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La pragmatique

On so-called adversative nisi

À propos de nisi appelé “adversatif”
Giovanbattista Galdi
p. 181-190

Abstracts

This paper is concerned with certain semantic and pragmatic properties of the Latin connector nisi. The discussion is structured in three sections. The first gives a short introduction of the main functions of nisi identified in the scholarship on the topic. The second offers a diachronic overview of its uses, based on selected literary sources, from Plautus up to Late Latin. The third focuses specifically on the adversative value of the conjunction. Here I show, among other things, the existence of two different types of adversativity which can be traced back to the two standard functions of nisi. The main results are summarized in a concluding paragraph.

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1. The standard value of nisi

  • 1 See particularly Orlandini, 2001, p. 151-292; 2002.

1Recent studies have shown the existence of two distinct semantic and pragmatic uses of the conjunction in early and (post)classical times.1

2(A) On the one hand, nisi, always accompanied by a grammatically or rhetorically negative phrase q, displays an exclusive-restrictive function. This use is characterized by the close link between q and p, which constitute a syntactic and semantic unity corresponding to a restrictive assertion: “only p”, “nothing else than p”. Nisi mostly (but not necessarily) follows q and is accompanied by a noun phrase (NP) or by a clause (ut, quod, quia, etc.):

(1)

Nihil dicam nisi singulare, nisi id quod, si in alium reum diceretur, incredibile videretur. (Cic. Verr. 2, 1, 44)
‘I will say nothing except what is extraordinary, nothing except what would appear incredible, if it were alleged against any other criminal.’

3(B) On the other hand, there appears a limitative-exceptive use, by which p restricts or nullifies the validity of q, thus, “unless p”, “except (if) p”, etc. The q-phrase is generally affirmative, but it may be negative. Orlandini (2001, p. 164-184) distinguishes three contexts of use:

  • 2 In this case, one generally finds a universal quantifier, as in (2), or a pronoun expressing a larg (...)

(a) nisi followed by a NP2 or by quod limits the validity of q by introducing an exception (2);

(2)

Fores occlusae omnibus sint nisi tibi. (Plaut. Asin. 759)
‘Her doors must be closed to everybody but you.’

(b) nisi, alone or followed by cum, si, forte or vero, refers to the only one case in which q loses its validity (3);

(3)

<Heu>s senex, quid tu percontare, ad te quod nihil attinet? – <Nihi>l ad me attinet? – Nisi forte factu’s praefectus novos. (Plaut. Most. 940f)
‘Hey, you old man! Why do you ask questions about what is none of your business? – None of my business? – Unless you chance to be a newly elected prefect.’

(c) nisi (or typically nī) accompanied by the subjunctive imperfect or pluperfect hinders the realization of the matrix phrase, which is presented as nearly accomplished (4).

(4)

Pons Sublicius iter paene hostibus dedit, ni unus vir fuisset, Horatius Cocles. (Liv. 2, 10, 2)
‘The Sublicius bridge almost gave the enemy an entrance (into the city), had it not been for one man, Horatius Cocles.’

4Despite their differences, (a), (b) and (c) are linked by a pause or break between q and p whose connection is, at the semantic and pragmatic level, much looser than in (A).

2. Diachronic overview

  • 3 Cf. Kühner-Stegmann, 1914, p. 417, and Hofmann-Szantyr, 1972, p. 667.

5As early as the 3rd c. BC nisi already features all properties listed above and it has even undergone a partial semantic bleaching, for it can be followed by si.3 Furthermore, Plautus’ comedies may exhibit some apparently anomalous uses, many of which are explainable by ellipsis (for the adversative instances, see below 3.1), e.g.:

(5)

Cave tu nisi quod te rogo. (Plaut. Truc. 801)
‘Take you care (= don’t say anything), unless I ask you anything.’

  • 4 This is the full list of the analysed texts: Plaut. (all comedies), Ter. (all comedies), Cic. Verr. (...)

6In order to establish how the use of the conjunction evolves over the centuries, we have analysed a large selection of texts, from Plautus up to Late Latinity, belonging to various literary genres. For the classical period, which has been extensively studied by Orlandini (2001; 2002), the analysis has been restricted to Cicero (Verr., Fam.) and Petronius.4 In addition, we have reviewed all curse tablets edited by Kropp (2008) along with a large number of inscriptions published on Clauss’ website (www. manfredclauss.de). Two major outcomes emerge from this research.

