1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

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.

1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In this opening section, I give a brief overview of earlier studies of quidem.1 For ease of exposition, I have subdivided these earlier treatments into two groups. First, I discuss studies that assume that quidem has more than one meaning (so-called ‘polysemy-based’ approaches). Next, I turn to analyses that claim that quidem has one core meaning or function (‘monosemy-based’ approaches). All of the studies mentioned are briefly evaluated.

1.1. Polysemy-based approaches

The Oxford Latin Dictionary (s.v. quidem) offers a host of possible translations for quidem, including ‘certainly’, ‘indeed’, ‘at any rate’, ‘in fact’, ‘assuredly’ and ‘admittedly’. Similarly, Forcellini's dictionary (s.v. quidem) suggests Italian translations like ‘certamente’, ‘di vero’ and ‘per verità’, and French renderings like ‘il est vrai’, ‘à la vérité’, ‘je l'avoue’, ‘sans doute’ and ‘assurément’. It therefore comes as no surprise that many people have proposed that quidem has more than one meaning. The most important polysemy-based accounts of quidem are two older philological studies, namely Grossmann (1880) and Ludewig (1891), which are complementary in the sense that they discuss the use of quidem in different periods. These two works mainly concentrate on the lexical semantics of quidem rather than on its discourse function. They both adopt the strategy of establishing a taxonomy of different types of quidem and of attributing to each type a (slightly) different meaning. For instance, Grossmann (1880) lists the following six kinds of quidem: quidem restrictiuum (pp. 22ff.), quidem explicatiuum (pp. 44ff.), quidem concessiuum (pp. 61ff.), quidem continuatiuum (pp. 70ff.), quidem affirmatiuum (pp. 85ff.) and quidem aduersatiuum (pp. 104ff.). A number of relevant examples are given below, with the explicative use in (1), the concessive use in (2) and the continuative use in (3):

(1)Sed tamen in ea uoluptate hunc accepi dolorem quod, cum incendisses cupiditatemmeam consuetudinis augendae nostrae (nam ad amorem quidem nihil poterat accedere), tum discedis a nobis […].
‘Still, there was a hint of pain as well among all this joy, since after having inflamed my desire to be in touch with you more often (it being impossible to add anything to our mutual affection), you just go away.’ (= Cic. Fam. 15.21.1)
(2)Dissimilis quidem Chares horum et factis et moribus, sed tamen Athenis et honoratus et potens.
‘It is true that Chares differed from them both in his actions and in his character, but nevertheless in Athens he was an esteemed and powerful man.’ (= Cor. Nep. Chabr. 3.4)
(3)Praeterea quidem de consularibus nemini possum aut studi erga te aut offici aut amici animi esse testis.
‘Furthermore, for none of the Consulars can I testify anything about good will, service or sympathy towards you.’ (= Cic. Fam. 1.7.3)

Examples like (1)–(3) illustrate a major problem with these and other polysemy-based treatments of quidem, namely that very often, properties of elements present in the context are attributed to quidem itself. Consider for instance (1), which exhibits the type of quidem that is characterized by Grossmann as ‘explicative’. Now it does indeed seem correct that the parenthetical clause in (1) explains a particular element from the previous clause, but in all likelihood, this semantic relation is encoded by nam (underscored) rather than by quidem (on the ‘explicative’ function of nam, see Kroon 1995). Similarly, tamen (‘still, nevertheless’) in (2) signals that a relation of concessivity holds between the two phrases conjoined by sed, and in (3), the connective praeterea (‘furthermore’) indicates that a given proposition constitutes a continuation of the preceding piece of discourse. In other words, treatments like the one by Grossmann (1880) seem to teach us more about the context in which quidem appears than about quidem itself.2 A second, and perhaps equally important drawback, is that in Grossmann (1880) and Ludewig (1891), very little attention is paid to the pragmatics associated with quidem. Nowadays, there is a broad consensus that the function of discourse particles is to a large extent pragmatic in nature. By only looking at the lexical semantics of a given particle, important insights are likely to be missed.

In sum, it seems that the existing polysemy-based approaches to quidem are not very satisfactory. I now turn to approaches that have sought to offer a unified account of quidem.

1.2. Monosemy-based approaches

A first proponent of the view that all instantiations of quidem share a common core is Solodow (1978). In this monograph, it is proposed that the basic3 meaning of quidem is ‘contrastivity’; thus Solodow (1978: 13):

quidem essentially emphasizes …, but it does so in a special way, always with reference to something else. … The basic use of quidem is to set up the first half of a contrast.4

Let us see how this account fares. A number of examples in which quidem appears in the first half of a contrast are given in (4)–(7). Typically, the second of the two contrasted elements is accompanied by a contrastive connective like sed (4)–(5), autem (6) or uero (7):

(4)Sensi ergo, ut dicebam, quandam non quidem perturbationem, sed mutationem.
‘So I experienced, as I said, some kind of change, not confusion.’ (= Sen. Epi. 57.6)
(5)Id haud magnum quidem oppidum est, sed plus quam mediterraneum celebre et frequens emporium.
‘This (viz. Gordium LD) is indeed not a big city, but it is better known and more frequently visited than other inland cities.’ (= Liv. aUc 38.18.11)
(6)Et Cicero quidem in rhetoricis iudicium subiecit inuentioni: mihi autem […] tribus primis partibus uidetur esse permixtum.
‘And yes, Cicero in his Rhetoric puts ‘judgment’ under ‘invention’. To me however it seems intimately related to the three first parts.’ (= Quint. I.O. 3.3.6)
(7)Et in croco quidem flos inpellitur caule, in scilla uero caulis exit.
‘In the crocus the flower is pushed up by the stem, but in the squill it is the stem that appears outward.’ (= Plin. N.H. 21.106)

Do we on the basis of these examples really have to conclude that quidem is to be characterized as basically ‘contrasting’ (as does Solodow 1978: 30)? There seem to be at least three reasons for answering this question negatively. First of all, the same criticism as the one expressed with respect to the polysemy-based approaches in the previous section applies to Solodow's monosemy claim: a property of elements in the context in which quidem frequently appears, namely contrastive connectives, is wrongfully attributed to quidem itself. Second, the presence of quidem is never required to express a contrast between two constituents or propositions: on a par with (4), one finds very similar examples without quidem, like (8):

(8)Hoc quoque idem aliquatenus nouat, quod prooemio non narrationem subiungit, sed propositionem.
‘He (viz. Aristotle LD) also makes the following slight innovation: after the prooemium he places the “proposition” rather than the “narration”.’ (= Quint. I.O. 3.9.5)

Third, there are examples of complex sentences conjoined by sed in which quidem occurs in the second rather than in the first half of a contrast:5

(9)Non mihi uxor aut filius patre et re publica cariores sunt, sed illum quidem sua maiestas, imperium Romanum ceteri exercitus defendent.
‘My wife and my son are not dearer to me than my father and the state, but the former will be protected by his own dignity, and the Roman empire will be safeguarded by the other armies.’ (= Tac. Ann. 1.42)

In sum, it seems that Solodow's account is not satisfactory either. This is not to say that his basic insight is completely mistaken: it is indeed the case that quidem very often occurs in one of two contrastively juxtaposed clauses or noun phrases. However, in Danckaert (in prep.), it is suggested the high frequency of the co-occurrence of quidem with contrastive connectives follows from the semantics of the latter and not of the former. In other words, connectives like sed and autem can be said to (optionally) trigger the insertion of quidem, but not the other way around.

A second monosemy-based approach is developed in Kroon (2005; 2009), who assumes that the common core of all instantiations of quidem is one single discourse function rather than one lexical meaning. More specifically, she argues that quidem is a discourse marker that characterizes its host constituent as a separate discourse unit (a ‘discourse move’). Thus Kroon (2005: 577):

quidem is used with a text unit which, from a communicative point of view, constitutes an autonomous discourse act, while from a grammatical perspective it is integrated in the semantico-syntactic structure of a preceding unit.

Kroon's proposal certainly has an intuitive appeal, since quidem is often found in nominal appositions (10), appositive relative clauses6 (11) and parentheticals (12):7

(10)Quin ad hunc, Philaenium, adgredimur, uirum quidem pol optumum et non similem furis huius?
‘Why don't we go up to him, Philaenium? He's an excellent fellow, nothing like that thief over there.’ (= Plaut. As. 680–1)
(11)Merito hoc nobis fit, qui quidem huc uenerimus.
‘This righteously happens to us, who came here.’ (= Plaut. Bacch. 1123)
(12)Omnino, ut mihi quidem uidetur, studiorum omnium satietas uitae facit satietatem.
‘In general, at least to my opinion, an aversion of all passions gives rise to an aversion of life itself.’ (= Cic. Sen. 20.76)

However, her claim seems to be too strong, since quidem is also frequently found in regular main clauses. Such is the case in the declarative main clause in (13) or the rhetorical question in (14), which, ‘from a grammatical perspective’, are not all syntactically embedded:

(13)Mala crux east quidem.
‘She's a plague, that's for sure!’ (= Plaut. Cas. 416)
(14)Diligentiam quidem nostram aut […] fortunam cur praeteream?
‘As for my diligence or fortune, why would I pass over them?’ (= Caes. Bel. Civ. 2.32)

Although some aspects of Kroon's analysis are problematic, it in my view correctly assumes that the basic ‘meaning’ of quidem is not a purely lexico-semantic one (i.e. something you could readily find as a translation in a dictionary), but that the common denominator of all instantiations of quidem is a fairly abstract one.8 Crucially, Kroon avoids the pitfall of importing elements from the context into the meaning of quidem itself.

1.3. Scope and outline of the paper

In the remainder of this paper, I offer a monosemic account of quidem, in line with Kroon (2005; 2009). Before doing so, I first discuss some important (morpho)syntactic properties of quidem (section 2). In section 3, I argue that quidem always has sentential scope. I suggest that the impression that quidem can induce constituent focus arises among other things from the morphosyntactic status of quidem as a weak adverb (in the sense of Cardinaletti & Starke 1999). Next, I turn to the interpretation of quidem (sections 4 and 5). Departing from Kroon's work, I develop an account in which quidem always has two meaning components, a semantic and a discourse-pragmatic one. The semantic meaning component that I distinguish is one of affirmative polarity, whereas the pragmatic role of quidem is claimed to be a focalizing one. My proposal can be considered ‘monosemy-based’, albeit that I assume that the single common core of all instantiations of quidem is not atomic.

Before starting the discussion, I will make two final remarks concerning the delimitation of the empirical focus of this paper. The first point to be clarified concerns the extent to which I take my conclusions on quidem to be valid for what seem to be quidem's siblings, namely the clitic adverb -quidem and the full adverb equidem. In section 2, I suggest that these elements together with quidem itself are part of one single paradigm, the members of which mainly differ from each other with respect to their size (in a sense to be clarified below). This account gives us a better understanding of the placement of quidem (as opposed to equidem and -quidem), which in turn is a necessary condition for determining the syntactic scope of the particle. Nevertheless, apart from the discussion of the tripartite system (section 2.2) and some additional remarks at the end of the paper (section 7), most of this study only deals with quidem itself.

Second, my Latin examples are mainly drawn from prose texts from the classical to late classical era, say from Cicero to Apuleius. In addition, I occasionally use examples from Plautus and Terence. As a reviewer points out, there is a considerable time gap (of almost 400 years) between the earliest (Plautus) and the latest (Apuleius) author in this corpus, which furthermore contains texts of different genres and registers. As such, the empirical basis of my study can be considered a ‘heterogeneous corpus’ which ‘does not lend itself comfortably to [a] monolithic treatment’ (cf. Pulgram 1997: 411, on Kroon 1995). Still, such a ‘monolithic treatment’ is by and large what quidem will receive in this paper. The main reason why I feel that this can be defended is that I have no reason to assume that there is any important diachronic evolution in the entire period under investigation with respect to the two main claims made in this paper, namely (i) that quidem never emphasizes a single word or constituent, and (ii) that the basic semantic value of the particle is one of emphatic positive polarity. This is not to say that all properties of quidem remain constant throughout this long period. For instance, there is evidence that the possible positions that quidem can occupy inside its host clause are not the same in early Latin (Plautus and Terence) as in Classical Latin.9 Similarly, it is presumably the case that in certain genres, texts or periods, quidem is more frequently used than in others. However, I do not think that these factors fatally affect the validity of my conclusions.

2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

The first part of the discussion is organized as follows. In section 2, I discuss the morphosyntax of quidem and its kin, the adverb equidem and the clitic -quidem. Most attention is paid (i) to the different positions in which these three items can occur and (ii) to the nature of the elements that (can) occur to their left. I show that, in contrast to equidem, quidem always needs at least one word to its left, but, and this in contrast to clitic -quidem, does not impose any requirements on the categorial status of this word. Next, it is shown that a proper understanding of the placement of quidem is needed to understand its scopal behaviour (section 3).

I start from the observation that quidem seems to be part of a larger paradigm that also includes the clitic -quidem (15) and the expanded adverb equidem (16):10

(15)Quid ego audio? actum est, sĭquidem haec uera praedicat.
‘What do I hear? It's over, if indeed she's telling the truth.’ (= Ter. And. 465; iambic senarius)
(16)Vellem equidem uobis placere, Quirites.
‘It could be my wish to please you, Quirites.’ (= Liv. aUc 3.68.9)

In the following paragraphs, I propose that -quidem, quidem and equidem are related in a principled way, much as for instance the Ancient Greek 1sg object pronouns me (unstressed, clitic), emé (tonic) and emége (emphatic) are related to one another.11 I first introduce a formal framework that can capture such systematic relations between full and deficient categories. Next, I suggest that quidem can be considered a weak adverb, with -quidem as its clitic and equidem as its strong counterpart.

2.1. The typology of structural deficiency

Cardinaletti & Starke (1999) develop a cross-categorial typology of structural deficiency. Although these authors primarily focus on pronouns, they show that their analysis can be extended to adverbs. The basic idea is that some syntactic phrases are endowed with full functional structure, whereas other phrases are to some extent reduced. In Cardinaletti & Starke (1999), the former are called ‘strong’ and the latter are characterized as ‘deficient’. The class of deficient elements can further be divided into weak elements, which are syntactically phrases (or XPs) and clitics, which are syntactic heads (X°s) and can undergo syntactic incorporation. An (incomplete) overview of the properties of the three classes is given in Table 1. Importantly, it is possible for members of a triplet to be homophonous. In those cases, only the diagnostics in Table 1 allow us to tell different elements apart.

