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Uses of Quod in Late and Medieval Latin Indirect Statement

Indirect Statement in Classical Latin

Latin indirect statements, both in Classical and Medieval incarnations, report on the actions of others. These statements rely on verbs of thinking, saying, feeling, or doing to convey relation to another's statement or action.

Classical indirect statement has been covered extensively elsewhere; nevertheless, let me provide the following example. Below, the indirect statement is marked off by a subject and direct object, both in the accusative, governed by a verb in the infinitive. This infinitive operates independently from the 'thinking, feeling, saying, doing' verb in the indicative.

Robertus dicit ut Corneliam Vanilla Ice in horto cantare.

Bob says Cornelia sings Vanilla Ice in the backyard.

Play let's pretend: I know that 'Vanilla Ice' is undeclined, but it's a foreign loan phrase in the accusative singular. Yes, yes, I also know that using loan words in such a manner constitutes bad grammar, but modern examples require distortions from time to time. The 'ut' is optional, and lends nothing to the indirect statement other than a signpost indicating that a different form of discourse will appear soon. For the most part, the 'dual accusative' indirect statement typifies Classical usage.

Indirect Statement in Late and Medieval Latin

In later periods, Latin developed discourse forms reflecting a grammatical shift towards less inflected language. One casualty of vulgar usage creeping into 'formal' Classical paradigms appeared with the use of quod indirect statements. 'Quod' forms simplified the Classical requirement to shift to a new mood when relaying the thoughts and actions of others. Instead of two accusatives and an infinitive, statements appear with 'quod' plus an indicative clause. This indicative clause constructs as usual, with a nominative subject and an accusative direct object. Taking upon the above Classical examples:


Robertus dicit ut Corneliam Vanilla Ice in horto cantare.

Bob says Cornelia sings Vanilla Ice in the backyard.


Robertus dicit quod Cornelia Vanilla Ice in horto cantat.

Bob says Cornelia sings Vanilla Ice in the backyard.

Again, play pretend that 'Vanilla Ice' is in the accusative. The later Latin 'quod' usage reflects our own English preference for word order to convey indirect discourse. The 'quod' usage above closely mirrors our own expression, i.e. the use of a hinge word 'that' to convey a shift between expressions. In Classical Latin, the 'ut' conveys little more than stylistic and convenient meaning, with all grammatical force contained within the infinitive construction.

'Quod' indirect statements prove useful in conversational Latin so far as I don't have to think where to slam an infinitive in to make a sentence work. Be sure, though, that the person you are working with understands both constructions, as many consider Medieval Latin a corruption of the 'true' Classical tongue.

Quod (?), n. [For quad, abbrev. of quadrangle.]

A quadrangle or court, as of a prison; hence, a prison.


Flogged or whipped in quod. T. Hughes.


© Webster 1913.

Quod, v.

Quoth; said. See Quoth.


"Let be," quod he, "it shall not be." Chaucer.


© Webster 1913.

Quod (?), v. t.

To put in quod, or prison; to lock up; to jug.




© Webster 1913.

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