  • 5 Bonnet, for instance (1890, p. 321), referring to Gregory of Tours, observes: Nisi n’est point disp (...)
  • 6 The only traces of nisi are found in Old Portuguese nego / nega (‘except’, ‘otherwise’), resulting (...)

7First, nisi is widely attested in Latin, from the archaic period until late antiquity. In all sources considered it occurs several times and one barely finds a text where it is not represented.5 Furthermore, although the word does not survive in Romance,6 its frequent appearance on inscriptions and tablets of the late period suggests that it remained common in spoken use for a long time.

8Second, in postclassical and especially late sources nisi is far more frequently accompanied by a negative q. Thus, between the two functions outlined above, (A) clearly prevails. Compare the figures (neg. = negative) in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Analysed literary sources

3rd/2nd c. BC

1st c. BC

1st c.

3rd c.

4th c.

Plaut.

Ter.

Cic.

Petron.

Cypr.

Comm.

Peregr. Aeth.

Eutr.

Chiron.

q neg.

179

50.1%

49

59%

198

74%

36

76%

87

93%

15

100%

21

95%

10

77%

27

87%

q non

neg.

172

49.9%

34

41%

71

26%

11

24%

6

7%

0

0%

1

5%

3

23%

4

13%

Table 2: Analysed literary sources

5th c.

6th c.

Oros.

Vict.

Vit.

Paul.

Nol.

Hist. Aug.

Pomp.

Bened.

Greg. T.

Cassiod.

Greg. M.

q neg.

47

63%

26

90%

101

86%

101

72%

168

97%

24

86%

99

80%

102

89%

49

91%

q non

neg.

27

37%

3

10%

17

14%

40

28%

5

3%

4

14%

24

20%

12

11%

5

9%

  • 7 See also Orlandini, 2001, p. 168f.

9In Plautus, the instances with negative or non-negative q are equivalent, whereas in Terence the former slightly prevail. In Cicero and in Petronius, nisi is more frequently accompanied by a negative q, but in one fourth of the instances this is not the case. Furthermore, the choice of a negative q does not necessarily imply the exclusive function of nisi illustrated under (A), because in a number of cases the pragmatic-semantic link between the two sentences is loose (6).7

(6)

Non dubiumst quin mi magnum ex hac re sit malum; nisi, quia necessu’ fuit hoc facere, id gaudeo, propter me hisce aliquid esse eventurum mali. (Ter. Eun. 997-9)
‘There’s no doubt that this thing will cause me a big punishment; except (the fact) that, since I had to do that, I’m glad that some trouble is going to fall on these women because of me!’

10Very different is the picture emerging from late sources. In the great majority of cases, nisi is accompanied in at least 85% of the instances by a negative q, and in Commodianus (whose figures, though, are admittedly low) this is the only type attested. Three exceptions are found in Eutropius (who also has very low figures), the Historia Augusta and Orosius where the imitation of classical prose may have played a fundamental role. Additionally, in later authors, the link between q and p tends to be much stronger than in earlier centuries. Instances as (2)-(4) become rare because in many instances with positive q, nisi is followed by the subjunctive and displays a pure hypothetical force. Its function tends hence to overlap with that of si non. In (7), for instance, one cannot speak of two autonomous speech acts separated by a pause, because q expresses the potential consequences of the conditions uttered in p.

(7)

Nisi tibi pro arbitrio tuo serviatur, nisi ad voluntatis obsequium pareatur, inperiosus et nimius servitutis exactor flagellas, verberas. (Cypr. Demetr. 5)
‘If you are not served by him according to your pleasure, if you are not obeyed by him in conformity to your will, you, being an imperious and excessive exactor of his service, flog and scourge him.’

11The partial fossilization of nisi to its exclusive meaning in the late period plays, as we shall see, a crucial role in the development of the substitutive function, which barely emerges before the 3rd c. AD (cf. 3.2).

3. The adversative uses of nisi

  • 8 See particularly Englund, 1934, p. 50-6, and Löfstedt, 1936, p. 29-35.
  • 9 For an overview of the different adversative relations (most of which may be expressed by sed), see (...)