Table 1. Properties of strong, weak and clitic pronouns
1.Same distribution as full NPs? YesNoNo
2.Can be co-ordinated?YesNoNo
3.Syntactically independent?YesNoNo
4.Modification by a focus particle?YesNoNo
5.Can resume a dislocated phrase?NoNoYes
6.Morphologically heavy?Yes±No

Most of the complete triplets discussed in the literature consist of pronouns. A full case study is worked out in Cardinaletti (1991), who discusses the 3pl indirect object pronouns in Italian, viz. a loro (strong), loro (weak) and gli (clitic). For reasons of space, I will not offer a full-fledged illustration of how the system would work in the case of pronouns; I refer to Cardinaletti (1991) and Cardinaletti & Starke (1999) for in-depth discussion.

Interestingly, adverbs have also been claimed to come in strong, weak and clitic varieties (Cardinaletti & Starke 1999: 207–12; Cardinaletti 2011). For instance, despite their being homophonous, there are two French adverbs bien ‘well’, a strong and a weak one, each with different distributional and intonational properties (Cardinaletti & Starke 1999: 208). For instance, weak bien obligatory precedes a past participle (17a, b), whereas strong bien (identified as such by virtue of the fact that it is co-ordinated to another manner adverb) can appear to the right of the participle:12

(17)a.Il a bien essuyé la vaisselle.
‘He has dried the dishes well.’
b.*Il a essuyé la vaisselle bien. (with flat (neutral) intonation)
c.Il a essuyé la vaisselle bien et rapidement.
‘He has dried the dishes well and quickly.’

Clitic adverbs in turn have been claimed to exist in Romanian (see for instance Dobrovie-Sorin 1994). However, to the best of my knowledge no complete triplet consisting of a clitic, a weak and a strong adverb has been reported. In the next section, I propose that Latin quidem is part of such a complete triplet.

2.2. quidem as a weak adverb

As outlined above, the full paradigm to which quidem belongs consists of the strong element equidem, the weak adverb quidem and the clitic -quidem. Given the differences between adverbs and pronouns, not all of the diagnostics listed in Table 1 can be applied to these three elements. I therefore concentrate on the placement of the members of the quidem paradigm. The most important properties of the three elements are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2. properties of equidem, quidem and -quidem
Strong: equidem Weak: quidem Clitic: –quidem
Can occur in sentence-initial position (18)Barred from sentence-initial position, appears in the second position of a colon instead (at least in Classical Latin, cf. fn. 15)Enclisis to pronouns and conjunctions, with prosodic restructuring ((15), (21)–(23))
2.2.1Strong equidem

The most salient property of equidem is the fact that it can (but need not, cf. (16)) occur in sentence-initial position (as in (18)). This observation can be taken to mean that equidem does not need a syntactic or phonological host, which in turn suggests its syntactic and/or phonological independence.13

(18)Equidem nec quid taceam nec quatenus proloquar inuenio.
‘I don't know what I should keep quiet about or to what extent I should speak openly.’ (= Liv. aUc. 39.15.4)
2.2.2Weak quidem

The second member of the triplet is weak quidem. A very important property of this element is that, in contrast with equidem, it can never appear in the first position of a clause. In addition, in Classical Latin,14 quidem has a strong preference for occurring in second position, as in (19):

(19)Democritus quidem optumis uerbis causam explicat, cur ante lucem galli canant.
‘Democritus has a very convincing explanation of why cocks crow before daylight.’
(= Cic. Div. 2.57)

The exact rules governing the placement of weak quidem are quite intricate: they are spelt out in detail at the end of the paper (section 5.4). For now it will suffice to say that quidem typically occurs in the second position of an intonational phrase (say a ‘colon’) rather than in the second position of an entire clause. In any event, quidem is always followed by at least one word. This property will play an important role throughout much of the upcoming argumentation.

2.2.3Clitic quidem

Finally, there is metrical evidence that in some contexts quidem acts as a genuine clitic. This clitic behaviour can be diagnosed (i) in metrical texts (ii) when quidem is found to the right of a word whose final syllable is not an open syllable with a short vowel, and (iii) this final syllable is scanned as light. This is illustrated in (20), with the diacritics indicating syllable weight (not vowel length), and the orthographic convention of ‘univerbation’ indicating cliticization:

(20)a.quandō quĭdem[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]quandŏquĭdem
b.sī quĭdem[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]sĭquĭdem
c.tū quĭdem[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]tŭquĭdem
d.tē quĭdem[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]tĕquĭdem
e.hic15 quĭdem[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]hĭcquĭdem

This phenomenon is known as Kürzung durch Tonanschluß ‘shortening through enclisis’ (cf. Vollmer 1917). It only seems possible with a limited number of items serving as the host for the clitic adverb; in almost all cases, the host is either a conjunction (si or quando) or a pronoun (personal, demonstrative or relative).16 Detailed discussion can be found in Questa (2007: 154–61), who stresses that shortening through enclisis, is, though well attested, not perfectly well understood (Questa 2007: 153).17 A number of illustrations is given in (21)–(23) (see also (15) above):

(21)Liberem ego te? // uerum, quandŏquidem, ere, te seruaui.
‘I should set you free? // Yes, master, since I have saved you.’ (= Plaut. Men. 1024; trochaeic septenarius)
(22)Quanto nunc formosior uidere mi quam dudum // certe tŭquidem pol multo hilarior.
‘How much more beautiful do you look than you used to. // Well, you certainly look much more cheerful.’ (= Ter. Eun. 731; iambic octonarius)
(23)Enim uero, ere, facis delicias // de tĕquidem haec didici omnia.
‘Well, there you are, master, making jokes. // Yes, but I learnt all of that from you.’
(= Plaut. Poe. 280; trochaeic septenarius)

Importantly, only a limited number of elements could give rise to Kürzung durch Tonanschluß when following a conjunction or a pronoun. Of these, -quidem and indefinite -quis ‘someone’ are the clearest cases. This means that its phonological shape was not the decisive property that enabled -quidem to turn heavy syllables into light ones; in early Latin, there were many words which from a prosodic point of view had exactly the same shape but could not give rise to the same effect. Rather, I take the ability to trigger this Kürzung to be part of the lexical entry of a small group of clitic elements. Concomitantly, with Fortson (2008: 52) I assume that an account postulating two distinct lexical items quidem and (–)quidem is to be preferred over a theory that says that there was only one quidem, which optionally could trigger shortening. Postulating two different lexical items has the advantage that it allows us to dispense with the apparent optionality of Kürzung durch Tonanschluß. Instead, we can say that all instances of shortening of this particular type are triggered by clitic -quidem18 and never by weak quidem, thus maintaining a strict one-to-one relation between lexical items and lexically determined phonological phenomena.19

2.3. Interim conclusion

I would like to conclude that adopting the approach to structural deficiency proposed by Cardinaletti & Starke (1999) allows us to explain the formal resemblance between equidem, quidem and -quidem in a principled way. The most important aspect of this discussion is the placement of weak quidem. I have suggested that it is not related to or determined by any categorial or interpretive property of the element to its left; this point will be picked up again in the following section. In what follows, I mainly concentrate on weak quidem. At the end of the paper (section 7), I briefly consider whether my conclusions concerning the scope and interpretation of this element can be carried over to -quidem and equidem.

3. On the syntactic scope of quidem

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In this section, I offer a critical evaluation of the standard claim that quidem can function as a particle inducing constituent focus. In the literature, this claim can be found in different strengths. According to Hofmann & Szantyr (1965: 486), quidem always occurs to the right of the word whose meaning it highlights.20 Slightly weaker is the formulation in the Oxford Latin Dictionary (s.v. quidem), where we read that quidem is ‘normally placed directly after the word it emphasizes’, but that it can also ‘emphasiz[e] a whole sentence’. More recently, Spevak (2010: 20) also suggests that quidem can have both clausal and constituent scope.21 To the best of my knowledge, nobody has thus far proposed that quidem never takes scope over a single constituent.

The main question that I address is whether there are any convincing cases (i) in which quidem does not have propositional scope and (ii) in which the element to the left of quidem can be shown to be focal solely by virtue of the presence of quidem. In order to answer this question, I look at the pragmatic status of the word or constituent to the left of quidem. First, I investigate cases where quidem follows an element that can be interpreted as focal (section 3.1). Contrary to the communis opinio, I suggest that these elements are inherently emphatic, and that they do not receive their focal flavour by virtue of the fact that they are followed by quidem. The examples discussed in this section are very important: in my opinion, their existence constitutes the main reason why the view that quidem can have narrow scope over the element to its left is so widespread. Second, I discuss a range of examples where it can be shown that what occurs to the left of quidem is not a focus but either a topic or a discourse-neutral element (section 3.2). Moreover, I suggest that whenever quidem appears to the right of an impossible or unlikely focus, assuming wide (sentential) scope for quidem does give rise to a sensible interpretation. The overall conclusion is that there is no convincing evidence that quidem ever acts as a marker of constituent focus.

Before starting the discussion, I would like to point out that it is important to keep in mind that the different authors who wrote about the interpretation of quidem do not all adopt the same terminology. In order to be able to properly evaluate the merits of earlier proposals, terminological confusion is of course to be avoided. Therefore, some clarificatory remarks are in order. In older philological works (descriptive grammars as well as specialized monographs), one typically makes a distinction between clauses with ‘neutral’ and ‘marked’ word-order patterns. Constituents that are found in the latter are then qualified as ‘marked’, ‘emphatic’, ‘expressive’, but most often no more precise characterization is offered. In more recent work on Latin syntax, which is usually influenced by modern linguistic theory, the distinction between discourse-neutral elements and constituents with a special interpretation tends to be made as well, but it is common practice to subdivide the category of ‘non-neutral’ constituents into two categories, namely topics and foci (which themselves can have a number of subclasses). I adopt these two broad categories, and I assume that when older authors characterize the element modified by quidem as ‘emphatic’ and later ones as ‘focalized’, they essentially mean the same thing. In other words, I assume that the contemporary notion of topic, which is typically associated with meaning connotations like ‘aboutness’, ‘givenness’ or ‘old information’ is not what older philologists had in mind when characterizing quidem.22 Furthermore, I will assume that the type of focalization which is relevant in the present discussion is of the non-corrective, non-contrastive kind. The two relevant types of focalization are exemplified in (24) (non-contrastive) and (25) (contrastive):

(24)a.A: What did you buy for John?Non-contrastive focus
B: I bought him [a BOOK]. 
b.A: What did John do? 
B: He [kissed MARY]. 
(25)a.A: Mary bought a bunch of flowers for John.Contrastive focus
B: No, it was [a BOOK] that she bought for him. 
b.A: I believe that John won the match. 
B: No, BILL won. 

Non-contrastive foci like the noun phrase ‘a book’ and the verb phrase ‘kissed Mary’ in B's replies in (24) can informally be defined as that constituent of the clause that constitutes the most salient update of the discursive common ground. In terms of the distinction proposed in É. Kiss (1998a), the element modified by quidem would then be a ‘(new) information focus’ rather than an ‘(exhaustive) identificational focus’.

With this under our belt, we can start the discussion of the pragmatic status of elements that are followed by quidem.

3.1Inherently focal elements to the left of quidem: the case of pronouns

As has often been noted (see e.g. Grossmann 1880: 23–36; Solodow 1978: 36–42), quidem is often preceded by a pronoun, be it a personal (26), a possessive (27) or a demonstrative (28) one:

(26)Ego quidem paene proieci partem meam.
‘I personally had almost thrown away my portion.’ (= Petr. Sat. 33.7)
(27)Tua quidem pietas, imperator sanctissime, optauerat, ut quam tardissime succederes patri.
‘It was indeed your piety, august emperor, that made you wish to succeed your father as late as possible.’ (= Pli. Epi. 10.1)
(28)Atque ob has quidem causas, si permittit locorum conditio, uel paucos utique oportet educare.
‘And for these reasons it is indeed appropriate, if the conditions of the place permit it, to rear a small number <of geese>.’ (= Col. Agr. 8.13.3)

On the basis of these and similar examples, many people have concluded that quidem emphasizes the word (or constituent) to its immediate left. In this section, I argue against this view: I suggest that it is an artefact of two independent factors, which jointly create the impression that quidem can act as a particle inducing constituent focus. The first factor is that quidem is indeed a focus particle (see section 5.1 for a defence of this idea). However, as is argued for extensively in this paper, quidem invariably takes scope over an entire proposition rather than over a single word or constituent. Second, recall that quidem cannot occur in clause-initial position. From this restriction, it (trivially) follows that at least one word appears to its left. In a subset of these cases, the word to the left of quidem is probably best interpreted as bearing some kind of emphasis. However, there is no evidence that this emphasis is caused by quidem.

Consider for instance (26), in which the first-person pronoun ego surfaces to the left of quidem. This pronoun can plausibly be interpreted as a focus. However, Latin being a null-subject language, this focal reading is the result of the fact that the pronominal subject is overtly expressed: ego does not need quidem to be focal, it is inherently emphatic.23 The same holds for the possessive pronoun tua in (27), which can also be said to be inherently focal, by virtue of the fact that it is overtly realized (possessor-possessum relations are not systematically overtly encoded in Latin), and because it appears in a prenominal rather than in a postnominal position.24 The example in (28) lends even stronger support to the hypothesis that in the sequence ‘(preposition -) adnominal pronoun - quidem - noun’, quidem is not responsible for focalizing the pronominal. In Latin, other particles do this job, like for instance maxime ‘precisely’ in (29):

(29)Contra Alexander in hunc maxime modum rescripsit.
‘Alexander responded in precisely this manner.’ (= Q. Curt. Hist. 4.1.10)

In cases where maxime and quidem co-occur (as in (29)), it is maxime that emphasizes the demonstrative pronoun. quidem on the other hand, being barred from the clause-initial position, attaches to the first independent phonological unit25 (in this case the sequence per hos ‘through them’, assuming that et ‘and’ is an extra-clausal connective) but retains its sentential scope (as suggested in my translation, with ‘indeed’ for quidem):

(30)Et per hos quidem maxime uiros salutaris ista nobis professio increuit.
‘And it is indeed precisely through those men that our salutary profession grew up.’
(= Cels. Med. Pro. 11)

Moreover, if we assume that overt pronouns are inherently emphatic, we predict that personal pronouns like ego and demonstratives like hic can also follow rather than precede a clausemate quidem. This prediction is indeed borne out. A number of relevant examples are given below:

(31)Paucae ciuitates, ut quidem ego audio, […] in ius dicionemque uenerunt.
‘As far as I've heard, only a few cities came to acknowledge our authority.’
(= Liv. aUc 40.35.13)
(32)Quae quidem tu, si recte istic erit, maiora et grauiora cognosces.
‘Once your affairs are in order, you will understand that they (viz. my efforts in your favour LD) are even greater and more influential.’ (= Cic. Fam. 10.20.3)
(33)Nimis quidem hic truculentust.
‘That one really is too hot-tempered.’ (= Plaut. Truc. 265)

A quick search on the Brepolis database (period Antiquitas, all texts) teaches us that the combination ego quidem is attested 58 times (eleven instances of ne ego quidem not taken into account). In the same corpus, the string quidem ego is found 82 times (one instance where quidem was part of the complex ne … quidem omitted).26 Assuming that in at least a subset of those 82 cases, the first-person pronoun is focal, we can conclude that when both quidem and a (personal or demonstrative) pronoun are present in one and the same clause, quidem seems to affect neither the interpretation nor the linear position of the pronoun.

