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What's the origin of the rule that composes the adverbial forms finishing in -mente (e.g. velocemente, normalmente, assolutamente, diversamente etc).

Is it somehow connected to mente (Latin mens, English mind) substantive?

  • 2
    I took the liberty of correcting absolutamente in assolutamente, and of substituting diversamente for altrimente (which is an ancient form for present-day altrimenti). – DaG Dec 15 '13 at 15:37
  • @DaG why did you correct "altrimente" with "diversamente" and not "altrimenti"? – martina Dec 15 '13 at 15:41
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    @martina: Simply because, even if its etymology is the same, not being a word in “-mente” it could be a bit confusing. – DaG Dec 15 '13 at 15:44
  • This is a very interesting question with two very interesting answers! – user193 Jan 1 '14 at 10:42
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Yes, it is. It continues the ablative form of Latin mens, which is indeed mente. So felicemente would have started meaning something like “in a happy state of mind.” (See for example the Treccani article about “-mente”.)

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You are on the right track. It is indeed true that those words ending in -mente, which are always adverbs derived from adjectives, take their origin in the Latin mens (mind, but also spirit, intelligence, thought).

This is because in Latin itself, a construction like "A + mente" meant "with an A mind," where A is an adjective.

Starting from this, the word mente came, in Italian, to be attached directly to the adjective to create a new adverb.

Sources

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