LINGUIST List 7.1259

Wed Sep 11 1996

Sum: Romance adverbs

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1., Re: Romance adverbs

Message 1: Re: Romance adverbs

Date: Mon, 09 Sep 1996 19:19:00 -0300
From: <>
Subject: Re: Romance adverbs
Summary of discussion of Romance Adverbs ending in -ment(e)

Here is my original question:

 All (I think) of the Romance languages have a common way of forming
 regular adverbs, based on the feminine form of the corresponding
 adjective followed by the suffix "ment(e)". This gives us
 "heureusement" (Fr), "rapidamente" (Sp, Pt, It), bojament (Catalan -
 "madly") and so on.

 I have also made the assumption that the origin of this is to be
 found in vulgar Latin, probably in the ablative form of a third
 declension feminine noun, giving the original sense of "in a happy
 (fast, mad) manner".

 However, I have never seen any proof of this assumption, nor have I
 been able to establish which Latin noun is involved. Could it be
 mens, mentis (ablative mente) "mind"? If so, the original sense
 would perhaps have been "in a happy frame of mind", "with a rapid
 disposition" etc., and would subsequently have been generalised to
 cover all adverbial meanings. ("The car went quickly down the
 motorway", and "fortunately it didn't collide with the bus" would
 not fit the restricted sense of "mind", yet both are completely
 normal in modern Romance languages).

 Can anybody help, either with the original expression, or with the
 process of generalisation?

 And while we're about it, what about the corresponding Germanic
 particles -ly (Eng), -lich (German) etc.? Do these also have their
 origin in a separate word?

I have received nearly 40 replies, from all over the world, and I wish
to thank everybody for their help in building up a fairly complete
picture. To my shame I must admit that I have been pointed to books I
had sitting on my own bookshelves.

The main conclusions are straightforward and non-controversial for the
specialists who replied.

1. The hypothesis is correct. Mente does indeed derive from Classical
Latin mens, "mind" and appears in ablative expressions such as devota
mente, "in a devout state of mind".

2. The modern -ment(e) is present in the major Romance languages
except Romanian (see Miguel Carrasquer Vidal below)

3. Modern Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese still reflect the two word
origin of the adverbs in phrases like franca y honestamente, with
-mente appearing only once. Old French, Occitan and Italian used to
have similar expressions. (Modern French still finds franchement et
honnetement a bit of a tonguefull and tends to prefer d'une facon
franche et honnete or some such equivalent).

4. One of the reasons I asked the question was that I had asked a
number of classically educated Spaniards and Catalans whether the
"mens" origin of their adverbs coincided with their intuition. All of
them replied that it did not, and that I must have got it wrong, which
just goes to show how far the original sense has shifted.

5. The experts on the list tell me that Germanic -ly, -lich comes from
Protogermanic l_k, "body", (modern German Leich, "corpse" and OE
lych-gat= e).

6. Non-specialist native speakers (Eng, Ger, Dutch, Swedish) coincide
in feeling that the origin is "like", ( similar) (manly man-like), so
my first reaction was that there was a conflict between fact and
intuition, until it was pointed out that "like" itself derives from
lic, "body" (> manly having a man's body) Older English suffixed
y-like (alike) and German g-leich, Dutch ge-lijk, "similar"
(cf. Goth. "sama-leiks", "of the same body" > "similar, alike").

7. The Germanic -ly (etc.) is really an adjectival suffix, which many
languages use with no inflection as an adverb (Old English added an
-e, but lost it later on). The need to add -ly as an adverbial marker
is quite modern (post-Shakespearian).

A quite unexpected conclusion of my enquiry is the delightful metaphor
for the cultural divide of Latin/Germanic in Europe; where one uses
"mind" the other has "body"!

There is not enough room for all the replies, but here is a
representative selection, in the order I received them:

Patrick C. Ryan wrote:

Dear Mr. Whiteley:

English -ly (kingly) and German -lich, forming adjectives which, when
uninflected in German, can be used as adverbs, and secondarily used to
form adverbs in English, is derived from IE 2. le/e:ig-. A full
reference can be found in Indogermanisches Etymologisches Woerterbuch,
I, 667, by Julius Pokorny.

Saw your posting on Linguist concerning Romance -mente. The standard
view is that it is indeed abl sg of mens (there's a good discussion in
Paul Hopper & lizabth Traugott, Grammaticalization, Cambridge
1993). This is a classic example (discussed around 1912 as I recall by
Meillet), of a lexical item grammaticalizing into an affix.

English -ly, G -lich, Du -lijk, etc. have the same kind of origin. The
base is cognate to E like, and has the original sense `body, image,
representation, something-like-X'. Thus E manly has a more transparent
equivalent in Gothic manna-leiks, etc.

The old `body' sense is still clear in G Leichnam `corpse', and
survives in a somewhat buried form in E lych-gate `gate through which
a corpse is brought into a church'. The original form is still fairly
clear in Old English: -lic (pron. like `leech'); the final consonant
dropped later, giving -ly. One further complication is that OE -lic
was adjectival, and took an extra endidng to form adverbs: -lic-e.
But the two collapsed in the end.