Finally, left-peripheral topics and foci being very common in Latin (cf. Spevak 2010), it often is the case that the first word of a clause bears some kind of emphasis anyway, irrespective of the presence or absence of quidem. For this reason as well, the high frequency of emphatic constituents followed by quidem need not surprise us (see Marouzeau 1949: 129 for a similar line of reasoning, albeit in a different context). I would therefore like to conclude that in cases like (26)–(28) above, quidem does not focalize the constituent or word it follows. Rather, if a given word or constituent to the left of quidem happens to be emphatic, this emphasis is either (i) brought about through the fact that an overt pronoun has been preferred over a null pronoun, or (ii) it is grammatically encoded through word order.

3.2Non-foci to the left of quidem

Having shown that some elements that occur to the left of quidem are inherently focal, I now turn to elements that are not focal at all, despite the fact that they are left adjacent to quidem. The elements that I discuss include function words, topics and discourse-neutral noun phrases. In many of the cases to be discussed, I suggest that whereas it is unlikely to interpret quidem as a marker of constituent focus, a reading in which it emphasizes an entire proposition does yield a plausible interpretation.

3.2.1Function words followed by quidem

The first set of examples that I discuss consists of instances of quidem preceded by what one could call ‘function words’, i.e. lexical items with little descriptive content, like co-ordinating or subordinating conjunctions, and certain adverbs. Consider for instance the example in (34), in which quidem appears inside the second of two co-ordinated clauses, to the immediate right of the conjunction et ‘and’, without there being any kind of ellipsis in the second of the two conjoined propositions:27

(34)Sic faciam igitur, inquit: unam rem explicabo, eamque maximam, de physicis alias, et quidem tibi et declinationem istam atomorum et magnitudinem solis probabo et Democriti errata ab Epicuro reprehensa et correcta permulta.
‘So this is what I will do. I will discuss one topic, namely the most important one. Natural science is for later: I will prove to you that your views about the swerve of atoms and the size of the sun are correct, and that many of Democritus’ mistakes have been criticized and corrected by Epicurus.’ (= Cic. Fin. 1.28)

In this example, the speaker (Torquatus) summarizes what he is about to say. He first delimits his subject matter by stating that he will only touch upon the topic of ethics, not physics. He goes on to add that he will revisit physics, and he specifies what he has to say on that particular matter. quidem appears right after the assertion that physics is not today's topic, and it is only preceded by et. A reading in which quidem emphasizes et does not seem to be available: the co-ordinator only serves as a neutral sentence connector to introduce a proposition that gives further information about what was said earlier (in this case, the fact that the subject of physics will be discussed another time). Emphasizing a co-ordinating conjunction is typically only felicitous in cases where the second conjunct does more than merely explain in more detail what was said in the first conjunct. This is illustrated by the following contrast in English, where caps indicate prosodic prominence and the # mark pragmatic infelicitousness:

(35)a.Kim Clijsters is a good tennis player AND she is a nice person.
b.#I'll talk to you later AND I'll explain what happened to the aardvark.

In (35a), two pieces of information are given which are quite distinct. In this case, stressing the conjunction is acceptable. On the other hand, it is odd at best in (35b), at least under the reading where the second clause specifies what is said in the first.28 As our Latin example is more like (35b) than like (35a), it seems quite unlikely that quidem emphasizes the co-ordinator.

But if quidem in (34) does not modify et, what does it modify? I would like to submit that a contextually very plausible reading arises if we assume that quidem emphasizes the entire clause introduced by et. Having said that physics is not on his agenda, the speaker hastens to clarify that he really does have the intention to revisit the subject (‘I'm just postponing, I do intend to come back to the subject, and on that occasion I will prove that… ’).

Similar examples from Latin include (36) and (37). In the first of these, the second clause specifies the circumstances under which Scaptius’ prefecture took place. In this example, et is a neutral connective that simply takes the narrative one step further:

(36)Fuerat enim praefectus Appio, et quidem habuerat turmas equitum, […].
‘He had been prefect under Appius, and indeed he had some squadrons of horsemen under his command.’ (= Cic. Att. 6.1.6)

In (37), the bond between the two units conjoined by et is perhaps slightly weaker than in the two previous examples, but again, interpreting the conjunction as being emphatic does not yield a coherent reading. Assuming that quidem has wide scope seems the only available option.

(37)Quid est quod non possit isto modo ex conexo transferri ad coniunctionum negationem? Et quidem aliis modis easdem res efferre possumus.
‘Which single positive proposition could not in this way be transformed into a negation of two conjuncts? Yes indeed, it is possible to express the same ideas in different ways’. (= Cic. de Fato 16)

A final example with a co-ordinator contains the disjunctive conjunction aut ‘or’. Interestingly, this passage is also mentioned in the quidem entry in the Oxford Latin Dictionary, where it is presented as an example of quidem emphasizing a whole sentence. I take it that this interpretation is correct.

(38)Omnia haec illum putato, quae ego nunc dico, dicere; aut quidem cum uxore hac ipsum prohibebo domo.
‘Take it for granted that he says the same as I say now. Or else, I will surely prevent him and his wife from entering this house.’ (= Ter. Phor. 423B-425)

The same type of reasoning can be applied to subordinated clauses. In (39), quidem is found to the right of si ‘if’, the conditional conjunction which here introduces what one could call an epistemic adverbial clause:29

(39)Sequitur igitur, ut etiam uitia sint paria, si quidem prauitates animi recte uitia dicuntur.
‘It follows then that all vices are equal, if indeed it is correct to qualify the depravities of the mind as vices.’ (= Cic. Par. 3.22)

A very similar example with a causal connective is given in (40). In both examples, interpreting the conjunction as being narrowly focalized would be quite unnatural: this would yield a reading in which special emphasis is laid on the nature of the semantic relation that holds between the subordinated and the main proposition (conditional in (39), causal in (40)).

(40)Hae tot partes eius fertiles rerum habent quiddam teporis, quoniam quidem sterile frigus est, calor gignit.
‘Many a part of this which can bear fruit is endowed with some warmth, given that cold is of course sterile and that warmth gives life.’ (= Sen. N.Q. 2.10.4)

Instead, a reading in which quidem has clausal scope seems appropriate (cf. the translations ‘indeed’ and ‘of course’). Postponing a more precise characterization of the semantics of quidem as a propositional operator until sections 4 and 5, I now conclude that subordinating conjunctions constitute a class of lexical items that can occur to the left of quidem (and as it happens, frequently do so) without being focalized by it.

Next, one occasionally finds quidem preceded by fairly neutral discourse connectives like praeterea ‘moreover’ (41), interea ‘in the mean while’ (42) and ceterum ‘furthermore’ (43). Under the most natural interpretation of these examples, quidem scopes over the entire proposition rather than over the sentence-initial adverb only, in line with the analysis defended in the present paper.

(41)Praeterea quidem de consularibus nemini possum aut studi erga te aut offici aut amici animi esse testis.
‘Furthermore, for none of the Consulars can I testify anything about good will, service or sympathy towards you.’ (= Cic. Fam. 1.7.3)
(42)Interea quidem cum Musis nos delectabimus […].
‘In the mean while, I will amuse myself with the muses.’ (= Cic. Att. 2.4.2)
(43)Ceterum quidem in Idus Augustas tibi expectandum est, ut quiduis, qualeuis audias.
‘But you must certainly be eagerly awaiting August 13, so that you may hear what you want to hear and how you want to hear it.’ (= Fro. Ep. Haines I.108.2)

While I take the adverbs in (41), (42) and (43) to be just unlikely foci, there is a class of adverb that is well known to resist focalization altogether, namely modal adverbs expressing a high degree of certainty, like certe ‘certainly’ and sane ‘of course’ (to which I return in section 4.1). These too can be found to the immediate left of quidem:

(44)Sed alias, ubi sit animus; certe quidem in te est.
‘Another time I will talk about the place of the soul. Certainly it is in you.’
(= Cic. Tusc. 1.70)
(45)Sane quidem hercle, et est ista recta docendi uia.
‘For sure this is true: this is the right way of explaining it.’ (= Cic. Leg. 2.8)

In these cases it is unlikely that quidem narrowly focalizes the modal adverb, since we know that for instance English epistemic adverbs like certainly and probably cannot felicitously be clefted (46) or modified by a focus particle like even (47):30

(46)a.*It is certainly that John will eat the mango (cf. John certainly will eat the mango).
b.*It is probably that Mary will kiss the hippo (cf. Mary probably will kiss the hippo).
(47)a.?*Anne even CERTAINLY liked the smallest crocodile (cf. Anne certainly liked the smallest crocodile).
b.*Bill even PROBABLY finished the onion soup (cf. Bill probably finished the onion soup).

To sum up, on the basis of the data discussed in this section we can conclude that quidem does not automatically put emphasis on the element to its left. I now turn to cases where a constituent denoting a discourse participant is followed by quidem. I will suggest that in those cases as well, there is evidence that quidem does not serve as a focus particle inducing constituent focus.

3.2.2. Connecting relatives

Another element that cannot plausibly be considered a focus is the so-called ‘connecting relative’ (Fr. relatif de liaison, Ger. relativischer Anschluß). This particular type of relative pronoun is standardly considered to be a pragmatic topic (Bolkestein 1996; Spevak 2010: 15, 59; Danckaert 2012: ch. 4). It is frequently followed by quidem (cf. Grossmann 1880: 33–6; Ludewig 1891: 22 (on Pliny the Elder), 27 (on Seneca) for a list of examples). Two examples from Cicero are given below:

(48)Quod idem Scipioni uidebatur, qui quidem, quasi praesagiret, perpaucis ante mortem diebus […] triduum disseruit de re publica.
‘Such was also the opinion of Scipio: only a couple of days before his death, as if he foresaw his fate, he lectured for three days about the state.’ (= Cic. Amic. 14)
(49)Ac uellem ut meus gener, sodalis tuus, Hortensius adfuisset; quem quidem ego confido omnibus istis laudibus, quas tu oratione complexus es, excellentem fore.
‘And I would like that my son-in-law, your friend Hortensius had been present. I am indeed confident that he will excell in all the virtues that you have considered necessary in oratory.’ (= Cic. de Or. 3.228)

I see no reason to reject the communis opinio that these connecting relatives are used as anaphoric pronouns referring to a familiar discourse referent: they act as pragmatic topics, whether or not they are followed by quidem. There is even evidence that the connecting relative can be considered an anti-focus: for instance, we never find instances of a relatif de liaison (or any other relative pronoun, for that matter) modified by a genuine focalizing element like ne … quidem or etiam.

3.2.3Co-occurrence with focal etiam (‘even’)

In this section, I look at cases in which a genuine focus particle (in the sense of König 1991) and its associate (the constituent it emphasizes) co-occur with quidem (and by this token also with the word or constituent to the immediate left of quidem). If etiam has a scalar reading (i.e. when it can be rendered in English as ‘even’) rather than a purely additive one (cf. English ‘also’, ‘in addition’), it is standardly (and in my view correctly) considered to induce focus on a single constituent (see, among many others, Devine & Stephens 2006: 225–35; Rosén 2009: 323; Spevak 2010: 51), most often the one to its right. Consider for instance the following example from Cicero (with square brackets indicating the constituent focalized by etiam, itself underscored):

(50)[Context: After reviewing the opinions of philosophers about the question of whethergods are endowed with limbs and other body parts, Cotta points out that people who disagree with him tend to do this with full conviction.]
Et soletis queri; Zeno quidem etiam [litigabat]. quid dicam Albucium?
‘You are prone to complain, but Zeno would actually even sue. Not to mention Albucius!’ (= Cic. Nat. D. 1.93)

Proponents of the view that quidem is a marker of constituent focus presumably would say that ‘Zeno’ in (50) is a pragmatic focus. However, the presence of etiam and its focalized associate litigabat (presumably an entire VP that only contains the intransitive tensed verb) makes this hypothesis difficult to defend. Why is this so? In the literature, it is often claimed that there can only be one focal constituent per clause (see for instance Dik 1997; Rizzi 1997; Erteschik-Shir 2007: 38; and specifically on Latin Spevak 2010: 39). I hasten to say that the ban on multiple foci is not absolute (cf. Krifka 1992; É. Kiss 1998b; Benincà & Poletto 2004). However, as pointed out in Hengeveld & Mackenzie (2008: 28), clauses containing more than one focus are rare and pragmatically marked:

There is a strong tendency for the principal units of verbal interaction (Discourse Acts) to contain one element with the pragmatic function Focus […]. Only under rather special circumstances will it contain more than one Focus (as in such multiple wh-questions as Who gave what to whom?).31

These considerations make it a priori unlikely that in a case like (50) we are dealing with two focus particles each associated with a focalized constituent (viz. the subject Zeno with quidem and the verb phrase litigabat with etiam). But what about the interpretation of this sentence? I take it to be uncontroversial that the verb phrase modified by etiam is indeed a focus. As to the pragmatic function of Zeno, there seem to be two possibilities: either this constituent is a discourse-neutral subject, or it is a topic.32 The latter option seems promising, especially if we take it to be a so-called ‘contrastive topic’ (cf. Büring 2003). This seems appropriate for (50): of all the members of the set of philosophers that ever reacted to Cotta (i.e. the set of contrastive topics), each time another focus is predicated (the way in which each philosopher reacted). In any event, we can safely conclude that in (50), the constituent to the left of quidem is not a focus. Moreover, if we adopt the assumptions that (i) Zeno in (50) is a topic and (ii) that quidem is not a topic marker, we have yet another indication that quidem does not have any effect on the pragmatic interpretation of the element it follows.