12The existence of an adversative or contrastive function of nisi is mentioned in several studies. Kühner and Stegmann (1914, p. 415f) observe that in colloquial language “einschränkendenisi, roughly corresponding to (B), often develops an adversative meaning, while Hofmann and Szantyr (1972, p. 668f) claim that this use – which again is related to “Umgangssprache” – results from blurred formulation and thought contamination. These and other scholars8 collect a number of passages, from Plautus up to Late Latin, in which nisi is said to replace sed. The problem, however, is that sed itself displays different semantic and pragmatic properties.9 From our investigation it turned out that the adversative instances collected in scholarly literature can be divided into two types. We will refer to them as adversative nisi 1 and 2. However, as it will be shown, only in the second type a clear contrast emerges between q and p.

3. 1. Adversative nisi 1

  • 10 Due to their close similarity, it is often difficult (and probably pointless) to draw a border betw (...)
  • 11 For various examples, cf. Lindskog, 1895, p. 129-40.

13This function very much resembles the one described under (B), because the semantic and pragmatic relation between q and p is rather loose – cf. (8) to (12) below.10 Here nisi generally follows q and shifts the focus to a new element, which is not in explicit contrast with the preceding one. Nearly all instances involve a verb phrase and seem to derive from the originally exclusive pattern nihil scio or nescio, nisi hoc (scio), ‘I know nothing (or I do not know) if I don’t know this’, implying ‘I only know this’ (e.g. Plaut. Bacch. 587f). Starting from here, analogous expressions developed, which contributed to a gradual syntactic autonomy of the nisi-phrase.11 A shift seems, hence, to have occurred from the (A)-type to the (B)-type. The first and most important step for ‘releasing’ the nisi-clause from q was the addition of an indirect question depending on nescio (8).

(8)

Huic alterae quae patria sit, profecto nescio: nisi scio probiorem hanc esse quam te. (Plaut. Rud. 750f)
‘As for this other girl, I don’t know which her birthplace is: except that/but I do know she is better than you.’

14Further variations that may occur are (a) the choice of a construction similar to nescio, nisi hoc (scio), such as nescio, nisi, ut opinor (9), (b) the replacement of scio (in q and/or in p) by nearly synonymic expressions (10), or its complete deletion in p, which probably represents the furthest step in the evolution (11):

(9)

Cistellam, ubi ea sit, nescio, nisi, ut opinor, loca haec circiter excidit mihi. (Plaut. Cist. 676f)
‘Where the little casket is, I don’t know, except that/but, as I believe, I dropped it somewhere here around.’

(10)

De re nihil possum iudicare, nisi illud mihi persuadeo, te, talem virum, nihil temere fecisse. (Cic. Fam. 13, 72, 3)
‘I cannot say anything about that, except that/but I am persuaded that such a man as you are has done nothing without the due consideration.’

(11)

Nec qui hoc mi eveniat scio; nisi pol filium multimodis iam exspecto, ut redeat domum. (Ter. Hec. 279f)
‘I don’t know how this is happening to me; except that/but I really hope that my son will return home!’

15Despite their differences, the variations exemplified in (8) to (11) share three common features:

  • the use of nescio or almost synonymic expressions in q, often also in p;

    • 12 There only are two exceptions, but in both of them the 1st person sing. is involved either directly (...)

    the systematic occurrence of the verb in the first person singular;12

  • the fact of shifting the attention from something unknown, and often unimportant, to something known and more central, which often is the only thing that really matters to the speaker or writer.

  • 13 For some examples, see Orlandini and Poccetti, 2008, p. 189-91. On concessive adversativity, see al (...)

16Apart from the nescio nisi (scio) type, mostly found in ancient comedy, this type of adversativity occasionally surfaces in other contexts generally displaying a concessive type of adversativity and all characterized by a high degree of autonomy of p towards q.13 In imperial and late Latin this use becomes very rare and tends to disappear, which is perfectly in agreement with the evolution outlined in the two tables. Since nisi is predominantly accompanied by a negative q that reduces, at a great extent, its syntactic autonomy, it is predictable that this special use, which, as seen, generally presupposes a double movement between q and p, tends to be dismissed.

3. 2. Adversative nisi 2

  • 14 On this type of adversativity, see Kroon, 1995, p. 211; 216. The development of negative conditiona (...)

