This article investigates the Latin conditional clause si placet ‘if (it) pleases (you)’, also considering other functional equivalents such as, among others, si non piget ‘if (you) don’t mind’ and si tibi molestum/grave non est ‘if (it) doesn’t bother/annoy (you)’, which all function as polite modifiers of requests and proposals. It first provides a theoretical assessment of si placet and examines its pragmatic functions in the history of Latin. By considering its distribution across authors and genres, it then suggests patterns of use and argues for a case of contact-induced pragmaticalization. It is shown that the use of si placet as a conditional form expressing politeness is mostly attested in Cicero’s dialogues, which are largely inspired by Plato’s model, where similar forms such as ei boulei, ean boulei ‘if you please, if you like’ are often found in the very same contexts where si placet occurs in Cicero. It is therefore suggested that this correspondence may be interpreted as the outcome of a pragmatic calque within the relevant discourse tradition of philosophical dialogue, where genre-based conventions were probably replicated through literary imitation.

CONDITIONAL CLAUSES AS POLITE MODIFIERS IN LATIN: SI PLACET BETWEEN PRAGMATICALIZATION AND LANGUAGE CONTACT

fedriani
2021-01-01

Abstract

This article investigates the Latin conditional clause si placet ‘if (it) pleases (you)’, also considering other functional equivalents such as, among others, si non piget ‘if (you) don’t mind’ and si tibi molestum/grave non est ‘if (it) doesn’t bother/annoy (you)’, which all function as polite modifiers of requests and proposals. It first provides a theoretical assessment of si placet and examines its pragmatic functions in the history of Latin. By considering its distribution across authors and genres, it then suggests patterns of use and argues for a case of contact-induced pragmaticalization. It is shown that the use of si placet as a conditional form expressing politeness is mostly attested in Cicero’s dialogues, which are largely inspired by Plato’s model, where similar forms such as ei boulei, ean boulei ‘if you please, if you like’ are often found in the very same contexts where si placet occurs in Cicero. It is therefore suggested that this correspondence may be interpreted as the outcome of a pragmatic calque within the relevant discourse tradition of philosophical dialogue, where genre-based conventions were probably replicated through literary imitation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1063410
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