Examples very similar to (50), from different authors and periods, can easily be found. Consider for instance (51):

(51)[Context: Phaeneas just interrupted Philippus, when the latter was addressing his troops. Phaeneas reminds Philippus that wars are won by fighting, not by talking.]
‘Apparet id quidem’ inquit Philippus ‘etiam caeco’, iocatus in ualetudinem oculorum Phaeneae.
‘That much is clear even to a blind man, Philippus said, jokingly referring to Phaeneas’ bad eyesight.’ (= Liv. aUc 32.34.3)

The standard account would be that quidem in this case emphasizes id. However, this hypothesis seems to be falsified by the presence of the phrase etiam caeco ‘even to a blind man’, arguably the main focus of this clause. Instead, it is probably correct to interpret id either as a (weak) topic, or even just as a fairly neutral anaphor (despite the fact that an overt pronoun has been preferred over a zero pronoun, cf. section 3.1, fn. 23).

A final example is (52), which is taken from Quintilian's discussion of the phenomenon of hyperbaton in Latin. The author notes that not all literary genres are similar in this respect. Having talked about hyperbaton in oratory and historiography, he now comments upon a special license only permitted in poetry:

(52)Poetae quidem etiam [uerborum diuisione] faciunt transgressionem:
Hyperboreo septem subiecta trioni,
quod oratio nequaquam recipiet.
‘Poets create hyperbaton even by splitting up words, as in Hyperboreo septem subiecta trioni, something which in prose would never be allowed.’ (= Quint. I.O. 8.6.66)

We can conclude that at least in some cases, a full noun phrase or a pronoun to the left of quidem is not to be interpreted as a focus. However, in section 3.1 (cf. also section 5.1) I adopted the idea that quidem is a focal expression after all (just not one that induces constituent focus). So what about collocations of focus particles like even with focus markers that have propositional scope? Interestingly, the ban on multiple foci only seems to apply to combinations of constituents, not to the combination of a focal constituent and a focus marker that scopes over an entire clause. For instance, examples of English emphatic do co-occurring with a focal constituent modified by even are accepted as grammatical by native speakers (53) and can be found in corpora (54):33

(53)a.(No, that's not true/Yes indeed), Anne does like even [small aardvarks].
b.(No, that's not true/Yes indeed), Bill did finish even [the onion soup].
(54)a.Yes, he does love even [the speeders]! (
b.A birthday, Christmas, and their anniversaries. He did remember even [the monthly ones]. (
c.I for one do like even [the biters], though. I find all animals, and especially insects, just plain cool and fascinating. (

Therefore, we can be confident that the data discussed in this section are not problematic for the claim that quidem is a focus particle with sentential scope.

3.2.4. Noun phrases

The point of departure in this last subsection is the observation that when co-occurring with an element that can unambiguously be identified as a focus-sensitive particle (like etiam), quidem can appear to the left of a noun phrase without putting any emphasis on it. The question now arises as to whether quidem is ever capable of doing this. Note that if we were to assume that it could, it is not entirely clear why it would lose its ability to do so whenever some other focus particle were present. For why would it in those cases always have to be quidem that ceases to induce constituent focus, and never for instance etiam?

So let us first have a closer look at a number of examples where quidem is preceded by a noun phrase without there being any focus particle like etiam. My first set of examples all involve cases in which quidem intervenes between two elements of one single complex noun phrase. In (55), this noun phrase is a proper name:

(55)[Context: while discussing which properties a good piece of farm land should have, the author now mentions what Cato had to say about the matter.]
Porcius quidem Cato censebat inspiciendo agro praecipue duo esse consideranda, salubritatem caeli et ubertatem loci.
‘Porcius Cato thought that upon inspecting a field two elements were to receive special attention, namely whether the climate provides wholesome conditions and whether the place itself is fruitful.’ (= Col. Agr. 1.3.1)

In this example, the nomen gentilicium ‘Porcius’ is not to be understood as being emphasized in any sense, as if the author wanted to distinguish Porcius Cato from other Catones. But can the view that quidem in a case like (55) focalizes a single constituent be saved by assuming that quidem actually scopes over the entire nominal constituent (e.g. Porcius Cato in (55)), and that the mismatch between the surface position of the particle and its logical scope is for phonological reasons (with quidem being attached to the first possible host, in this case the first part of a name)? It seems to me that this is equally unlikely: upon closer inspection, neither a part of the name nor the entire name seem likely foci. Consider for instance (56), which is very similar to (55) in that quidem also appears in between two parts of a proper name:

(56)Nam Papirius quidem Masso, cum bene gesta re publica triumphum a senatu non inpetrauisset, in Albano monte triumphandi et ipse initium fecit […].
‘For when Papirius Masso did not obtain a triumph from the senate despite having completed a successful campaign, he set out to have a triumph of his own on Mount Alba.’ (= Val. Max. Mir. 3.6.5)

This example is taken from a passage in which Valerius Maximus discusses Roman military leaders who were not afraid to show off luxury or to think highly of themselves. After talking about Sulla, Gaius Duilius and two members of the Scipio family, he now talks about a fifth general, namely Papirius Masso. The pattern is always the same: the author first introduces the name of the person whose behaviour he wants to discuss, and then he says what exactly this person did: a classical topic-comment pattern. In other words, neither the nomen gentilicium Papirius nor the complete name including the cognomen Masso qualifies as a plausible focus. Instead, the full name Papirius Masso is in all likelihood best interpreted as a topic, as is the proper name in (55). The presence of quidem is in my view completely unrelated to this state of affairs.

Finally, let us now look at cases in which an entire noun phrase precedes quidem: together with sequences of the type ‘pronoun + quidem’ (cf. infra), these are the prototypical cases for which people have claimed that quidem focalizes only the element to its left. A first example, which was also mentioned in section 2.2.2, comes from Cicero:

(57)[Context: In a discussion of whether it is plausible that cock crowing can ever be considered a portent signalling an upcoming military success, the question arises as to why cocks crow at all.]
Democritus quidem optumis uerbis causam explicat, cur ante lucem galli canant.
‘Democritus has a very convincing explanation of why cocks crow before daylight.’
(= Cic. Div. 2.57) (= (19))

In this example, the carry-home message is not that it was Democritus, of all people, who had something to say that is relevant at this particular point of the conversation. Rather, this sentence is in my view best analysed as an ‘all focus’ utterance, consisting entirely of new information:34 both what was said and by whom it was said are of interest. In other words, I assume that the entire utterance in (57) constitutes an update of the conversational common ground. The subject Democritus is then a run-of-the-mill neutral subject, that only happens to precede quidem due to the fact that the latter cannot occur in clause-initial position.

My final example in this section comes from Quintilian:35

(58)Elegia quoque Graecos prouocamus, cuius mihi tersus atque elegans maxime uidetur auctor Tibullus. Sunt qui Propertium malint. Ouidius utroque lasciuior, sicut durior Gallus. Satura quidem tota nostra est […].
‘In elegy as well we challenge the Greeks. In this genre, Tibullus seems to me to be the purest and the most elegant author. Some prefer Propertius. Ovid is more playful than both of them, and Gallus is more robust. As to the satire, that truly is a genre that is entirely ours.’ (= Quint. I.O. 10.1.93)

In the Oxford Latin Dictionary, the last clause is given as an example of a case where quidem emphasizes the word to its left, here the subject satura. However, this element is presumably not a focus either. Instead, a topic interpretation seems much more appropriate: the author literally changes the topic. After the discussion of elegy, he first announces that he will talk about the genre of satire, and he goes on to discuss it in the next lines. Importantly, however, if satura in (58) is indeed to be interpreted as a topic, this is not marked by quidem (nor by any other morphosyntactic means).

3.3Summary: quidem never gives rise to constituent focus

Thus far, we have discussed cases in which the element to the left of quidem is a function word (like an adverb, a connective or a subordinating conjunction), a pronoun or a (full) noun phrase. The latter two categories can fulfil the pragmatic function of topic or focus. In addition, we also saw that discourse-neutral constituents can be followed by quidem. Finally, on multiple occasions it was proposed that a wide-scope reading for quidem does give rise to a felicitous interpretation.

Importantly, I could find no cases, neither in the existing literature nor in my own readings, where one can be fully confident that a given element is a pragmatic focus only by virtue of the fact that it is followed by quidem. For this reason (and taking into account that the claim that quidem can induce constituent focus has – to the best of my knowledge – only been asserted, never argued for), I would like to conclude that quidem always has clausal scope, and that the impression that quidem can in some cases induce constituent focus is an artefact of (i) the weak adverb status of quidem (and the concomitant distributional constraints governing its placement in the clause) and (ii) the fact that in many cases, emphatic elements (esp. focal pronouns and (contrastive) topics, which tend to be mistaken for foci) often occur in clause-initial position, independently of quidem. This proposal is in line with much recent work on Latin word order, where it is assumed that in Latin, discourse-related notions like ‘topic’ and ‘focus’ (or the primitives into which they are to be decomposed) are encoded (i) through word order (see for instance Pinkster 1990; Devine & Stephens 2006; Spevak 2010 and Danckaert 2012), (ii) by means of genuine focus particles like etiam ‘even’, and (iii) presumably also by prosody (although it is of course not possible to assess the exact role of this last factor).

3.4A possible complication: quidem in noun phrases

Before starting the discussion of the semantic value of quidem, I first briefly point out that there are potential counterexamples to the claim that quidem always has clausal scope. Consider for instance (59):

(59)Is enim [ulterioribus quidem diebus] cubantis etiam luxuriae subscripsit, primis uero tortoris uicem exhibuit.
‘For in the last days of the illness he allowed the patient some luxuries, but in the first days he played the part of the torturer.’ (= Cels. Med. 3.4.3)

As indicated by the bracketing, I assume that quidem in (59) is syntactically embedded inside the noun phrase ulterioribus diebus. In comparable cases, the noun phrase in which quidem occurs is itself the complement of a preposition, as in (60):

(60)Quibus praeter ista quae dixi etiam illa ratiocinatio necessaria est, cur [in planis quidem speculis] ferme pares optutus et imagines uideantur, <in> tumidis uero et globosis omnia defectiora, at contra in cauis auctiora.
‘But apart from what I mentioned earlier, it is also necessary for them (viz. philosophers LD) to consider the question as to why in flat mirrors reflections and images usually appear to be similar [to reality], but in convex mirrors everything seems smaller, and in concave ones bigger.’ (= Apu. Mag. 16.2)

Under standard syntactic assumptions, the scope of quidem in (59) is restricted to the noun phrase ulterioribus diebus, and in (60) it only scopes over the prepositional phrase in planis speculis. I return to this type of structure in section 6, where I suggest that the scopal behaviour of those instances of quidem that are syntactically embedded inside a noun phrase is not any different from the cases in which quidem is not part of a phrasal constituent. In other words, there are reasons to believe that despite being ‘trapped’ inside a smaller constituent, quidem is still able to take clausal scope. Before addressing this issue, I first turn to the semantics and pragmatics of quidem.

4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

As already hinted at in the introduction, the main claim of the second half of the paper is that the lexical entry of quidem consists of (i) a semantic meaning component of affirmative polarity and (ii) a pragmatic component which is one of focality. The second part of this claim is (implicitly or explicitly) acknowledged in most studies on quidem, but the first is entirely new. I will go on to propose that together these two elements compositionally yield a reading of emphatic affirmation or ‘verum focus’, in the sense of Höhle (1992).

4.1. quidem is not a modal adverb

In the previous section, I concluded that quidem is not a focus particle that emphasizes a single element, but that it modifies an entire proposition. By this token, quidem can be considered a ‘propositional (or sentential) operator’. The class of propositional operators includes sentential negation, interrogatives, modals and various types of focal operator (see for instance Agouraki 1999). On the basis of the translations usually proposed for quidem (cf. section 1.1: ‘certainly’, ‘indeed’, ‘in any case’ etc.), one might be inclined to think that quidem is a modal adverb, more specifically one conveying epistemic or evidential modality. In what follows, I argue that this is not correct. The main argument in favour of the claim that quidem is not a modal particle is based on the observation that it frequently co-occurs with adverbs that indubitably qualify as modal, as well as with discourse particles that have been claimed to be essentially modal in nature.36 Assuming that a given type of modality can only be expressed once per clause (cf. Cinque 1999), I will conclude that quidem is not a modal particle. In the examples below, the underscored adverbs can all be considered to convey epistemic modality, i.e. the kind of modality that encodes to what extent the speaker is confident about the truth of a given proposition. A clear case is the epistemic adverb certe, which is derived from the adverb certus ‘certain’.37 In (61)–(63), certe appears alongside quidem:

(61)Sed alias, ubi sit animus; certe quidem in te est.
‘Another time I will talk about the place of the soul. Certainly it is in you.’
(= Cic. Tusc. 1.70)
(62)Certe quidem eiusdem <haec> dicta cuius illa facta.
‘Certainly these words had the same author as those deeds.’ (= Fro. Epi. Haines I.240)
(63)Certe quidem iacenti homini ac prope deposito fatum attulit.
‘Certainly it was destiny that brought him to this man, who was lying there, one foot in the grave.’ (= Apu. Flor. 19.3)

Other expressions of epistemic modality that can be found in collocation with quidem include sane ‘surely’ (64), necessario ‘necessarily’ (65), haud dubie ‘without any doubt’ (66) and (67), and profecto ‘certainly’ (68) and (69):

(64)Nam quid ego de Consolatione dicam? quae mihi quidem ipsi sane aliquantum medetur, ceteris item multum illam profuturam puto.
‘So what should I say about my ‘On Consolation’? This work certainly is of some use for myself, and I believe it will help other people as well.’ (= Cic. Div. 2.3)
(65)Tunc igitur a rosis - et quidem necessario - temperaui et casum praesentem tolerans in asini faciem faena rodebam.
‘So then I abstained from eating of the roses (I had to!), and enduring my present condition, I did as asses do: I ate hay.’ (= Apu. Met. 3.29)
(66)Campanos quidem haud dubie magis nimio luxu fluentibus rebus mollitiaque sua quam ui hostium uictos esse.
‘The Campanians certainly had been defeated by the careless situation caused by their excessive hunger for luxury and by their own effeminacy rather than by the strength of their enemies.’ (= Liv. aUc 7.32.7)
(67)Absente eo cum proelium commissum esset, superior quidem haud dubie Romanus erat.
‘After the battle had begun, in his absence, the Romans were beyond any doubt superior.’ (= Liv. aUc 24.17.5)
(68)Nunc quidem profecto Romae es.
‘Now you must certainly be in Rome.’ (= Cic. Att. 6.5.1)
(69)Hoc melius, et huius rei plura exempla, senectuti quidem nostrae profecto aptius.
‘This is better: there are more examples of this, and it certainly is better suited to my age.’ (= Cic. Att. 6.6.4)

Moreover, quidem is also attested next to clausemate modal particles like nimirum (70), scilicet (71) and quippe (72). On the modal character of these elements, see Schrickx (2011).

