So why quandoquidem and what does it mean?

I imagine that by now almost every simple Latin word has been used as a web domain name. At my Scottish school, we were drilled in Latin. Our Rector, who was an international rugby referee in his spare time (for which he was given the OBE), was also a classics scholar – so rugby and Latin were compulsory. I managed to get out of rugby – which required getting muddy and usually with some bumps and bruises – but studied Latin for six years in the good old days when exams required translation in both directions at O-level.

Luckily, quandoquidem was still available as a domain name, despite the word being used in many instances as a user name for various boards etc. I like to think that there are some very educated people out there, but have a sneaking suspicion that they all use the big yellow Latin user names for Dummies as a reference.

The word has a particular resonance with me. I remember it from a beautiful poem by Catullus (Carmen 101) which he addresses to the ashes of his dead elder brother, who died prematurely. Many readers will know the famous end of the poem, ave atque vale, ‘hail and farewell’.  [For the poem and other examples of the use of quandoquidem, click here].

quandōquidem (Latin) conjunction / ‘ kwændo kwɪdəm / [1]

1 since, since indeed
2 seeing that
3 because

As explained by José Baños [2] there are subtle differences in the way quoniam, quando and quandoquidem were used to denote causality.

The use of quando was similar to that of quoniam – ie, ‘since’. However, from its original sense of ‘at which time’, ‘when’, quando has greater temporal and causal semantic ambivalence than quoniam and its causal use seems to have been more restricted than that of quoniam. The causal sense of quando is more explicit in the compound form quandoquidem as the second particle strengthens the assertive and factual character of the subordinate clause.

‘Since’ or ‘seeing that’ denote some form of explanation. However, I like to think of quandoquidem as realization not just explanation. It goes with a sense of understanding and getting the picture.

In using this word for my blog name, I hope that shall show some realization and understanding as well as getting to a point of being able to explain.



[1] For a wonderfully abstract discussion of the pronunciation of quandoquidem, see W.W. Baker, ‘Quandō-Quidem or Quandŏ-Quidem’, The Classical Review 17 (1903) pp.313-316

[2] J. M.l Baños, ‘Causal clauses’ in P. Baldi and P. Cuzzolin (eds.) Complex Sentences, Grammaticalization,Typology, (Berlin, 2011), p.210



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