Paola Mondani

«Io fo quel che mi pare e piace!». A Brief Linguistic History of an Ancient Legal Formula

Are you already subscribed?
Login to check whether this content is already included on your personal or institutional subscription.


The binomial construct ‘parere e piacere + dative’ derives from the ancient legal formula totiens quotiens eis videbitur, et placebit. Through diachronic evolution, this phraseological unit largely lost its original neutral meaning of ‘granting full freedom of choice and action’. It shifted towards a markedly new function, first pragmatic and then semantic, which bore the meaning of ‘forcefully/superciliously and/or provocatively claiming the absolute arbitrariness in making a choice’ or ‘falsely and/or provocatively granting full freedom of choice and action’. Investigated through the lens of historical pragmatic methods applied to literary production from the 13th to the 20th century up to contemporary web writings, this change had two main outcomes: 1) the co-existence of the original meaning (but deprived of its legal signification and always used into an emphatic and expressionistic function) with the new one; 2) the dominance, in spoken language, of the abridged form ‘parere + dative’, against the disappearance of ‘piacere + dative’.


  • as i please
  • as i please
  • opinion
  • pleasure
  • legal formula
  • videbitur et placedit


Article first page

What do you think about the recent suggestion?

Trova nel catalogo di Worldcat