17There is a second type of adversativity that is commonly confused with the above discussed but is semantically very different. Here nisi displays the so-called function of substitution, by which it overtly opposes a (mostly noun) phrase to a preceding one, as in (12) and (13).14 This is the standard meaning of Ger. sondern, Sp. sino, etc., which in Latin is usually expressed by sed:

(12)

Cedet dolor omnis a corpore […] nec erit anxietas ulla nisi gaudia semper. (Comm. Apol. 801f)
‘All pain will leave the body […] there will not be any anguish, but only joy.’

(13)

Non edetis de eis (sc. carnibus) crudam, neque coctam in aqua, nisi assatam igni. (Cypr. testim. 2, 15)
‘You shall not eat of them raw nor dressed in water, but roasted with fire.’

18Unlike adversative nisi 1, this special function probably derives from the exclusive-restrictive one – hence, (A) – because:

    • 15 See note 2.

    it typically occurs with noun phrases, which, conversely, are rare with (B);15

  • it requires a negative marker in q;

  • q is semantically incomplete without nisi;

  • it first spreads in Late Latin, when the exclusive-restrictive function becomes dominant.

19Characteristic of ‘substitutive’ nisi is the sharp contrast between two mutually exclusive phrases, of which the one introduced by nisi (that systematically follows), does not semantically belong or cannot be traced back to the former. The existence of two mutually exclusive phrases makes examples like (12) and (13) essentially different from examples of the standard (A)-type, such as (14) and (15):

(14)

ne quis Romae deus nisi Heliogabalus coleretur. (Hist. Aug. Heliog. 3, 4)
‘… (purposing that) no god be worshipped at Rome save only Elagabalus.’

(15)

Nullum […] eis tegumen remanserat nisi parmae tantum. (Greg. T. Franc. 3, 28)
‘No […] covering was left to them except only for the shields.’

20In (14) nisi performs its exclusive function because Helagabalus is considered to be a god, in fact the only god who may be worshipped. Similarly, in (15) the shields are the only type of protection left over. Conversely, in (12) nisi is substitutive, because gaudia is obviously not a form or type of anxietas and in (13) the three options (crudam, coctam in aqua, assatam igni) exclude each other.

21According to common view, this special value of nisi goes back to archaic Latin, occasionally emerges in (post)classical times and then spreads in the late period. Our investigation points to different conclusions. From Old Latin, only two instances are known, both in Plautus, where, as seen above, some special uses of nisi may emerge. The interpretation of the two passages, however, is far from clear:

(16)

Nunc mores nihili faciunt quod licet, nisi quod lubet. (Plaut. Trin. 1032)
‘Nowadays, (men’s) manners deem not worthy what is allowed, save only/but what is pleasant.’

(17)

Neque ego hanc superbiai causa pepuli ad meretricium quaestum, nisi ut ne esurirem. (Plaut. Cist. 40f)
‘I didn’t drive her into prostitution out of vanity, only/but in order not to starve.’

  • 16 Cf. Lewis and Short, 1958, p. 1209 (s. v., n. 5). A similar instance is found in Ter. Haut. 643.

22In (16), nisi is likely to perform its standard restrictive function, considering that quod lubet is not necessarily exclusive with quod licet but may well be a subset of it.16 Different is (17), where an antithesis emerges between the two final expressions superbiai causa and ut ne esurirem. The substitutive function may hence not be ruled out (see also OLD, s. v. nisi, 5b). However, one can also assume a conflation of (a) neque hanc superbiai causa pepuli (‘I didn’t drive her into prostitution out of vanity’) and (b) neque pepuli nisi ut ne esurirem (‘I have only driven her in order not to starve’), or a sort of ‘surplus’ of information in q, that is, the redundant insertion of superbiai causa. Both solutions find support in at least two further Plautine passages in (18) and (19).

(18)

(Sc. collyrae) nihili sunt crudae, nisi quas madidas gluttias. (Plaut. Pers. 94)
‘(Macaroni) are no good raw, (save) only those that you gulp down well boiled.’

(19)

Nisi de opinione certum nil dico tibi. (Plaut. Rud. 1092)
‘This is only my opinion, I am not telling you anything for certain.’

23In both examples we may assume, again, either conflation – (a) nihili sunt crudae / (b) nihili sunt nisi (eae), quas, etc. (a) nisi de opinione nil dico / (b) certum nil dico – or a redundant insertion of a nominal element in q (crudae and certum, respectively). Particularly instructive is the comparison between (17) and (19): if, in the latter, q would be postponed, one could speak also here of substitutive nisi (‘not for certain, but according to my opinion’), but this explanation is ruled out by the word order.

