I frequently come across references to other scholars like:

In period P, syntactic construct C did not have function F (pace Smith 2000).

I understand that pace here signals that Smith (2000) suggests that C did have function F in P (see this related question for the basic meaning of pace). But I'm having trouble relating this to the literal meaning of pace ('in peace'). Does the above mean:

  1. That the author holds Smith in high regard (suggested here, but this seems odd to me since the relationship between the author and Smith is irrelevant to the content).

  2. That no offence to Smith is intended (suggested here, but this also seems odd in an academic work: Smith is aware of the scientific method and the fact that his claims may be challenged).

  3. That the author acknowledges that there are currently different opinions on the matter and that the author accepts Smith's point of view because the matter cannot be settled with the evidence currently available?

  4. Something else?

I am looking at a dissertation here where the author at times rebukes another scholar quite strongly, without pace, ("the analysis of Smith is a step backwards from the 100 year old description by Jones"), but at other times uses pace to describe a difference of opinion more neutrally ("pace Smith who does not differentiate further here"). This suggests to me that pace signals something about the content of the referenced proposition rather than the author's attitude to the referenced scholar.

It's just unclear to me what pace signifies exactly.


1 Answer 1


So I checked with the author and he explained it as similar to option 3: He used it to indicate that he respects the arguments cited by Smith, while he gives more weight to other evidence leading to different conclusions. Since it is in part subjective to what evidence is given more weight, both positions are respected.

However, I can imagine that some authors simply use pace for variation from contrary to without this particular nuance. (As may be clear from my question, this was in the field of linguistics and written by an author with an exceptional sensitivity to the finer nuances of language.)

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