Hope this is of some use.

Yours, Roger Lass

Roger Lass
Department of Linguistics
University of Cape Town
Rondebosch 7700/South Africa
Tel +(021) 650 3138 Fax +(021) 650 3726

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Romance adverbs

have you looked at Meyer-Lubke, Grammaire des les langues romanes? A
very updated, although necessarily brief, account on the structural
evolution of Italian adverbs can be found in M.Maiden, A Linguistic
History of Italian, p.93ff. Best wishes, Cecilia Robustelli, Univ. of

- -----
 actually, there is a special issue of LEXIQUE1 (presses univ.
de lille) which is completetly dedicated to the adverb
(press. Univ. de Lille, 9, rue A.Angellier, 59000 LILLE;
tel. (20)30.85.85

let me know what you will end up with -mente (I recall also that there
is a paper by Zagona (or Zagoma?) where it is mantained that -X+mente
=3D compound (not a derivative) and I.Bosque (Univ. Autonoma de
Madrid), also maintained the some thing (but, you see this is -maybe-
because in Spanish you can factor out mente: e.g. (X y Y-mente: with
-mente delition in the first constituent). This is still true in
Spanish and Portoguese, not any more in Italian (it was possible in
old Italian, see Scalise, Morfologia Lessicale, Clesp, padova 1983)).

So, good luck... s.


 sergio scalise tel. +39-(0)532-293411
 facolta' di lettere fax. +39-(0)532-202689
 via savonarola 27 tel. +39-(0)532-293416 (operator)
 44100 ferrara tel. +39-(0)51-6446605 (home)
 italy e-m.

- -----
Elcock, in his book 'The Romance Languages', deals with Romance
adverbs in several different places. See for example page 145, where
he gives examples from as far back as Ovid and Quintilian. I don't
have time right now to confirm all of the following, but they would be
good places to look: (Since you are in Spain, I presume you read

Vaananen, Veiko (1967). Introduccion al latin vulgar. Gredos.
Garcia de Diego, Vicente (1961). Gramatica historica espanola. Gredos
Menedez Pidal, Ramon (1966). Manual de gramatica historica espanola.
=09Espasa Calpe
Lapesa, Rafael (1942). Historia de la lengua espanola. Escelicer.
Spaulding, Robert (1967). How Spanish Grew. University of Calif. Press
Bynon, Theodora (1977). Historical Linguistics. Cambridge Press.

I could mention a lot more, but this should get you started. If you need
more, let me know.

Ron Ross
Department of Linguistics
University of Costa Rica

- -----

From: (Esther Herrera)
Subject: mente

Hola, me intereso mucho tu inquietud sobre el mente. Personalmente no
voy a darte una respuesta definitiva, pero mira desde la fonologia
esas forma ciones se comportan como si fueran dos palabras
independientes: la adjuncion de -mente no modifica el acento primario
de su base. Estas for mas presentan un acento primario en -mente y una
secunndario en la base. Asimismo sintacticamente parece que pasa lo
mismo: tu puedes decir "franca y honestamente". Este comportamiento no
se aprecia en ingles con -ly pues este debe ir a=A4adido a cada
palabra. Por otro lado, tengo = a la mano una bibliografia : Saporta
1990, "the status of Spanish forms in -mente", Hispanic Linguistics
4:181-183. Espero te sirva. Me parece que e= s un tema que merece
investigacion y me gustaria que comentaras tus resulta= - dos en
Linguistic List. Esther.

- -----
From: ATP2PSUVM.PSU.EDU ("Ana Teresa Perez-Leroux")

Dear colleague,

In reference to your query on -mente adverbs, Rafael Nunnez-Cedenno in
an article on Spanish compounds, treats it as such. He based his
analysis on earlier work by Karen Zagona. I don't recall the Zagona
reference, and don't have it at hand, but Rafael's article is in a
volume by H. Campos and F. Martinez Gil, Current Issues in Spanish
Linguistics, Georgetown University Press, 1992. And yes, the noun
'mente' is the origin of the derivation. I am not a hi= storic al
linguist, but I have a feeling my HL colleagues treat that as a
standa= rd der ivation - bringing it up in issues of
grammaticalization, etc. Best regards, Ana

- -----

Hello, Colin!

According to T.Pyles and J. Algeo, *The Origins and Development of the
English Language,* our -ly suffix did indeed originate from a full
word, *lich,* 'body'. Presumably German -lich may be similarly
related to German Leiche, 'corpse,' (tho I don't know--I'm only
speculating that there's some parallel development). If your
etymology of -ment(e) is correct, this is a pretty stunning
contrast--body and mind!

Best wishes,


Susan Meredith Burt
During the academic year:
Department of English
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh WI 54901 USA

- -----

From: (miguel)
Subject: adverbs


>All (I think) of the Romance languages have a common way of forming
>regular adverbs, based on the feminine form of the corresponding
>adjective followed by the suffix "ment(e)". This gives us
>"heureusement" (Fr), "rapidamente" (Sp, Pt, It), bojament (Catalan -
>"madly") and so on.