(70)Nunc quidem iam quocumque feremur danda nimirum uela sunt.
‘Now we must certainly spread our sails to the wind, wherever it may bring us.’
(= Cic. Or. 75)
(71)Scilicet nimis hic quidem est progressus, sed ex eo ipso est coniectura facilis, quantum sibi illi oratores de praeclarissimis artibus adpetierint, qui ne sordidiores quidem repudiarint.
‘No doubt he (viz. Hippias LD) did indeed go too far, but from this we can easily guess to what extent the orators of old were keen on the highest accomplishments, for they did not even spurn the lower ones.’ (= Cic. De or. 3.128)
(72)Quippe discretis quidem bonis omnium sua cuiusque ad singulos mala, […].
‘For if common goods are divided, each person is responsible for his own misfortunes.’ (= Pli. Pan. 32.3)

To be completely sure that the above data lead us to the conclusion that quidem is not a(n epistemic) modal adverb, we have to rule out the possibility that the above examples are an instance of so-called ‘modal concord’ or ‘double modality’, as discussed in Geurts & Huitink (2006), Zeijlstra (2007) and Elsman & Dubinsky (2009), among many others. Two (attested) English examples exhibiting this particular phenomenon are given in (73) (taken from Geurts & Huitink (2006: 15), their (1)):

(73)a.You may possibly have read my little monograph upon the subject.
b.Power carts must mandatorily be used on cart paths where provided.

In these two examples, two modal expressions (a verb and an adverb, both underscored) are present, but interpretively, they only yield one modal reading (namely an epistemic possibility modal in (73a) and a deontic root modal in (73b)). However, it seems to be the case that modal concord can only occur if the two modal expressions involved are either a verb and an adverb Zeijlstra (2007) or two verbs (Elsman & Dubinsky 2009). To the best of my knowledge, there is no language on record in which two modal adverbs of the same type are allowed to co-occur, even (i) if these adverbs are near-synonyms and (ii) if the language allows for modal concord involving at least one verb. For instance, in English such a pattern is strongly ungrammatical ((74), from Zeijlstra 2007: 318, his (10)):

(74)a.*John mandatorily obligatorily read the books.
b.*Rumpelstiltkin surely at any rate ate all the spaghetti.

This state of affairs is compatible with one of the main conclusions of Cinque's (1999) large-scale typological study, namely that each unique functional head in the clausal spine is endowed with a single specifier, which can host at least one phrasal adverb. Therefore, I conclude that quidem cannot with any plausibility be qualified as a modal particle. Instead, the proposal that I will work out in the next section is that it conveys affirmative polarity.

4.2Polar properties of quidem

The arguments to support my claim that quidem is a polar particle are three in number. First, there are contexts in which quidem is explicitly contrasted to non ‘not’: this suggests that quidem itself conveys positive polarity. Second, quidem can be found in affirmative replies to yes-no questions. Third, it also occurs in a specific type of syntactic ellipsis which has independently been claimed to involve polarity particles.

4.2.1. quidem contrasted to non

A first piece of evidence supporting the claim that quidem encodes positive polarity comes from examples in which quidem is contrastively juxtaposed to non, the most common marker of sentential negation in Latin. A number of relevant examples are given in (75)–(77):

(75)Eum uero, qui telum quidem miserit, sed non uulnerauerit, correptum rotatumque sternit nec uulnerat.
‘He got hold of any man who threw a missile at him without actually wounding him, he swung him around but did not wound him.’ (= Plin. N.H. 8.51)
(76)Ego nec Anacharsim auctorem huius rei fuisse contendo et si fuit, sapiens quidem hoc inuenit, sed non tamquam sapiens.
‘I claim that Anacharsis was not the inventor of this object (viz. the potter's wheel LD), and even if he was, he invented it being wise but not because of being wise.’ (= Sen. Epi. 90.31)
(77)Quidam esse quidem sed non quibus siderum nomen imponas […].
‘Some people <believe> that they (viz. comets LD) do exist, but that one cannot call them stars.’ (= Sen. Nat. Q. 7.19.1)

Observe that in all of these examples, where quidem arguably has clausal scope, quidem itself is not responsible for expressing a contrast between the two conjoined clauses: the connective sed takes care of that. Another very nice example is the following short passage from Quintilian:38

(78)Non enim dixi quidem <haec>, sed non <scripsi, nec scripsi quidem sed non> obii legationem,<nec obii quidem legationem>, sed non persuasi Thebanis.
lit.: ‘It is not the case that I did speak but that I did not submit a proposal, and it is not the case that I did submit a proposal but that I did not accept the duties of an ambassador, and it is not the case that I did accept the duties of an ambassador but that I did not persuade the Thebans.’ (= Quint. I.O. 9.3.55)

This slightly complicated example is partially, but probably correctly, restored.39 It contains three conjoined sentences of the logical form ‘¬ (A&¬B)’, which can be paraphrased as ‘it is not the case that I DID do A without doing B’). What all these examples show us is that there are clear cases where quidem is contrasted with non, the canonical marker of negative polarity. Under the assumption that the opposite of negative polarity is positive polarity, I conclude that quidem expresses positive polarity.40 In the following sections, I present some additional arguments in favour of this conclusion.

4.2.2. Replies to yes/no questions

A second piece of evidence is the fact that quidem can be found in affirmative answers to yes-no questions (cf. Thesleff 1960: 38–9), as in the following examples:

(79)Eho, an inuenisti Bacchidem? // Samiam quidem.
‘So, did you find Bacchis? // Yes, the Samian one.’ (= Plaut. Bacch. 200)
(80)Nempe ergo aperte uis quae restat me loqui? // Sane quidem.
‘Do you want me to say the rest in plain words then? // Yes, indeed!’ (= Ter. An. 195)
4.2.3. ‘Epitaxis’

Finally, evidence for the polar nature of quidem also comes from its behaviour in a very specific syntactic environment, called ‘epitaxis’ in Rosén (2008; 2009). A number of relevant examples is given below:

(81)Multum te ista fefellit opinio, et quidem [multis in locis].
‘That opinion of yours has misled you greatly, and indeed on many occasions.’
(= Cic. Ver. act. sec. 1.88)
(82)Quod olim fuerat nubilum nox est, et quidem [horrida ac terribilis intercursu luminis diri].
‘What used to be a cloud now is dark night; a dreadful night, terrible with occasional flashes of light.’ (= Sen. Nat. Q. 3.27.10)
(83)Decessit Corellius Rufus et quidem [sponte].
‘Corellius Rufus has died, and he did so by his own wish.’ (Pli. Epi. 1.12.1)
(84)Nobis quoque militandum est, et quidem [genere militiae quo numquam quies, numquam otium datur].
‘We have to serve in the army as well, and we have to do so in a kind of service in which rest or free time are never granted.’ (= Sen. Ep. 51.6)

In the syntactic literature, this phenomenon is known as ‘stripping’ (López & Winkler 2000; Merchant 2003; Winkler 2005) or ‘bare argument ellipsis’ (Reinhart 1991). It consists of an apparently asymmetric co-ordinated structure, with a fully fledged clause at the left-hand side and a single constituent at the right-hand side. The latter is optionally accompanied by an adverb or a particle, which in Latin can be for instance quidem, sane ‘surely’, utique ‘in any case’, tamen ‘still’, of which ‘[…] quidem is by far the most common one’ (Rosén 2009: 219). Rosén (2009: 206) informally but rather nicely characterizes the pragmatic status of the constituent in the second conjunct as follows: ‘The construction (viz. of epitaxis LD) may be likened to a perfectly fitted dress with a train trailing behind: the dress alone is perfect, but it is the train that catches the eye.’

I will not elaborate on the syntax of epitaxis. The reader is referred to Danckaert (2012: 88–93) for detailed discussion.41 In the present context, the most important remark to be made is that cross-linguistically, a very common ingredient of epitaxis seems to be a polarity marker (Winkler 2005: 161, 170–1; on the interaction between (emphatic) polarity and ellipsis, see also López & Winkler 2000: 634–45). This can be interpreted as yet another indication that quidem is a polarity item.42 As expected, we also find instances of epitaxis in which the constituent in the second conjunct is preceded by a marker of negative polarity:

(85)[…], quamquam is etiam ipse scripsit eas quibus pro se est usus, sed non [sine Aelio].
‘…, although he also wrote speeches himself, for his own use, but not without the help of Aelius.’ (= Cic. Brut. 206)

Moreover, interesting comparative material comes from Dutch. Apart from epitaxis with a co-ordinator and a negative polarity marker (as in (86)), one also finds examples with a co-ordinating conjunction and a positive polarity marker, namely wel (87):43

(86)Het Nederlandse elftal heeft de Belgische nationale ploeg verslagen, maar niet [zonder hulp van de scheidsrechter].
‘The Dutch team beat the Belgians, but not without some help of the referee.’
(87)De Belgische nationale ploeg heeft het Nederlandse elftal verslagen, en wel [met 10–0].
‘The Belgian national team beat the Dutch, and it did so with a 10–0 scoreline.’

Observe that wel in (87) is not a neutral marker of assertion or affirmation: regular affirmative declaratives do not contain an overt affirmation marker. Interestingly, a structure like (87) is the most idiomatic Dutch translation for cases of Latin epitaxis involving the string et quidem.

Having put forward evidence that quidem expresses affirmative polarity, I now turn to the pragmatic value of quidem.

5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In the remainder of this paper, I argue that Latin quidem, just like Dutch wel for instance, does not express ‘plain affirmation’, that is the positive counterpart of canonical sentential negation. Instead, I submit that quidem expresses (non-constrastive) emphatic affirmation, by which the speaker emphasizes that a given proposition does indeed hold. Such a sentential operator can be considered a manifestation of what Höhle (1992) called verum focus.

5.1On the focal nature of quidem

The claim that quidem is a focus particle has been made by many modern scholars (see for instance Adams 1994: 3–5; Rosén 2009 and Spevak 2010: 52–3, among many others). But is this assumption really well founded? Is there any independent evidence for the focalizing role of quidem? As I will show now, such independent evidence can indeed be found, namely from the discontinuous focus particle nequidem, which can be translated into English as ‘not even’.44

It seems clear that the precise denotation of the complex form nequidem cannot compositionally be computed from the denotations of the parts it consists of, but whether or not combined with ne, (part of) the input of quidem seems to be a focalizing one. Crucially however, and in strong constrast with bare quidem, nequidem invariably scopes over a single constituent. Two examples are given in (88) and (89):45

(88)Sed ne Iugurtha quidem interea quietus erat.
‘But in the mean while, not even Iugurtha kept quiet.’ (= Sal. Iug. 5.1.5)
(89)Ne tum quidem sequeris.
‘Not even then do you follow.’ (= Cic. Phil. 2.74)

The reader is referred to Devine & Stephens (2006: 266–72) for additional discussion of the placement of the element focalized by nequidem.46 Without going into further detail, I take the evidence from nequidem to lend support to the view that bare quidem is a focus particle.

As a result, one could hypothesize that the focal value of quidem together with its polar semantics argued for in section 4 yield a reading of ‘focal’ or ‘emphatic’ polarity. This hypothesis will be explored in the following section, which starts with some general discussion of the phenomenon of emphatic polarity, and more particularly of a special variant of this, namely verum focus.

5.2 The phenomenon of verum focus

Crosslinguistically, markers of emphatic polarity come in two types: they can either reverse or preserve the polarity of the proposition they operate on, thus either (i) contradicting (or denying) or (ii) confirming a previously uttered proposition.47 For instance, Dutch wel belongs to the class of contrastive or polarity reversing emphatic polarity markers: it can only be used to contradict or correct a previous negative statement (90a), not to reinforce or confirm a positive utterance (90b):

(90)a.A: Jan is niet naar de zee gegaan.
‘Jan did not go to the sea.’
B: Jan is wel naar de zee gegaan.
‘John DID go to the sea.’
b.A: Jan is naar de zee gegaan.
‘Jan went to the sea.’
#B: Jan is wel naar de zee gegaan.
‘John DID go to the sea.’

As I show below, Latin quidem is a polarity marker of the second type: whatever proposition it applies to, it can never reverse its polarity. Polarity preserving emphatic polarity markers can be considered to instantiate what Höhle (1992) called verum focus, a type of focalization that emphasizes the truth of a proposition. Importantly, a marker of verum focus typically is indifferent to the polarity of the proposition that acts as its argument: it can apply to propositions with positive and negative polarity alike.48

I give a brief illustration of verum focus in German. In this language, verum focus in declarative main clauses is realized by prosodic emphasis (indicated by small caps) on the finite verb (examples from Höhle 1992: 112–13, his (1b) and (4a)):

(91)a.Karl schreibt ein Drehbuch.
‘It is indeed true that Karl is writing a screenplay.’
b.Karl hat nicht gelogen.
‘It is the case that Karl didn't lie.’

As shown in (91b), the focus is not on the verb containing the lexical root, but rather on the hierarchically highest verb form in the clause, which can be an auxiliary.49 In German declarative main clauses, the hierarchically highest verb is not only fully inflected, it also surfaces in second position. This observation leads Höhle to suggest that verum focus is syntactically encoded in the clausal left periphery. Evidence supporting this claim comes from embedded declaratives: there we see that verum focus can be realized either by stressing the inflected verb (namely in a verb second embedded clauses, cf. (92a)), or by stressing the complementizer (92b). The examples in (92) are quasi-equivalent (modulo independent differences between verb second embedded declaratives and dass-clauses):

(92)a.Ich denke er hört damit auf.
b.Ich denke, dass er damit aufhört.
‘I think that it is indeed the case that he stops doing it.’

In other words, verum focus is not inherently linked to a verb form. Rather, it seems to be a property of the left periphery, which, under standard assumptions, encodes information related to the speech act and the wider discourse (such as illocutionary force, clause type, topics, foci, some discourse particles).

Many researchers have proposed that apart from the canonical polarity at the level of the proposition, a second marker of emphatic affirmation can be expressed at the speech-act level (cf. Culicover 1991; Butler 2003; Drubig 2003; Danckaert & Haegeman 2012 among many others). In what follows, I investigate whether quidem can be considered such a speech-act-modifying polarity marker.

