The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 10/15 - Bruna Karla Pereira & Eloisa Pilati

Note: There will be two shorter talks this week.

Time: Thursday, October 15, 12:30-1:45pm Place: 32-D461

Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM; CAPES Foundation – Ministry of Education of Brazil)
Title: Speech Act Phrase in Brazilian Portuguese: possessive agreement with the addressee

This talk presents an initial hypothesis to analyze agreement in dialectal Brazilian Portuguese (BP) data, such as (1) and (2). In (1), while noun and number receive a plural morpheme, the possessive does not. In contrast, in (2), while noun and determiner do not receive a plural morpheme, the possessive does.

(1) Amanhã ele verá dois serviços seu (Belo Horizonte, September 10th 2015)
Tomorrow he see-FUT two-PL task-PL your-SG
Tomorrow he is coming to see your two works.

(2) Para eu avaliar o pedido seus, vou precisar de mais dados (Belo Horizonte, June 15th 2015)
To I evaluate the-SG request-SG your-PL, go-FUT need of more data
In order to evaluate your request, I will need some more data.

In standard BP, possessive ‘seu(s)’ agrees in number with the noun and may refer to either 2nd person plural or 2nd person singular, as it is shown in (3) and (4), resulting in ambiguity. This is not the case in European Portuguese (EP) where, on the one hand, ‘vosso(s)’ is for 2nd person plural and, on the other hand, ‘teu(s)’ is for 2nd person singular.

(3) Preciso de seus favores (‘seus’ = ‘de você’ or ‘de vocês’)
Need-I of your-PL favor-PL (your = ‘of you-SG’ or ‘of you-PL’)
I need your favors (favors from you or from you guys)
(4) Preciso de seu favor (‘seu’ = ‘de você’ or ‘de vocês’)
Need-I of your-SG favor-SG (your = ‘of you-SG’ or ‘of you-PL’)
I need your favor (a favor from you or from you guys)

Therefore, looking at the data in (1) and (2), we observe that ‘-s’ is added to the possessive pronoun when thespeaker addresses to a plural ‘you’, and no ‘-s’ is added when the speaker addresses a singular ‘you’, which clearly seems to be an instance of agreement with the addressee.

Several works have shown not only how syntax codifies discourse participants but also how syntactic operations may be displayed in their scope. Firstly, according to Tsoulas and Kural (1999), indexical pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ arevariables bound by operators, respectively, SPEAKER and ADDRESSEE, that are situated above C in the syntactic structure. Secondly, Speas and Tenny (2003) suggest that speaker and hearer are functional projections inside SAP, proposal that is further developed by Haegeman and Hill (2011) with West Flemish data. Thirdly, Miyagawa (2012) showsthat verbal politeness marker ‘-mas-’, used to formally address the hearer in Japanese, “is in fact an implementation of second person agreement”. In this case, the probe moves from C to SAP for checking phi-features.

Having said that, I will investigate (1) and (2) as an instance of agreement between possessive and hearer, being the latter (c)overtly realized as vocative in SAP. As a consequence, vocative number phi-feature, in the speech act domain, is probably what triggers possessive number agreement inside the DP, in the sentential domain.

Speaker: Eloisa Pilati (University of Brasilia)
Title: Locative pronouns as subjects in Brazilian Portuguese

The goal of this presentation is to account for the licensing of locative DPs and deictic adverbs in subject position in Brazilian Portuguese (henceforth, BP), taking into consideration specifically the status of third person null subjects/ inflection in this language. Following Pilati & Naves 2011, 2013 and Pilati, Naves & Salles 2015, I will show a unified analysis for the phenomena, which concern the current discussion on Brazilian Portuguese (BP) as a partial null subject language (cf. Holmberg 2010). The proposal is that third person inflection on the verb, unlike first and second person inflection, is unable to license referential definite null subjects, although it is able to license a (null) locative adverb/ pronoun in preverbal position. The emergence of the constructions with locatives in subject position is due to the possibility of filling the subject position with a locative pronoun/adverb or a locative DP, on the assumption that third person inflection in BP is no longer referential (cf. Rabelo 2010).