I have come across this word a few times in more later Latin texts. Would this word be merely synonymous with 'num' and 'quid' or is there a different shade of meaning that can be explained through a literal, etymological way?

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I am unsure of the answer to this question, but have come across this word twice in working through Learning Latin the Ancient Way: Latin Textbooks from the Ancient World by Eleanor Dickey. The book has a lot of non-standard Latin, perhaps because the texts have been reworked in ancient and medieval times for various purposes or perhaps the language represents the actual "flawed" speech of real Latin speakers as opposed to the learned speech we usually see recorded in literary texts. I have found the book interesting, especially for discussing situations of daily life not usually covered in other works.

On page 27, Dickey has a text with Latin in one column and English in another translated from the original Greek. It is not clear to me if the original text was meant to teach Latin to Greek speakers or the reverse, or both. She describes a scene where a customer wants to borrow from a banker and says (with a footnote omitted by me):

"The passage comes from the Colloquia Monacensia-Einsidlensia; note the use of numquid for num.


quid imperasti?"----------------------------------------what did you order?"

"Numquid habes----------------------------------------"Do you perhaps have

pecuniam------------------------------------------------any money


Despite what the dictionaries say about num being used in direct questions expecting a negative answer, I presume its use here is licensed to express politeness and modesty. I guess that the addition of quid is some adverbial use meaning "to some extent" as a discourse softener. Dickey's translation seems plausible. It could also be "Might you perhaps...," which readily accommodates a negative answer, even though the speaker wishes for a positive answer.

On pages 46-47, Dickey has another passage, this time discussing a visit to the baths. She says:

Note also the indirect questions using si and the indicative, non-deponent use of luctor, non-standard use of cases for time expressions and with in, non scio for nescio, numquid for num....

[omitted dialog in both languages]

Hinc vis per porticum,-------"Do you want (to go) from here through the portico

propter lumen?----------------on account of the light?

Numquid vis venire------------Do you perhaps want to come

ad secessum?"-----------------to the toilet?"

"Bene me admonuisti,----------"you reminded me well;

venter me cogit---------------"my belly compels me (to go).

eamus iam."--------------------Let's go now."

The use of numquid here seems to be the same as before, a way of making a polite inquiry that appears to readily acommodate a negative answer, but which is in fact neutral.

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    The neutrality of numquid is asserted by Rolando Ferri, "Politeness in Roman Comedy": "Num is frequently used in politeness contexts, not as a rhetorical interrogative, suggesting a negative answer, but as a dubious, open-answer particle, best translated with «perhaps, by any chance»." Jan 29 at 15:43

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