5.3. quidem as a verum operator

The proposal to be worked out in this section is that quidem is a marker of verum focus, in the sense that it takes as its argument a proposition p, and that it asserts that p is indeed true. This idea was foreshadowed in Solodow (1978: 13): ‘The truth of the statement made with quidem is always insisted on, however qualified’.50 Under this view, quidem could be said to be the focal variant of ‘plain’ affirmative polarity.

5.3.1. Interpretive aspects

First of all, analysing quidem as a marker of verum focus helps us to understand a number of interpretive properties of quidem discussed above. For instance, it now comes as no surprise that quidem is often translated into English as ‘really’, ‘in any event’, ‘indeed’ etc., and into French as ‘il est vrai’, ‘à la vérité’ or ‘sans doute’ (cf. section 1.1). Furthermore, it explains why it is so frequently attested alongside modal adverbs expressing a high degree of (epistemic) certainty.51

The verum hypothesis makes two further predictions, both of which can be tested. First, assuming that quidem is indeed a focal marker of affirmative polarity rather than the positive counterpart of neutral sentential negation non, we expect it to be compatible with the latter. Second, on the basis of Höhle's (1992) proposals on the tight link between verum focus and the left periphery, we predict quidem to have its base position in the (clausal) left periphery. As we see in the following sections, there is evidence that confirms both of these predictions.

5.3.2. Co-occurrence with lower negation

Evidence for the claim that quidem, in its quality of a marker of positive polarity, is not merely the positive counterpart of canonical sentential negation comes from distributional facts, and more specifically from the observation that both elements can co-occur, as in (93) and (94):

(93)Cyrenaici quidem non recusant.
‘The Cyrenaics indeed do not reject it.’ (= Cic. Fin. 2.114)
(94)At metuere quidem non oportet.
‘But there certainly is no reason to fear.’ (= Cic. Inv. 1.72)

This state of affairs is not expected if we assume that each clause can only be specified for one (neutral) polar value. Note furthermore that quidem systematically scopes over sentential negation, even when it surfaces linearly to its right. For instance, in (95), the author emphasizes (viz. by means of quidem) that he would not ‘non’ want to be deprived of what is most dear to him, as suggested by the English translation (with indeed > not). The surface order observed in (95) (with ‘nonquidem’) follows from quidem's weak adverb status and the concomitant ban on the adverb appearing in first position.

(95)Non essem quidem tam diu in desiderio rerum mihi carissimarum.
‘For I would indeed not be in want of what is precious to me for such a long time.’
(= Cic. Fam. 2.12.3)

All this seems to suggest that quidem occupies a position in the clausal hierarchy which is higher than the locus where sentential negation is expressed.

5.3.3A left-peripheral position for quidem

There are at least three reasons to assume that this high position is a left-peripheral one. The first of these has to do with linear word order in sentences in which both a left-peripheral topic and a wh item are present. In the examples in (96) and (97), a rhetorical question and an exclamative respectively, both with a topic constituent preceding the wh word, quidem surfaces to the left of the wh word (underscored). Given that Latin did not have ‘wh in situ’, we can be sure that the wh words in these examples are themselves located in the left periphery. It follows that in these examples, quidem itself surfaces in a left-peripheral position as well.

(96)Midae quidem anulum, quo circumacto habentem nemo cerneret, quis non etiam fabulosiorem fateatur?
‘As for Midas’ ring, which, when turned around, would make invisible the person who wears it, who would not confess this to be even more fabulous?’ (= Plin. N.H. 33.9)
(97)Feles quidem quo silentio, quam leuibus uestigiis obrepunt auibus!
‘With what silence, with what a light gait do cats creep up to birds!’
(= Plin. N.H. 10.202)

The second argument is based on the behaviour of quidem in the ‘epitaxis’ contexts discussed in section 4.2.3. On the assumption that epitaxis (or ‘stripping’) involves a process of clausal ellipsis that only preserves (a portion of) the left periphery (Merchant 2003), it again follows that quidem itself is located in the left periphery. The assumption that Latin et quidem epitaxis is amenable to such an ellipsis account can be defended along the following lines: given the standard assumption that co-ordination is symmetric (‘co-ordination of likes’),52 and given that the first conjunction of an epitaxis configuration is always a tensed clause, it follows that the second conjunct is always a tensed clause as well, and not a noun phrase or a prepositional phrase (depending on the categorial status of the focus constituent). Next, the systematic absence of a tensed verb in the second conjunct of an epitaxis configuration can only be explained if we assume there to be a process of syntactic ellipsis, which deletes the entire Tense Phrase (where Tense, Aspect and Mood are encoded) but does not affect the (entire) left periphery.

Third, in Danckaert (2012: 83–93) it is proposed that the left-peripheral position of quidem together with its focal character can successfully account for the limited distribution of quidem in embedded clauses. quidem can thus be considered a so-called ‘Main Clause Phenomenon’, a syntactic element or process whose distribution in embedded contexts is restricted or outright excluded. Importantly, from the syntactic literature (see esp. Haegeman 2012) we know that a substantial subset of these Main Clause Phenomena involves the clausal left periphery (on the status of emphatic polarity as a Main Clause Phenomenon, see Danckaert & Haegeman 2012).53

In the final part of this section, I return to an issue that was briefly touched upon in section 2.2.2, namely the linear position of weak quidem. Having seen that there are reasons to assume that syntactically quidem belongs to the clausal left periphery, we are now in a position to offer a more correct characterization of quidem's positional behaviour.

5.4On the linear position of weak quidem

Many of the arguments put forward in this paper were somehow related to the descriptive generalization formulated in section 2.2.2, which said that weak quidem can never be the first word of a clause. However, this negative characterization is obviously too vague to provide a full understanding of the placement of quidem, for this element certainly does not systematically appear in second position, as does a ‘well-behaved’ Wackernagel-clitic like autem ‘but’. This section aims at offering a more precise account of the positional behaviour of quidem, based on both syntactic and phonological factors. The syntactic part of the story says that quidem has its base position in the (clausal) left periphery, as argued for in the previous section. Crucially, however, I suggest that in the linear surface string, quidem does not always appear in this base position: in certain contexts phonological readjustment rules apply which displace quidem to the second position of a prosodic unit. More specifically, there is evidence that both (i) the element to the left of quidem and (ii) the unit in second position of which the particle occurs is to be defined in phonological terms (or perhaps more correctly, in terms of ‘prosodic phonology’, in the sense of Nespor & Vogel 2007).54 An account along the same lines was recently proposed by Brown, Joseph & Wallace (2009: 502–4) in their discussion of the placement of the clitic particle -ne (the marker of neutral yes-no questions in (classical) Latin).

First, there is evidence that the element to the left of quidem is a prosodic unit rather than a syntactic constituent.55 Consider for instance (98) (which was discussed in section 3.1), in which quidem appears in the middle of a constituent (namely the prepositional phrase per hos maxime uiros ‘precisely through those men’):

(98)Et per hos quidem maxime uiros salutaris ista nobis professio increuit.
‘And it is indeed precisely through those men that our salutary profession grew up.’
(= Cels. Med. Pro. 11)

In this example, the string to the left of quidem, per hos (or et per hos, for that matter), is definitely not a syntactic constituent. However, the sequence per hos does in all likelihood constitute an independent phonological unit.56 I would like to submit that for this reason, it qualifies as a host for quidem, which then appears after the first phonological unit of the clause. Note that given a phonological characterization of quidem's host, it comes as no surprise that this element (in contrast with clitic -quidem; see below) is indifferent to the syntactic category of its host: the latter can be a verb, a noun, a pronoun or any other category, without any discrimination.

The second point concerns the strength of the second-position requirement. Is it a law, or just a tendency? And in those cases where the second-position requirement is respected, what is the nature of the unit in which quidem occupies the second slot? Is it a clause (which can be defined in purely syntactic terms), or rather a prosodic unit? I would like to propose that the second-position requirement can be maintained in its strong form, but that it should be formulated in terms of (larger) prosodic units (or ‘cola’, in the sense of Fraenkel 1932 and Habinek 1985)57 rather than in terms of syntactic clauses (which themselves can consist of one or more cola). More specifically, I propose that quidem always appears in the second position of a colon, but that the colon in which it appears does not have to be the first colon of the clause. Importantly, however, it can only appear in (for instance) the second colon if the first colon consists of left-peripheral material, usually one or more topics.

Consider for instance an example like (99), in which quidem seems to appear in the middle of a clause:

(99)Quare in cohortando atque suadendo propositum quidem nobis erit illud, ut doceamus qua re bona consequi malaque uitare possimus.
‘For this reason, it will be our aim in both exhorting and advising to teach how we can attain what is good and avoid what is bad.’ (= Cic. Part. or. 91)

On the basis of an example like this, we can conclude that quidem does not systematically occur in the second slot of a clause. However, this should not be taken to indicate that quidem can appear in any given position in the middle field. As was just proposed, there are reasons to assume that quidem has its base position in the clausal left periphery, which is the leftmost zone of the clause that contains among other things wh words, topics and certain focal constituents (cf. Rizzi 1997; Danckaert 2012). If we accept this, three scenarios can be imagined. The first is one in which quidem is the only element present in the left periphery. In such a case, quidem undergoes short phonology-driven rightward movement and attaches to the first prosodically independent unit of the main body of the clause (the TP, in syntactic terms): this element can for instance be the subject of the clause. This scenario is exemplified by example (19) (discussed in sections 2.2.2 and 3.2.4 (where it appears as (57))). Second, it is possible that quidem is joined in the left periphery by other material, like for instance a topic. Such is the case in (100), where both quidem and the noun phrase feles ‘cats’ appear in the left periphery, namely to the left of the exclamative wh words quo and quam:

(100)Feles quidem quo silentio, quam leuibus uestigiis obrepunt auibus!
‘With what silence, with what a light gait do cats creep up to birds!’
(= Plin. N.H. 10.202) (= (97))

Assuming that topics appear more leftward than left-peripheral foci (cf. Benincà & Poletto 2004), quidem in (97) presumably does not undergo any phonologically driven movement, as it already has a full phonological word to its left. However, it does surface in the second position of the first colon of the clause. The third and final scenario is exemplified by cases like (99), in which more than one constituent is found to the left of quidem (here quare, in cohortando atque suadendo and propositum). In these cases too, it is possible to maintain that quidem itself is left-peripheral, despite appearances: one only has to assume that the second position requirement should be understood as referring to cola rather than to clauses. Assume then that the two constituents quare and in cohortando atque suadendo form a separate colon to the exclusion of the rest of the clause: this could well be because they are both topics. If we then say that quidem has to occur after the first phonologically independent unit of a colon, cases like (99) can be made sense of: the entire chunk quare in cohortando atque suadendo is not a possible host for quidem since it is an entire colon rather than just a part of a colon, whence the need for quidem to move to the right and attach to the next possible host, in this case the participle propositum. By doing so, it ends up in the second position of the second colon of the clause.

In sum, in order to correctly understand the placement of weak quidem, it is necessary to take into account both syntactic (the left-peripheral base position of quidem, presence of other left-peripheral material) and prosodic factors (the articulation of a clause into prosodic units). In addition, there presumably is a correlation between quidem's syntactic deficiency (i.e. its impoverished internal functional structure) and its lack of phonological independence.

5.5. Summary

In the past sections, I have elaborated on the third and final claim of this paper. Having argued that quidem is a propositional operator expressing affirmative polarity, I made the additional proposal that quidem does not express neutral affirmation. Rather, I have characterized it as a marker of non-contrastive emphatic polarity, which is also known as verum focus. To conclude the paper, I revisit the data mentioned in section 3.4, in which quidem appears inside a noun phrase or a prepositional phrase (section 6). I suggest that data of this type are not problematic for the analysis that I have developed. Next, I make some additional remarks about equidem and clitic -quidem (section 7).

6. quidem in noun phrases

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In section 3.4, I discuss a number of examples in which quidem does not seem to have sentential scope (cf. (59) and (60)). Consider again a relevant example of quidem in a noun phrase, repeated here for convenience as (101):

(101)Is enim [ulterioribus quidem diebus] cubantis etiam luxuriae subscripsit, primis uero tortoris uicem exhibuit.
‘For in the last days of the illness he (viz. Asclepiades LD) allowed his patient some luxuries, but in the first days he played the part of the torturer.’ (= Cels. Med. 3.4.3)

In this example, quidem seems to highlight a contrast between the adjectives ulterioribus ‘last’ and primis ‘first’. Proponents of the view that quidem can focalize a single constituent would presumably say that quidem in (101) induces narrow focus on ulterioribus. But is this really the only way to interpret these facts?

First of all, note that the appearance of a polarity marker like quidem in the nominal domain need not surprise us. There is ample evidence that there are significant parallels between the functional make-up of noun phrases and clauses (see among many others Abney 1987; Bernstein 2001; Rijkhoff 2008; specifically on Latin, see Giusti & Oniga 2007). Noun phrases have been argued to be endowed with a rich functional superstructure in which elements with modal and polar force can be hosted. Elements which are typically considered to be propositional modifiers but can also occur in the nominal domain include negation (102a) and various modal adverbs, like ‘probably’ (epistemic modality), ‘allegedly’ (evidential) and ‘fortunately’ (evaluative) (cf. Cinque 1999). For instance, in (102), these elements appear as modifiers in adnominal appositions (see also O'Connor 2008: 96–7, (102b–d) are her (118a–c)):

(102)a.Surprisingly, Roger Federer, not the worst player in the world, was beaten in straight sets.
b.His death, probably a suicide, is glossed over and there is no actual diagnosis to back up the pop psychology. (epistemic modality)
c.Smith, allegedly unaware of the proposed amendment, declined to comment. (evidential modality)
d.Racial profiling, unfortunately a frequent occurrence in American society, must be stopped. (evaluative modality)

This being so, examples like (101) seem to contradict my earlier claim that quidem can only be a propositional operator. However, there are at least two considerations that suggest that the original proposal is actually tenable, an interpretive and a syntactic one. First, consider again (101). In this example, the contrast expressed is not just between ulterioribus and primis. Rather, what is really contrasted is two entire situations, a later one in which the doctor allows for a mild regime, and an earlier one in which he is really strict with his patients. What quidem does in the first conjunct (the concessive clause of the pair of adversatively conjoined propositions) is confirm the proposition that in some respects Asclepiades was a mild doctor (be it with some modification). This proposition was already part of the common ground: this we can deduce from the immediately previous sentence (falluntur qui per omnia iucundam eius disciplinam esse concipiunt ‘they are wrong, those who think that all aspects of his method are enjoyable’), which so to speak ‘activates’ the idea of Asclepiades as an easy-going doctor. quidem confirms that this is at least partly true. The second clause (the one after the connective sed) then further adjusts the communis opinio on Asclepiades and his methods.