24After Plautus, the construction is allegedly found in Quintilian and Pseudo-Quintilian, but these instances are even more questionable:

(20)

Quis potius leges exequetur et hominum commissa, nisi qui rem publicam administrat? Nemo istud faceret libenter, nisi necessitate. (Quint. Decl. 314, 4)
‘Who else will apply the laws and punish men’s crimes other than the person who manages the commonwealth? No one would do it willingly, but out of necessity.’

(21)

In qua (sc. caede) nemo utitur suo ferro nisi alieno. (Ps. Quint. Decl. 1, 4)
‘In which (murder) nobody uses its own sword, but that belonging to somebody else.’

(22)

Congesta sunt adversus miseram caecitatem venenum, cruor, ferrum et quidquid non potest esse neglegentiae nisi nescientis. (Quint. Decl. 2, 2)
‘Amassed against this poor, handicapped man are a sword, blood, poison, and whatever else which cannot be attributed to the carelessness of anybody except a moron.’ (tr. Sussman)

  • 17 This explanation, put forward by Englund, 1934, p. 54f, is based on the problematic assumption that (...)

25In (20) Shackleton Bailey (2006, p. 18) does not trust the transmitted text and adds <nemo> before nisi. This interpretation finds a support in the preceding sentence where nisi is also used with restrictive force (quis…, nisi qui). In (21) the text is certainly corrupt, because, as observed by Håkanson (1974, p. 18f), a lawyer could barely claim that no murderer uses his own sword to kill (in fact, this is generally the case). Finally, in (22) there is no need to assume the substitutive function,17 as it becomes evident from Sussman’s translation.

  • 18 See also Vitr. 1, 5, 6; 2, 6, 3; 6 praef. 3; 10, 11, 1.

26There are, however, five certain instances of the construction in Vitruvius not mentioned in literature, as in (23).18

(23)

In ea (sc. loca) non est potestas omnibus intro eundi nisi invitatis. (Vitr. 6, 5, 1)
‘Into those (places) not everybody has the right to enter, except/but only the invited ones.’

27These passages all display the same schema, by which nisi reduces to a single unit or subset the quantity expressed by omnis (always found in the plural). There appears hence a contrast between two mutually exclusive items (‘not all, but’). However, this use of nisi is very likely to result from a mingle between the exceptive type illustrated at (B) omnes… nisi x ‘everybody… but x’ – cf. (2) – and the exclusive one of (A) non… nisi x ‘not… except for x’ → ‘only x’, as in (1). For, on the one hand, we have the subtraction of one or more elements from a larger set, which is characteristic of (B), but, on the other hand, the double negation hints at a restrictive assertion, as in (A). Interestingly, in another passage Vitruvius (10, 8, 5) employs the same pattern with praetor: non est facilis ratio neque omnibus expedita ad intellegendum praeter eos, qui, etc.

  • 19 I also found an example on a curse tablet from Bath (Kropp, 2008, 3.2/37).
  • 20 For some examples, see Löfstedt, 1936, p. 33-5. Note that this use, as the substitutive one, is onl (...)
  • 21 We collected 30 “pure” examples (that is, not explainable by contamination), of which 21 go back to (...)
  • 22 These figures do not include the Vitruvian instances, which, as seen, may be due to contamination.

28In later literary Latin, especially since the 4th c., there are several instances of substitutive nisi.19 This fact is also related to a partial syntactic extension of the conjunction that occasionally is even found in lieu of quam after comparatives.20 This is not the place to go over all late instances of substitutive nisi. However, one gets the impression that, at least until the 6th c., this use was not grammaticalized in the language and should rather be considered as a sporadic “deviation”. This conclusion is based on the low number of examples with respect to the entire Late Latin production21 and on the probable influence of the Greek bible, in which ἐὰν μη is often found with the same value (cf. Löfstedt, 1936, p. 31f). Revealing is the fact that all literary instances but one (Vindic. Epist. ad Valent. 7) occur in Christian sources,22 which suggest that this use tends to become a sort of technical feature of Christian language. Additionally, sed regularly performs its substitutive function until the end of Latinity and nisi, even when displaying contrastive force, never seems to loose entirely its exclusive meaning. A case in point is found in Jerome:

(24)

Dicit: ‘Expectate hic tribus diebus.’ Non erat una dies, non duo, nisi tres dies. Videte quid dicat: ‘Expectate tribus diebus.’ Non nominat tres noctes, sed tres dies. (Hier. In psalm. 86)
‘She says: “Wait here three days long.” It was not one day, not two, but three days. See what she says: “Wait three days long.” She does not mention three nights, but three days.’

