Quidem as a Marker of Emphatic Polarity


  • This research was funded by a postdoctoral grant of the ‘Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds’ (BOF) of Ghent University, grant No. BOF11/PDO/042. I would like to thank Liliane Haegeman for first suggesting that I explore the relation between quidem's ‘veridical’ lexical semantics and the syntactic phenomenon of emphatic polarity. Furthermore, many thanks to Wolfgang de Melo, Caroline Kroon and the audience of the 2009 OIKOS workshop in Katwijk for helpful feedback, and to one particularly careful reviewer whose comments and criticisms substantially improved both content and organization of this paper. Needless to say, all shortcomings are mine.


The present paper deals with the (morpho)syntax and the interpretation of the Latin particle quidem. At the morphosyntactic level, it is argued that quidem can be characterized as a weak adverb, and that it is the middle member of a tripartite paradigm with strong equidem and clitic -quidem as the two other members. As to the syntax of quidem, it is contended that the particle always takes scope over an entire proposition, and that it never induces constituent focus. It is shown that the element to the left of quidem can be a focus, a topic or a discourse-neutral constituent, and that the pragmatic status of this element is never affected by the presence of quidem. Finally, two claims are made about the interpretation of quidem. First, it is proposed that quidem is a marker of affirmative polarity, rather than a modal adverb. Second, in accordance with many previous accounts that consider quidem to be a focus particle, quidem is characterized as a marker of emphatic affirmative polarity, which emphasizes that the state of affairs expressed by a given proposition does indeed hold. Under this view, quidem can be considered a marker of verum focus.