Second, it is well known that the scope of polarity markers is not systematically restricted to the domain in which they are embedded. For instance, in some cases it is possible for the English negator no to scope out of a prepositional phrase (see De Clercq 2010 for recent discussion). Consider for instance the pair in (103):

(103)a.[With no clothes] Lee would look lovely.
b.[With no clothes] would Lee look lovely.

(103a) conveys that a given person called Lee would look lovely wearing no clothes (i.e. when naked). (103b) on the other hand means that there are no clothes such that Lee would look lovely when wearing them. From a syntactic point of view, the main difference between these two sentences is that no has constituent scope in (103a) and sentential scope in (103b) (cf. Klima 1964). The main diagnostic for this difference is the fact that only preverbal sentential negation can give rise to subject-auxiliary inversion (‘would Lee’ rather than ‘Lee would’), as in (103b). Moreover, no with constituent scope cannot license the negative polarity item any (104a), unlike no with sentential scope (and concomitant subject-auxiliary inversion) (104b):

(104)a.[In no time] Jules had stolen some/*any money.
b.[At no time] would Jules steal any/*some money.

In sum, there is good evidence that the syntactic scope of a polar element need not necessarily be restricted to the constituent it is embedded in. Given the meaning of sentences like (101), it seems reasonable to assume that quidem is also able to scope out of noun phrases or prepositional phrases. However, it is clear that this matter deserves to be investigated more thoroughly. In future research I hope to return to the question under which circumstances ‘nominal’ quidem is preferred over clausal quidem (or in other words, which factor(s) cause(s) quidem to be merged in the nominal domain rather than in the functional structure of the clause). Moreover, it remains to be investigated whether this particular pattern was available in all stages of Latin.

I now turn to the very last part of this paper, which is devoted to equidem and clitic -quidem.

7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In this last section, I briefly consider whether my proposals about the scope and interpretation of quidem can be carried over to equidem and -quidem. With respect to the latter, I point out that it is not at all obvious how to establish a dataset that could serve as the empirical basis for testing the two hypotheses.

7.1. equidem as a propositional operator

I start by suggesting that just like quidem, equidem always scopes over an entire clause. Although it is certainly the case that equidem is not usually considered to be a particle that is specialized in inducing constituent focus, the Oxford Latin Dictionary (s.v. equidem, section 2) does claim that equidem sometimes stresses single words, ‘as a mere emphatic particle’. An example where one might be tempted to think that this is the case is the following, where equidem can be interpreted as narrowly emphasizing the adjective uanum ‘vain’:

(105)Quare uanum equidem hoc consilium est.
‘Therefore this plan really is vain.’ (= Sal. Cat. 52.16)

It might be true that the adjectival predicate uanum is a focus, but in all likelihood this is encoded through word order (and through word order only).58 For reasons of space, I will not illustrate the same point with more examples, but the reasoning would be the same as the one I developed for quidem. Concomitantly, I think there is no reason to suppose that equidem can ever induce constituent focus.

As to the second point, it is less clear whether equidem had the same semantics as quidem. For instance, I could not find any cases in which equidem appears in the epitaxis configuration, nor any example of the type ‘X equidem, sed non Y’, both of which I took to be evidence for the claim that quidem conveys positive polarity. A second aspect that needs to be mentioned in this context is the often-observed tendency for equidem to occur in clauses in which the finite verb is inflected for first-person singular. This tendency has not been reported for (-)quidem, and this does not follow from an account in which the sole difference between quidem and equidem is one of internal structure. I therefore tentatively conclude that the semantic content of equidem was slightly different from the one of quidem, perhaps as the result of a diachronic process.

7.2Clitic -quidem in Classical Latin?

The question also arises whether my earlier conclusions are also valid for clitic -quidem. However, recall that even in Plautus and Terence we only have a relatively small number of certain attestations of this element (i.e. cases of which we can be sure that -quidem gave rise to Kürzung durch Tonanschluß). Arguably, such a small corpus would not be a sound basis for formulating inductive generalizations about the syntax or interpretation of this element. But is it possible to enlarge our dataset with later attestations of this clitic adverb? Did clitic -quidem exist in Classical Latin, or did it disappear from the language? In this section, I explore some arguments that suggest that clitic -quidem was still present in Classical Latin.

At the end of section 2.2.3, I pointed out that one has to assume that in order for Kürzung durch Tonanschluß to be able to take place, two conditions have to be met: (i) the host word has to be a pronoun or a conjunction; and (ii) the cliticizing element has to be a member of a lexically defined class of elements. This has implications for the diachronic development of this particular phenomenon. Kürzung durch Tonanschluß is not only rather rare in early texts, it is even less well attested in metrical texts from the classical era. Cases involving -quidem are restricted to attestations of sĭquidem (e.g. Ov. Met. 10.104; Am. 3.7.17) and quandŏquidem (e.g. Verg. Buc. 3.55) in dactylic verse, presumably mainly (if not only) used for metrical reasons. Assuming the lack of attestations in later metrical texts to be non-accidental but to reflect a diachronic change, I see two possible ways in which the observed evolution can be accounted for: either clitic -quidem disappeared from the system, or the phenomenon of Kürzung durch Tonanschluß did. There are at least two reasons to assume that the second option is correct.

First, Kürzung durch Tonanschluß disappears entirely (abstracting away from the metri causa exceptions), not only in contexts where -quidem is the cliticizing element. This is not expected if we assume that the change that we are trying to account for is only due to the loss of -quidem, unless one is willing to call upon a conspiracy between different elements (-quidem, -quis) independently losing their clitic character and thus their ability to induce shortening, whereas all other clitics that were clitics in early Latin but could not give rise to Kürzung durch Tonanschluß (like personal pronouns or forms of esse) are also clitic in Classical Latin and remained unable to influence the weight of the final syllable of their host: arguably not a very elegant account. Second, an interesting parallel can be drawn with the phenomenon of correptio iambica. Although this process is until today not fully understood, it is safe to say that it was fully productive in Plautus and Terence, whereas in later texts, it was mainly restricted to lexically defined classes of words, like bisyllabic pronouns like mihi and tibi (assuming that in both cases the phonological phenomenon involved is the same). From this we can conclude that in the evolution from early to Classical Latin, there was a change with respect to the way in which a ‘context-sensitive’ rule of phonological shortening (viz. iambic shortening) was applied: it was productive in early Latin and obsolete in Classical Latin. The same might very well hold for another context-sensitive rule of phonological shortening, namely Kürzung durch Tonanschluß.

If this (admittedly speculative) way of reasoning is on the right track, clitic -quidem might still be alive and kicking in Classical Latin. But can this hypothesis be verified, or are clitic -quidem (if it exists at all) and weak quidem bound to remain indistinguishable (given the loss of the (main) diagnostic of clitic -quidem)? I see only one way in which we can test whether this element was still there in the classical era, which is to look at the element to the left of (–)quidem. Recall that clitic -quidem is selective when it comes to choosing a host: it attaches to pronouns and subordinating conjunctions. If we now assume that this requirement as well as the clitic character of -quidem are preserved in Classical Latin, but that the element no longer shortened the final syllable of its host (cf. the evidence from metrical texts), we might get a handle on otherwise unexplained59 variation of the type illustrated in (106)–(108):

(106)a.Paucae ciuitates, ut quidem ego audio, […] in ius dicionemque uenerunt.
‘As far as I've heard, only a few cities came to acknowledge our authority.’
(= Liv. aUc 40.35.13)
b.In Herodoto uero cum omnia, ut ego quidem sentio, leniter fluunt, tum ipsa dialectos habet eam iocunditatem, ut latentes in <se> numeros complexa uideatur.
‘While in Herodotus all the words follow a gentle flow (at least that's how I perceive it), the dialect itself has an additional charm: it seems to contain rhythms that are concealed in it.’ (= Quint. I.O. 9.4.18)
(107)a.Illam autem concinnitatem […] adhibet quidem hic subtilis […].
‘This harmonic word placement is put to practice by this type of orator, be it without exaggeration.’ (= Cic. Or. 83)
b.Hic ego: etsi facit hic quidem, inquam, Piso, ut uides, ea, quae praecipis, tamen mihi grata hortatio tua est.
‘At this point I said: Even though he is already doing everything you advise him, Piso, as you can see, still I'm grateful for your encouraging him.’ (= Cic. Fin. 5.2.6)
(108)a.Et quidem hoc a Cyrenaico Hegesia sic copiose disputatur, ut […].
‘And this is indeed so elaborately discussed by Hegesias the Cyrenaic, that …’
(= Cic. Tusc. 1.83)
b.Et hoc quidem mihi cum Bruto conuenit, id est cum Aristotele Xenocrate Speusippo Polemone.
‘And on this point I do indeed agree with Brutus, that is to say with Aristotle, Xenocrates, Speusippos and Polemon.’ (= Cic. Tusc. 5.39)

In these three pairs, the a examples exhibit the string ‘X-quidem-pronoun’, whereas in the b examples we read ‘X-pronoun-quidem’. Note that in the last two pairs of examples, X (i.e. the word to the left of the complex ‘quidem-pronoun’ or ‘pronoun-quidem’) is neither a conjunction nor a pronoun, and hence not a likely host for clitic -quidem. Therefore, we can be confident that the occurrences of quidem in (107a) and (108a) are weak adverbs rather than clitics.60 The two different patterns can now quite elegantly be explained if we assume that in the a examples we are dealing with the weak adverb, which only wants to end up in the second position of a colon, and in the b examples with the clitic adverb, which – in addition to being ungrammatical in first position – imposes special lexical constraints on its phonological host (in the cases at hand, it attaches to a pronoun). Therefore, I would like to draw the tentative conclusion that clitic -quidem still existed in Classical Latin. However, it goes without saying that this matter should be investigated in more detail before we are in a position to assess the scopal and interpretive properties of -quidem. Unfortunately, this goes beyond the scope of the present paper.61

8. Conclusion and directions for future research

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
  11. References

In the opening sections of this paper, I pointed out that in studying discourse particles, it is important to take into account pragmatic factors alongside purely lexical semantics. I have proposed that quidem can be treated in a unified way, but that the common core of all instantiations of quidem is not atomic; rather, it consists of a semantic and a pragmatic component. At the semantic level, I have proposed that quidem is a marker of emphatic affirmative polarity. On the other hand, the pragmatic function of quidem is argued to be a focusing one. This is not to say that this is the entire story about the pragmatics of quidem. Another aspect of the meaning of quidem that deserves closer scrutiny is the environment in which the particle appears: does it operate on old or new information? Moreover, does it occur at the beginning or end of discourse units, and is it speaker- or hearer-oriented? I hope to address these and other questions in future research.

  1. 1

    For the time being, I will not take into account the combination of quidem with the negative marker ne, together forming the complex ne X quidem, ‘not even X’, where X can be virtually any syntactic constituent. I assume that the meaning of this collocation is not compositional (i.e. that it cannot be derived from the meaning of the two elements it consists of). However, as I will argue below (section 5.1), plain quidem and quidem in nequidem probably do share one important characteristic, namely the fact that they both qualify as focus particles.

  2. 2

    See also Solodow (1978: 6) and Kroon (1995: passim) for similar objections against polysemy-based approaches to quidem and to (Latin) discourse particles in general. It needs to be stressed though that frequent collocations of quidem with other elements are not altogether insignificant: any account of quidem will have to make sure that the meaning attributed to this particle is compatible with the elements it is frequently combined with.

  3. 3

    The author specifies that with ‘basic meaning’, he refers to the meaning component of quidem ‘that … most transparently embodies the essential nature of the particle’ (Solodow 1978: 30).

  4. 4

    Similarly, Spevak (2010: 53): ‘When quidem modifies a constituent it signals a contrast with another element.’

  5. 5

    Other examples in which quidem occurs in a clause introduced by sed include Cic. Phil. 14.30; Col. Agr. 4.22.5; Fro. Epi. Haines I.82.2; Tac. Ann. 4.29 and Tac. Ann. 6.28.

  6. 6

    Although I cannot back this up with exact quantitative data, it seems clear that the vast majority of the relative clauses containing quidem are non-restrictive (see also Kroon 2005: 587). quidem is only occasionally attested in restrictive relative clause. Two tokens are given below (see OLD (s.v. quidem, section 1d) for additional examples):

    (i)Ceteri Graeci Latinique auctores quorum quidem ego legi annales nihil memorabile a Villio actum integrumque bellum insequentem consulem T. Quinctium accepisse tradunt.
    ‘Some Greek and Latin authors, at least those whose accounts I read, write that nothing worth mentioning was effectuated by Villius, and that Titus Quinctius, the following consul, inherited the war in its entirety’. (= Liv. aUc 32.6.8)
    (ii) nam mihi uideor iam de omnibus rebus eius gestis dixisse quae quidem ad belli fugitiuorum suspicionem pertinerent.
    ‘I think I have talked about all his actions related to the suspicion of raising the slaves to war’. (= Cic. Ver. act. sec. 5.25)
  7. 7

    On the status of parentheticals and appositions as separate assertions, see Potts (2002; 2005).

  8. 8

    On the ‘abstract core meaning of discourse particles’, see also Kroon (1995).

  9. 9

    This point will be touched upon in section 2.2.2 (fn. 14).

  10. 10

    Very little information about the morphosyntax of quidem can be gleaned from its etymology, about which there is no consensus among philologists. It apparently consists of an indefinite qu- (= wh) stem and an adverbial suffix, but no transparent meaning arises from this combination. de Vaan (2008: 166, s.v. -dem) describes the suffix -dem (originally -em) as a marker of emphasis or focus, and Ernout & Meillet (1967: 556) derive quidem from < *quid-em or < *que-dem.

  11. 11

    As a reviewer points out, this triplet is slightly odd in that emége is far less well attested than the other two pronouns. However, it is a nice illustration of a complete paradigm in which three pronouns are all proper sub-/supersets of each other (in terms of their morphological make-up).

  12. 12

    In addition, an (independently motivated) ‘economy of representation’ condition has to be invoked to rule out the possibility of (17b) being grammatical with bien as a strong adverb: this condition says that if there is no reason to use a strong form, a weak form has to be used (or inversely, in those contexts where a weak form suffices (i.e. where there is no co-ordination, focus), a strong form is ungrammatical (cf. the ungrammaticality of French *Il a vu nous ‘he has seen us’ (strong form not licensed) vs. Il a vu nous et les autres ‘he has seen us and the others’ (strong form licensed by co-ordination)).