29One observes here a sort of reverse pattern as compared to the Vitruvian instances. On the one hand, nisi is, as in Vitruvius, semantically very closely related to the preceding negative q, both referring to numbers, but it denotes, on the other hand, a higher set as compared to q (tres comprises una and duo). The underlying thought responsible for the use of nisi may be something like ‘one or two days were not enough unless (until) they reached (became) three’. Interestingly, in the following sentence, in which again a substitutive pattern after negative q occurs but the semantic contrast between q and p is more clear-cut, Jerome resorts to the standard construction with sed (non nominat tres noctes, sed tres dies).

4. Conclusions

30Summing up, the uses of nisi traditionally labelled as “adversative” may be divided into two groups. In the first one (3.1), no strong contrast emerges between q and p. This use of nisi is very close to and often barely distinguishable from the limitative-exceptive one – cf. (B) – for it generally presupposes a pause between q and p and becomes very rare in imperial and late times, when exceptive nisi also tends to disappear. Most instances can be explained starting from the original pattern nihil scio or nescio, nisi (scio) and assuming a gradually higher autonomy of p. The second type is that of substitution, in which a clear-cut contrast appears between two mutually exclusive phrases (3.2). This function is likely to derive from the exclusive-restrictive one – cf. (A) – because (a) it is mostly found with noun phrases (which, conversely, are rare in (B)), (b) it requires a negative marker in q, (c) q is semantically incomplete without p and (d) it first spreads in Late Latin, when (A) strongly dominates. There is a view that this use has its roots in ancient comedy, occasionally surfaces in the Early Empire and then spreads in Late Latinity. We have shown that the first certain instances occur in Vitruvius, where nisi subtracts one or more units from a larger set denoted by omnis (non omnes, nisi) and one may easily assume a conflation between (A) non… nisi and (B) omnes… nisi. In later times, substitutive nisi becomes indeed more common, but given the relatively small number of instances, the influence of Greek and the fact that sed regularly performs this function, it seems very improbable that this use was grammaticalized in the language, not at least until the 6th century.

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Bibliography

Bonnet, M., 1890, Le latin de Grégoire de Tours, Paris.

Englund, Y., 1934, Ad Quintiliani quae feruntur declamationes maiores adnotationes, Uppsala.

Håkanson, L., 1974, Textkritische Studien zu den grösseren pseudoquintilianischen Deklamationen, Lund.

Hofmann, J. B. and Szantyr, A., 1972, Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik, Munich.

Kroon, C., 1995, Discourse particles in Latin. A study of nam, enim, autem, vero and at, Amsterdam.

Kropp, A., 2008, CD-rom attached to Magische Sprachverwendung in vulgärlateinischen Fluchtafeln (defixiones), Tübingen.

Kühner, R. and Stegmann, C., 1914, Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache. Satzlehre, vol. 2, Hannover.

Lewis, T. and Short, C., 1958, A New Latin Dictionary, New York / Oxford.

Lindskog, C., 1895, De enuntiatis apud Plautum et Terentium condicionalibus, Lund.

Löfstedt, E., 1936, Vermischte Studien zur lateinischen Sprachkunde und Syntax, Lund.

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Orlandini, A., 2001, Négation et argumentation en latin, Louvain-Paris.

Orlandini, A., 2002, Les emplois adverbiaux de nisi: une approche discursive, in L. Sawicki and D. Shalev (eds.), Donum Grammaticum. Studies in Latin and Celtic Linguistics in Honour of Hannah Rosén, Louvain/Paris, p. 277-286.

Orlandini, A. and Poccetti, P., 2008, Les relations sémantiques entre la coordination connective, adversative et disjonctive en latin et dans les langues de l’Italie ancienne, Papers on Grammar 10, p. 179-203.

Shackleton Bailey, D. R. (ed.), 2006, Quintilian. The Lesser Declamations, vol. 2, Harvard.

Sussman L. A., 1987, The Major Declamations Ascribed to Quintilian: A Translation, Frankfurt.