Romanian lacks this suffix, and uses either the neuter [> masc.]
adjective adverbially: <frumos vorbi> "to talk beautifully",
<vorbi roma^nes,te> "to talk Romanian" (adj. roma^nesc).

>I have also made the assumption that the origin of this is to be found
>in vulgar Latin, probably in the ablative form of a third declension
>feminine noun, giving the original sense of "in a happy (fast, mad)
>However, I have never seen any proof of this assumption, nor have I
>been able to establish which Latin noun is involved. Could it be mens,
>mentis (ablative mente) "mind"?


This usage [in the literal sense of "in a ... mindset"] can be found
in Classical Latin:

(Catullus): "Obstinata mente perfer"
(Ovidius): "mente ferant placida"
(Vergilius): "sensit enim simulata mente locutam",

and gets more common in Late Latin.

>If so, the original sense would
>perhaps have been "in a happy frame of mind", "with a rapid
>disposition" etc., and would subsequently have been generalised to
>cover all adverbial meanings. ("The car went quickly down the
>motorway", and "fortunately it didn't collide with the bus" would not
>fit the restricted sense of "mind", yet both are completely normal in
>modern Romance languages).

In modern Romance, the original sense of "mind" has completely been
lost sight of. But the fact that it used to be a separate word can
still be deduced from such constructions as:

"sabia y discretamente" [sa`bia i discretament],

which were common in Old French, Occitan and Italian too (even in
reverse order: "Francamen e corteza").

[examples mostly from Bourciez "El. de Ling. Romane"]

>And while we're about it, what about the corresponding Germanic
>particles -ly (Eng), -lich (German) etc.? Do these also have their
>origin in a separate word?

Yes. But whereas Romance uses "mind", Germanic uses "body" :-)

The separate word survives in Dutch "lijk" and German "Leiche"
(both: "corpse") [OS, OF, ON, OE li:k, Goth leik (=3Dli:k), OHG li^h,
"body, corpse, flesh"]. English "like" (from y-like, Du. gelijk,
Germ. gleich), "alike" are derived from it (cf. Goth. "sama-leiks",
"of the same body" > "similar, alike").

- -----

From: (ricardo joseh lima)
Subject: Romance adverbs


 I read your message posted on LINGUIST list and have some
informations that I think may be useful to you:

* In Old Portguese (centuries XII-XVI) we had the constructions:
"parar mente", "observar mente" which mean 'pay attention to your
mind'=, be careful.

* Then it started to be extended to other contexts: "parar boa mente",
"ele fez isso de rapida mente" which mean respectively 'pay good mind'
and 'he made it in a "rapid state of mind"=3D thinking quickly.'

* The next step was to broad the number of adjectives and contexts of
use When it became a general aspect of the language, the expression
started to be used as a single word "rapidamente".

* The last 'chapter' of the history deals with the loss of the
comprehension of the original expression by the speakers. Nowadays
only linguists know that one day 'mente' was not a sufix, but a word,
etc. ...

Ricardo Lima
Rio - Brazil

- -----

Try looking at the CUP book _Grammaticalization_, by Traugott and
Hopper. I believe they deal with that very example in one part, and
give a convincing argument to substatiate it.

Keith Goeringer
UC Berkeley
Slavic Languages & Literatures

- -----

From: (Trey Jones)


I saw your post on the linguist list.. you are correct about the
romance adverbial suffix coming from "mind" (at least into
spanish).. in fact, since I'm working at home today, II even have a

Ralph Penny: _A History of the Spanish Language_ (get this book!) - p

"A genuine adverbial suffive (for adverbs of manner) was created in VL
from the noun MENS, MENTIS 'mind'. The Latin expressions concerned
were at first adverbial phrases in which the noun (in Ablative case)
was accompanied by an agreeing adjective: DEVOTA MENTE 'in a devout
frame of mind', i.e. 'devoutly'."

There is more, but that confirms your hunch.

Further, -ly, in english comes from OE "lic", body.. thus manly is
"having the body of a man".. Check out p264 (and others) of _The
Origins and Development of the English Language_ by Thomas Pyles and
John Algeo. I assume the development in german was similar..

wait.. actually, I have the following: "E. -ly, Ger. -lich is now a
mere suffix with barely perceptible meaning, but goes back back to a
noun, [Gothic] leik 'body'." from p 142 of _A Comparative Germanic
Grammar_ by E. Prokosch.


- -----

Following up my recent reply to your inquiry via the List re -mente
and -ly/-lich: I have just come across another non-reference somewhere
which says that -hood (as in statehood, manhood etc) comes from Old
English *had*, i.e. 'state, condition'. Thought this might interest

Torsten Leuschner, Freie Universitaet Berlin

Once again, thanks to all of you.

Colin Whiteley
Barcelona, Spain
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