  13. 13

    Despite its status as a strong adverb, equidem is never found in co-ordination with another adverb. However, this need not surprise us: under standard assumptions, co-ordination always involves two (or possibly more) members that are categorially non-distinct (cf. ‘co-ordination of likes’). In section 5.3, I argue that quidem conveys emphatic affirmative polarity. The only other member of the category of emphatic polarity markers is emphatic negative polarity; conjoining such a marker with equidem would yield an irreparable contradiction.

  14. 14

    In early Latin, quidem can be found in clause-final position, as in (i) (= (13)) and (ii):

    (i)Mala crux east quidem.
    ‘She's a plague, that's for sure!’ (= Plaut. Cas. 416)
    (ii) Quin hercle di te perdant postremo quidem.
    ‘Good heavens, may the gods finally destroy you!’ (= Plaut. Cas. 609)

    Clause-final placement of quidem seems to be restricted to Plautus and Terence. In prose texts of the classical era, I could not find a single example of this pattern. This presumably reflects a diachronic change, assuming that this observation is not to be ascribed to an independent difference qua word order in poetry and in prose. (Note that Cato cannot be used for comparison here: remarkably, bare quidem is attested only once in all of his works, that is, in a fragment of the Origines quoted in the Noctes Atticae, ‘atque ego quidem arbitror Rhodienses…’). Interestingly however, the clause-final pattern seems to come back in late Latin. An example from the Mulomedicina Chironis (late 4th c.?) is given in (iii):

    (iii)Ex quo morbo contagium patiuntur iumenta, quodquod ungula rotunda calcant quidem.
    ‘As a result of this disease the animals will suffer from an infection, especially when they tread on the ground with a swollen hoof.’ (= Chir. Mul. 164)

    It is conceivable that in the spoken language, quidem had become a more independent phrasal adverb, not subject to special positional constraints. For one thing, the author of the Mulomedicina also allows for quidem to occur in clause-initial position (cf. (iv), assuming the text is correct). This is attested neither in early nor in classical Latin:

    (iv)Quidem sine febre non erit, cibum non tam libenter appetit nec potum, sed magis iacere uult.
    ‘For sure it won't be free of fever, it won't eat nor drink with normal appetite, but rather, it will want to lay down.’ (= Chir. Mul. 239)
  15. 15

    In this case it is immaterial whether the i of hic was long or short; for metrical purposes, the closed syllable counts as heavy under either scenario.

  16. 16

    As such, -quidem is not very different from, for instance, Italian pronominal object clitics, in that these are also members of a lexically defined class (viz. the one of pronouns) and that they also only cliticize to elements of a specific grammatical category (viz. verbs).

  17. 17

    Questa (2007: 153): ‘L’abbreviamento per enclisi è il fenomeno per cui una sillaba lunga può diventare breve se riceve accento d'enclisi dalla parola successiva. Questo fenomeno è oscuro e complesso, …' ‘Shortening through enclisis is the phenomenon through which a long syllable can become short when it receives an enclitic accent from the following word. This phenomenon is obscure and complex…’.

  18. 18

    In other words, whenever in Plautus or Terence a string ‘pronoun + quidem’ or ‘subordinating conjunction + quidem’ can be shown not to involve Kürzung durch Tonanschluß, we can be sure that we are dealing with weak quidem rather than with the clitic.

  19. 19

    See section 7.2 for an additional argument in favour of postulating two distinct lexical items, related to the absence of Kürzung durch Tonanschluß in classical Latin.

  20. 20

    Hofmann & Szantyr (1965: 486): quidem ‘[…] steht stets enklitisch hinter dem Wort, dessen Begriff hervorgehoben werden soll’ (‘is always placed as an enclitic after the word whose meaning is to be emphasized’).

  21. 21

    On quidem, see also Spevak (2010: 52–3).

  22. 22

    As far as I am aware, nobody ever explicitly made the claim that quidem is a topic marker (but see Wanner 1987: 134, where something along these lines seems to be (tacitly) assumed).

  23. 23

    Note that not all overt (nominative) pronouns are foci: other pragmatic functions (topics obviously being a case in point) can trigger the overt encoding of a discourse referent (see e.g. Pinkster 1987). Moreover, some overt pronouns (especially forms of is) are perhaps best considered to be fairly neutral, not endowed with any special pragmatic function, but overtly realized in order to facilitate the hearer's task of keeping track of the different discourse participants (cf. among others Bolkestein & van de Grift 1994).

  24. 24

    On the positioning of possessive adnominal modifiers, see Spevak (2010: 250–4). It is by no means the case that a prenominal possessive is always emphatic, but depending on certain circumstances (especially the nature of the modified noun), it is possible that it actually is. In order to assess whether tua in (27) can be considered to be ‘emphatic through placement’, I carried out a small search on the Brepolis database ( In all the texts of the period ‘Antiquitas’ (i.e. texts from before 200 ad), I looked for all cases where a form of the noun pietas is modified by the 2sg possessive pronoun (only including cases where the two are linearly adjacent). As it turns out, apart from Pli. Epi. 10.1 in (27) there are only two attestations of a form of pietas preceded by (a form of) tua, both from the same text (Plaut. Poen. 1137 and 1277). On the other hand, there are 13 cases where the possessive pronoun follows pietas (viz. Plaut. Cas. 382; Verg. Aen. 10.812; Ov. Ars. am. 2.315; Cic. pro Rab. 14; Sen. Rhet. Contr. 7.1.3 (; Sen. Rhet. Contr. 7.1.3 (; Sen. Cons. ad Pol. 3.2; Sen. Cons. ad. Helv. 4.2; Stat. Silv. 4, praef.; Trai. imp. Ep. ad Plin. 10.9; ps.-Quint. Decl. XIX mai. 9.12; Fro. Epi. Haines I.108; Apu. Apo. 98). From this, I conclude that the discourse-neutral order was pietas tua, and that the pronoun tua in (27) is inherently focal, and not focalized by quidem.

  25. 25

    See section 5.4.

  26. 26

    Interestingly, in the majority of these 82 cases (72 tokens), quidem itself was preceded by an adverbial subordinating conjunction or by a relative pronoun, which, as we see in section 3.2.2, is unlikely to be a focus.

  27. 27

    On ellipsis in clauses introduced by the string et quidem, see section 4.2.3.

  28. 28

    On uses of unstressed AND conjunctions, see for instance Pander Maat (2001).

  29. 29

    Observe that in the light of the discussion in section 7.2, it is possible that quidem in (39) is the clitic rather than the weak adverb. The same holds for all other examples from classical Latin where quidem follows a pronoun (like (51)) or a subordinating conjunction.

  30. 30

    To be more precise, the correct generalization seems to be that some (but not that many) adverbs can be clefted (and thus focalized), whereas others cannot. Modal adverbs seem to constitute a class of adverb that resists clefting very strongly. Thus Ernst (2002: 458): ‘[(i) LD] illustrates that while some temporal and (less acceptably) manner adverbs may appear in it-clefts, modal adverbs may not.

    (i) It was (only) {recently/?quietly/*probably} that she performed that song.’
  31. 31

    Apart from questions with more than one wh word, multiple foci also occur in contexts where more than one constituent (marked with a pitch accent) is associated with a single focus particle (as in an English example like Bill only/even introduced JOHN to SUE, cf. Krifka 1992). Again, this context is pragmatically rather exceptional.

  32. 32

    Note that which of these two readings is the correct one cannot be determined with full certainty: a left-peripheral topic and an in-situ subject would both surface in clause-initial position, and without access to prosodic information that presumably disambiguated them in spoken language, the two patterns cannot be told apart on the basis of linear word order only. The fact that preverbal subjects are quite naturally associated with a topic-like aboutness reading makes the two even harder to distinguish (on problems associated with deriving information structure from linear order, see also Danckaert 2012: 14–18).

  33. 33

    Examples retrieved through a Google search, 11 April 2012.

  34. 34

    This needs the qualification that ‘new information’ is not to be understood as ‘brand new information’: for instance, Democritus has already been mentioned several times before the proposition in (57) is added to the discourse.

  35. 35

    On this example see also Rosén (2009: 335).

  36. 36

    See Grossmann (1880: 88–96) for many more examples.

  37. 37

    From the adjective certus, two adverbs are derived: certo and certe. The first is related to plain factuality, while the second one involves a subjective evaluation by the speaker. The Oxford Latin Dictionary glosses certe with ‘without any doubt (in the mind of the speaker).’ Therefore, only certe can be considered a genuine epistemic adverb. Examples of (e)quidem in combination with certo can also be found (e.g. Plaut. Amph. 447).

  38. 38

    The fact that (78) is a translation from Greek (viz. Dem. 18.179: οὐκ inline image μὲν inline image, οὐκ ἔγραψα δέ …) is orthogonal to the point at issue. I do not share Solodow's (1978: 31) view that quidem corresponds to μέν in the Greek original. In the relevant passage from Demosthenes, μέν obviously forms a diptych with δέ and not with οὐκ in the second conjunct. There seems to have been no lexicalized marker of affirmative polarity in Ancient Greek, so no overt element in the first conjunct is contrasted with the negation. Under my analysis of quidem, Quintilian did not insert this particle in his Latin text to literally translate any Greek word.

  39. 39

    The corrected text is based on marginal glosses in the text of the fourth-century grammarian Diomedes (see GLK I: 448).

  40. 40

    However, as is argued in detail in section 5.3, quidem is not merely the affirmative counterpart of non; rather, it is an emphatic or focal affirmative particle.

  41. 41

    Suffice it to say that the second conjunct is reduced in size through a process of ellipsis, and that the constituent in the second conjunct presumably is a left-peripheral focus.

  42. 42

    Modal adverbs are also found in the epitaxis configuration (cf. sane and utique), but given the discussion in section 4.1, this observation is not a counterargument for my claim that quidem is a polarity marker.

  43. 43

    The latter structure is exceptional in that most modern European languages do not have a lexical item that encodes affirmative polarity (of any kind). Julien (2002: 92 fn. 2): ‘Concerning polarity heads in particular it is interesting to note that whereas the languages of Europe generally lack the affirmative counterpart of the negation, Dutch has developed the affirmative marker wel’.

  44. 44

    See Grossmann (1884) for further discussion of nequidem.

  45. 45

    Example (i) shows that the focalized constituent can be an entire clause. However, this does not mean that nequidem can be considered a propositional operator on a par with bare quidem. Crucially, nequidem can only scope over an embedded clause. If it does so, it always induces narrow focus on the entire embedded clause (including the conjunction): it can never operate over the proposition expressed inside the embedded clause, as does (clitic) -quidem in examples like (15) and (21), and weak quidem in cases like (13) and (38).

    (i)[…] ne si dubitetur quidem […].
    ‘not even if the matter were in doubt’ (Cic. Ver. act. sec. 5.11)
  46. 46

    Most often, but by no means always, the focal constituent sits between ne and quidem.

  47. 47

    For more complete discussion of the syntax and interpretation of (various kinds of) emphatic polarity, see among others Höhle (1992), Laka (1994) and Holmberg (2001, 2007).

  48. 48

    See Hetland (1992a,b) and Lohnstein & Stommel (2005) for further discussion of the phenomenon of verum focus.

  49. 49

    On different functions of auxiliary focus, see Hyman & Watters (1984). Observe that (91b) also shows that the proposition that the verum operator can take a proposition with negative polarity as its argument.

  50. 50

    However, as we saw in section 1.2, Solodow does not consider this aspect of the meaning of quidem to be central.

  51. 51

    As I argue above, the very co-occurrence of quidem with these modal adverbials shows us that quidem itself is not a modal particle, but this is not to say that the two cannot both be members of a larger family of affirmative expressions.

  52. 52

    There are of course exceptions to this generalization: however, cases of asymmetric co-ordination known to me always involve a mismatch qua size (e.g. a full clause co-ordinated with a reduced clause (i.e. a clause that lacks (some) functional superstructure). I know of no cases where a full clause can be co-ordinated to single noun phrase.

  53. 53

    Note that at first sight, the fact that quidem can appear at the right edge of a clause (that is, in archaic Latin; cf. section 2.2.2, fn. 14) seems to contradict the claim that quidem has its base position in the clausal left periphery. However, clause-final discourse particles, weak/clitic adverbs or polarity markers are cross-linguistically far from uncommon. In the syntactic literature, it is often proposed that this pattern can be derived by fronting (almost) the entire clause to the left of the left-peripheral particle(s), thus preserving the unique left-peripheral base position for these elements. For some explicit proposals along these lines, see Poletto (2008) and Haegeman (2010).

  54. 54

    On the importance of taking into account prosodic factors in studying the placement of weak and clitic elements in Latin, see also Janse (1997) and Devine & Stephens (2006).

  55. 55

    I will not try to offer an exact characterization of this prosodic unit, but presumably, it is either a ‘phonological word’ or a ‘clitic group’, two of the lower levels from the prosodic hierarchy proposed by Nespor & Vogel (2007).

  56. 56

    On the lack of interpuncts between a preposition and its complement, see Adams (1996). On the question of whether Latin prepositions and their complements form phonological words or clitic groups, see Fortson (2008: 126–7).

  57. 57

    Compare the notion of ‘intonational phrase’ from Nespor & Vogel (2007). On clitics in the second position of prosodic units, see Bošković (2001).

  58. 58

    The discourse-neutral word order would probably have been hoc consilium uanum est, with the subject to the left of the adjectival predicate.

  59. 59

    See section 3 for a refutation of the view that the variation in these minimal pairs is to be explained in terms of the constituent focus inducing particle quidem having a different scope in the two examples. It was among other things argued that an element like et in (108b) is not something that qualifies as a likely focus, and by this token not as an element that can be modified by a focus particle (which in this case would be quidem).

  60. 60

    In the case of (106), this is less clear: ut being a conjunction, it might in principle be able to host the clitic adverb.

  61. 61

    Note that if this line of reasoning is correct and if indeed clitic -quidem and weak quidem were both present but hard to distinguish in Classical Latin, it is possible that some of the examples discussed earlier contain clitic -quidem rather than quidem.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Introduction: earlier treatments of quidem
  4. 2. Morphosyntactic properties of quidem
  5. 3. On the syntactic scope of quidem
  6. 4. quidem as a marker of affirmative polarity
  7. 5. Affirmative polarity + focus = verum focus
  8. 6. quidem in noun phrases
  9. 7. Final notes on equidem and -quidem
  10. 8. Conclusion and directions for future research
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