
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 19 '20 at 6:08
  • 1
    It’s not just for – in pretty much all Germanic languages, the form used when creating a compound pronoun/adverb consisting of an interrogative pronoun plus a preposition is identical in form to the simplex meaning where: in English wherewith, wherefrom, whereupon, whereby, etc. This holds also for German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese… Not sure it holds for Icelandic, because I don’t think this type of compounding exists at all there. Not sure off the top of my head where it comes from. Must be some frozen case form or other originally, but it is odd that it’s always where. Apr 14 '20 at 22:21

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