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The enclitic -que in the words neque and atque can be shortened to produce nec and ac. Are there other instances where -que can turn into -c? Can this be productive, or can it only happen in very special cases? (Bonus question: Are there examples where scansion suggests that -que must be read as -c?)

It seems that ac is only used before consonants in classical Latin, whereas atque, nec and neque could be used anywhere, but this is irrelevant here.

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    The question title is pretty different from the body: I think it's a pretty obvious no that -c cannot replace -que "in general." I would be surprised if there were even a couple more examples of this, much less a codified rule. – brianpck Dec 10 '16 at 22:42
  • @brianpck Good point. I edited the title. I suspect that it cannot happen in general. My question is whether there is any amount of productivity or whether the phenomenon is found at all outside ac and nec. – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 11 '16 at 12:57
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    I've seen a lot of these questions here: When the question is "are there more examples of this", and yet there are no more examples of this, what's a good answer? A simple "No, I haven't found any and no one mentions it"? – C. M. Weimer Dec 11 '16 at 17:28
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    @C.M.Weimer Questions of that kind are indeed tricky. I think "No, I looked up this and this source and no one that I remember mentions it" is a good answer. A very definitive negative answer is hard to give, but I am willing to accept a "no" and change my mind if someone comes with positive evidence later on. While "no" can be a good answer (and probably the correct one here), it does call for some justification. – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 11 '16 at 21:06
  • @brianpck You commented first, you want the first go for the (tentative) negative answer? – C. M. Weimer Dec 11 '16 at 21:33
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I wrote a longish post attempting a negative answer, and as a last precaution consulted a list of all Latin words ending in -c. One word stuck out to me like a sore thumb, and further research indicates that it may, in fact, be a contraction of -que to -c:

dōnĕc: conj. [shortened from ante- and post-class. form dōnĭcum , from old dative doni (dioni; for root, etc., v. dies) and conj. cum.... —In the Inscr. of Orell. 4370 DONIQVIES is i. q. DONIQUE IS, and donique = donicum

It appears, thus, that at least some authors saw donec as a contraction of donique. This helps with the parsing of Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 2: 1116

...ignem ignes procudunt aetheraque aether,
donique ad extremum crescendi perfica finem
omnia perduxit rerum natura creatrix;

Leonard's translation:

...and fires, as on a forge,
Beat out new fire; and ether forges ether;
Till nature, author and ender of the world,
Hath led all things to extreme bound of growth

I will include my other answer, since I believe it otherwise helps shed some light on this:


It appears that this kind of substitution of -c for -que is only present in these two conjunctions:

  • atque: ac
  • neque: nec

It is difficult to prove a negative, and I am willing to be corrected, but one fairly convincing inductive line of reasoning would be to choose similar words (i.e. conjunctions with "que") and check if a similar substitution is attested. Here's a list of such words from a brief search:

  1. cumque
  2. itaque (not really a conjunction, but I'll include it)
  3. namque
  4. sicutque (one attestation in Siculus, Eclogae 6.46)
  5. utque

None of the corresponding pairs (cunc, itac, nanc, sicuc, uc) occurs in a classical corpus, even though some (especially at/ut) seem pretty exact equivalents.

In short: this substitution does not appear to occur in any other words except ac and nec (EDIT) and donec.

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    I am unclear on whether donec < donique is a false etymology or not. L&S's "donique = donicum" seems pretty cryptic... – brianpck Dec 12 '16 at 18:42
  • I looked up donec in de Vaan but he doesn't list it at all, unless I somehow missed it. – TKR Dec 12 '16 at 19:00
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    Oh, it's under a different heading (p. 161). He derives dōnec from a form * dō-ne-kwe, and dōnicum from * dō-ne-kwom, but then says in the next sentence that "Lat. dōni/eque is probably a recent remake on the model of nec/neque". Not sure why the latter statement, but it does look like the -c of dōnec is from -que. – TKR Dec 12 '16 at 19:43

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