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Notes

1 See particularly Orlandini, 2001, p. 151-292; 2002.

2 In this case, one generally finds a universal quantifier, as in (2), or a pronoun expressing a large quantity (e.g. plerique). However, this use is quite rare: a search conducted on Brepol’s Library of Latin Texts revealed that in the whole period between the 3rd c. BC and the 3rd c. AD the pattern omnis (+ NP) + nisi only occurs 21 times.

3 Cf. Kühner-Stegmann, 1914, p. 417, and Hofmann-Szantyr, 1972, p. 667.

4 This is the full list of the analysed texts: Plaut. (all comedies), Ter. (all comedies), Cic. Verr., Fam., Petron., Cypr. Ad Donat., Testim., Hab. virg., Unit. eccl., Laps., Domin. orat., Mortal., Fort., Demetr., Eleem., Patient., Zel., Comm. Apol., Peregr. Aeth., Eutr. Brev., Chiron., Oros. Hist., Vict. Vit., Paul. Nol. Epist., Hist. Aug., Pomp., Cass. Var., Bened., Greg. T. Franc., Greg. M. Dial.

5 Bonnet, for instance (1890, p. 321), referring to Gregory of Tours, observes: Nisi n’est point disparu. Au contraire, il est d’un emploi plus étendu que dans la langue classique.

6 The only traces of nisi are found in Old Portuguese nego / nega (‘except’, ‘otherwise’), resulting from nisi quod / nisi quia. Cf. Hofmann-Szantyr, 1972, p. 578-88.

7 See also Orlandini, 2001, p. 168f.

8 See particularly Englund, 1934, p. 50-6, and Löfstedt, 1936, p. 29-35.

9 For an overview of the different adversative relations (most of which may be expressed by sed), see Kroon, 1995, p. 210-17.

10 Due to their close similarity, it is often difficult (and probably pointless) to draw a border between this function of nisi and the one outlined at (B).

11 For various examples, cf. Lindskog, 1895, p. 129-40.

12 There only are two exceptions, but in both of them the 1st person sing. is involved either directly (nescimus nos quidem istum, qui siet; nisi, Plaut. Poen. 649f) or indirectly (in Plaut. Most. 278 nescias is used impersonally).

13 For some examples, see Orlandini and Poccetti, 2008, p. 189-91. On concessive adversativity, see also Kroon, 1995, p. 211f. In some cases, the adversative relation is made more explicit by the addition of tamen. See particularly Orlandini, 2002, p. 284f.

14 On this type of adversativity, see Kroon, 1995, p. 211; 216. The development of negative conditionals (‘if not’) to substitutive conjunctions represents a well-known process, attested in a number of languages as in Sp. sino, Old Fr. se non, Late Gr. εἰ μή / ἐὰν μη (Löfstedt, 1936, p. 31-3).

15 See note 2.

16 Cf. Lewis and Short, 1958, p. 1209 (s. v., n. 5). A similar instance is found in Ter. Haut. 643.

17 This explanation, put forward by Englund, 1934, p. 54f, is based on the problematic assumption that neglegentiae is used instead of negligentis (abstractum pro concreto) and opposed to nescientis.

18 See also Vitr. 1, 5, 6; 2, 6, 3; 6 praef. 3; 10, 11, 1.

19 I also found an example on a curse tablet from Bath (Kropp, 2008, 3.2/37).

20 For some examples, see Löfstedt, 1936, p. 33-5. Note that this use, as the substitutive one, is only found after negative q.

21 We collected 30 “pure” examples (that is, not explainable by contamination), of which 21 go back to the 6th c. (14 in Gregory of Tours).

22 These figures do not include the Vitruvian instances, which, as seen, may be due to contamination.

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References

Bibliographical reference

Giovanbattista Galdi, « On so-called adversative nisi », Pallas, 102 | 2016, 181-190.

Electronic reference

Giovanbattista Galdi, « On so-called adversative nisi », Pallas [Online], 102 | 2016, Online since 20 December 2016, connection on 20 September 2017. URL : http://pallas.revues.org/3670 ; DOI : 10.4000/pallas.3670

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About the author

Giovanbattista Galdi

Professor of Latin Linguistics
University of Ghent
giovanbattista.galdi@ugent.be

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Pallas – Revue d'études antiques est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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